How to Choose Healthy Foods

by | Nov 21, 2011 | Health Habits, Nutrition Support, Uncategorized

It’s wonderful to go shopping. Be it for shoes, tops, gadgets or even for groceries. But we have to be wise as we do so… especially when it comes to healthy foods.  Below are some tips on how to shop healthy foods.  Nine things have to be considered to ensure that you are stocking your cupboard and refrigerator with primarily good options for when you need to eat. Let’s see what they are:

1. Choose complex over simple carbohydrates

we need carbs for energy.  It is what our body uses for everything we do – our daily chores, work, exercises, etc.  But there are 2 sources of carbohydrates: a) complex carbohydrates in the form of fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, oats, cereals and bread; and  b) simple carbohydrates in the form of sugar and sweets.  Both have almost the same amount of carbohydrate per serving, but serving portions make a big difference.  A bowl of complex carbohydrates have 6gm of carbohydrates while 1 teaspoon of sugar has 5gm of carbohydrates.  And you will not consume just a teaspoon of the sweet desert.  Which is better then?  Which is more filling?  Which is a healthier option?  Yes, the right answer is complex carbohydrates.

2. Include complete and healthy protein in your healthy diet.

We need protein for muscle building and maintenance. But some proteins also are sources of saturated fat which clogs the arteries of the heart. And so we have to choose the healthier protein over others.  Meat, poultry, fish, egg and milk are complete protein but only fish contains good cholesterol.  If not fish, make sure the other choices have lesser fat content: choose lean meat, remove chicken skin and choose the breast section if possible, low or non-fat milk, egg whites more than yolk.  Protein from plant sources are not always complete with all the amino acids and is best combined to make it complete.  Soy is a plant protein but is considered complete protein.

3. Opt-in for polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA)

PUFA helps for a healthier heart – it is in the form of fish and good oils like olive oil and canola oil.  They reduce bad cholesterol (LDL low density lipoprotein) and increase good cholesterol (HDL high density lipoprotein).  Use the oils sparingly to avoid exceeding  the daily fat allowance.

4.  Eat for your heart

Heart-smart items that includes resveratrol such as grapes and red wine (if alcoholic beverage consumed), alfalfa and garlic.  According to many studies and research, they are said to have beneficial effects for a healthy heart.  From protecting the heart from clotting, damaging the blood vessels, to the reduction of bad cholesterol.

5. Use healthy food to help prevent cancers

Anti-cancer foods such as tomatoes for the lycopene, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, mustard greens, kale, brussel sprouts and cauliflower for the sulforaphane, which boosts immunity and blocks enzymes that invites carcinogens and indoles, which helps lessen the risk for breast cancer. Antioxidants, such as beta carotene, vitamin C and E was said to have an anti cancer effect when taken together. Green tea, garlic and soy have been reported to have conclusive evidence of fighting cancer, too.

6. Consume seasonal and fresh food

Seasonal fruits and vegetables for you to ensure better quality. It will also be budget friendly if you buy them when in season. Vary your fruit and vegetable intake to be able to have the different vitamins and minerals each have. Although optional, it is advisable to go organic for a definite safety from pesticides that are also harmful to health

7. Use herbs and spices to make your food tasty

Replace the salty seasonings with herbs and spices.  Food can be tasty while being healthy with the help of the many different herbs and spices like thyme, parsley, dill, oregano and the likes.  You just have to know when and how to use them.

8. Make sure you take enough antioxidants

Antioxidants fight free radicals we meet everyday from pollution. And these antioxidants can be best found in the different fruits and vegetables, nuts, grains, and some meat, fish or poultry. It includes Vitamins A, C, E, Beta-carotene, lycopene, selenium and lutein.

9. It is OK to have treats from time to time

Treats serve as rewards for your inclination towards healthier options.  This way you will not feel overly restricted or deprived which will ultimately bring about food cravings and encouraging you to fall into temptation.  You can also choose those that are the “lesser evil” like having frozen desserts such as yogurt instead of ice cream, simple chiffon slices instead of the heavily creamed cakes, vegetarian pizza you can bake than the commercial ones filled with fat and salt.

You should have these in mind when writing down your shopping list.

Yes, bring a list to serve as your guide and do not become an instant shopper who grabs anything they see. Do the shopping after you have eaten, so you can be calm and in the right frame of mind.  What you end up buying is a primary factor to the healthiness of the food you will cook and eat to stick to your plan of being healthy. Still, you have to remember that there are other considerations such as how you cook them (better without oil for instance when you steam, bake, grill, boil, broil, poach rather than when you fry to lessen the fat and therefore the calories from fat); another factor is the quantity. You may have cooked it right, healthy, but anything in excess is not good.  Quantity still matters.  Therefore, learn how much of the complex carbohydrates, lean/good protein, good fat and others is allowed per day, per meal.