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Making Smart and Healthy Food Shopping Decisions

Making Smart and Healthy Food Shopping Decisions

Eating healthy starts before you sit down at the dinner table. It even starts before your cook your meal. The very first, and perhaps the most important stage of healthy eating is when you are at the grocery store or market, trying to decide which ingredients to buy for your weekly menu.

When shopping for food, it’s important to keep healthy thoughts in your mind. Remember that fresh fruits, vegetables and meats are always the best choice as compared to canned and preserved varieties. In the supermarket, you can find these healthier ingredients along the sides of the store, while the center aisles are usually reserved for the canned goods.

Each type of food comes in good and bad varieties in terms of nutritional content, and it is up to you as the consumer to determine which of these products are most nutritious.

For example, cartons of full cream milk and skim milk are lined up side by side on the shelves, and the decision as to which kind to buy relies solely on you. Of course, the answer here is obvious but for other products, you will need to closely examine the nutritional information printed on the label in order to determine which product is the better choice.

The government requires all food manufacturers to print this nutritional information at the back or sides of the food package. This information includes calorie counts, serving size, and amounts of vitamins and minerals contained in the food product. The data is very simple to read, which makes it very easy for the average consumer to compare different products.

You do have to keep in mind that the fat, sodium, calorie and cholesterol contents listed are for one serving only, which is usually just a fraction of the contents of the whole package. Never mistake those values to be reflective of the entire carton. If you expect to eat more than the recommended serving size, make the necessary computations in order to determine just how much of these not-so-healthy ingredients you will be putting into your body.

One rule of thumb for smart and healthy shopping is that foods that undergo less processing have more nutrients. If you are buying fruit juices, always choose the 100% fresh variety instead of the juice concentrates or blends. No matter how fortified with vitamins these juices may claim to be, they will still have less vitamins and minerals than the all-natural products.

Fresh meats from your local butcher are also much better than the frozen ones in the grocery store, which usually have a lot of preservatives that lessen its nutritional value.

When buying milk for adults, make sure to choose the fat-free or low-fat products, from which the unnecessary fats and calories have already been eliminated. However, whole milk is still the best choice for growing children because those fats and calories that are so hated by grownups are actually necessary for the children’s growing bodies.

When it comes to soups, the homemade variety is still the best option, but in case you do need to buy the ones in a can, select those that have the lowest sodium and fat content. You can also bring it up a notch and buy those that are high in protein as well, such as lentil or black bean soup.

Most regional cuisine is very nutritious for the body because they make use of all-natural ingredients. If you want to recreate these ethnic dishes right in your own home, make sure you follow the original recipes as much as possible by using 100% natural ingredients in your preparation.

Many people have the false notion that natural or healthy dishes have a bland taste and are quite unappetizing. However, this is not always the case. In fact, you can use a wide variety of herbs and natural flavorings to spice up your meals while also adding to the nutritional value of the dish.

You can buy these herbal seasonings in the grocery store, but make sure you keep to the ones that are low in sodium. The best way to ensure that your herbs are natural is to start your own little herbal garden. Not only will this guarantee the freshness of your seasonings, but it can save you a few dollars as well.