If you think about it, grocery shopping is one of the more important activities we perform on a regular basis. After all, we get most of our food from the grocery store, and our overall health is greatly influenced by what we put into our bodies. Unfortunately, a trip to the grocery store can go south in a hurry. Consumers are tempted with a wide range of junk foods, and often succumb to the urge to indulge in sugary and salty snacks. Furthermore, even health-conscious shoppers can pick up items that are secretly filled with unhealthy ingredients. Taking these problems into account, it is understandable why so many people struggle with their diets.
The good news is that grocery shopping is hardly rocket science. By exercising some self-discipline and familiarizing yourself with cornerstones of a balanced diet, you can reap a much healthier bounty from your next shopping trip.
Pick Whole Grain Over White Bread – It’s hard to overstate the importance of bread in the world’s diets. Simply put, bread is the most widely consumed food on the planet, and has been eaten by humans for thousands of years. However, all modern types of bread are not created equal. White bread consists of refined grains, which have been stripped of much of their nutritional value. Additionally, eating a few slices of white bread can lead to unwanted spikes in blood pressure.
In contrast, whole grain bread contains a bevy of nutrients, including vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, fiber, iron and vitamin E. As an added bonus, whole wheat bread is much better for your glucose (blood sugar) levels, as it digested and absorbed by your body at a slower pace than white bread.
Avoid Soda Entirely – Everyone knows that soda is bad for the body, but surely averaging just a can per day can’t be that unhealthy, right? Actually, even this minor indulgence can lead to long-term health problems. According to a 2013 study from the United Kingdom, a can-per-day soda habit increased the risk of type 2 diabetes by over 20 percent.
Develop A Taste for Fish – When most people think of meat, fare such as ground beef and steak tends to come to mind, whereas fish tends to get the short shrift. This is highly unfortunate, as an argument could be made that fish represent the healthiest meat product available to shoppers. Popular types of fish, such as tuna, salmon, trout and mackerel, all boast impressive quantities of omega 3 fatty acids. A number of studies have linked this well-known nutrient to better cholesterol levels, reduced bodily inflammation and a lower risk of depression and Alzheimer’s disease.
Opt for Brown Rice Over White – The difference between white and brown rice extends further beyond their cosmetic appearance. White rice actually starts outs with a brown hue, but changes color after its bran is removed during the refinement process. Along with its bran, the white rice grain also loses much of its supplies of magnesium, potassium and fiber. If you like adding rice to your meals, make sure to pick up the brown variant of this popular cereal grain.
For Pasta Dishes, Purchase Whole-Wheat Pasta – While you might have a long-held affinity for white pasta, noodles made with whole wheat flour offer more in the way of nutritional value. Whole wheat pasta has white pasta beat when it comes to fiber and selenium, and contributes fewer calories to your diet.
Choose A Cereal That Is High in Fiber – Remember as a kid, when you would beg your mom or dad to pick up a box of a certain kind of cereal? Mom and dad were probably reluctant to oblige your request, given that the cereal in question was likely packed to the brim with sugar. Though many adults still experience cravings for sugary cereals, use your better judgment and pick a low-sugar, high-fiber offering instead.
Shy Away from Salad Dressings – Salads enjoy a sterling reputation as a low calorie and highly nutritious dish, one that can help you lose weight or maintain your physique. The only real drawback to salad is its relative lack of taste, which many people attempt to remedy with various salad dressings. Lurking inside many of these dressings, however, are large amounts of calories, to the tune of 100-200 per serving. Olive oil makes for a much healthier alternative. If you can’t bear to eat salad without some sort of dressing, choose one that contains a reduced amount of fat.
Replace Ground Beef with Chicken or Turkey – As much as you might like hamburgers, ground beef often features high amounts of saturated fat, an ingredient known to swell waistlines and clog arteries. Chicken and turkey breast, which are much lower in saturated fat, make for much better choices.