Nutrition Articles

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Stock Up on these Healthy Staples


Produce: Start Here
Fresh fruits and veggies are the foundation of a healthy diet. Here are some of the best picks to help you reach your goals:
  • Apples are good to have on hand for a quick snack. They’re usually cheaper by the bag, and they last for a while, so don’t be afraid to stock up.
  • Bananas are another handy snack. This fruit is also an essential if you’re a fan of smoothies. Wait for them to ripen (with a few brown spots), then peel, slice, and freeze in an airtight container for a quick, frosty addition to your favorite smoothie combo.
  • Lettuce. Skip the iceberg (it's low in nutrients) and grab a head of Romaine (for salads and sandwiches) and some mixed baby greens (also great for salads).
  • Carrots are a simple snack (try dipping them in almond or peanut butter for a new twist) and a common ingredient in soup and stir-fry.
  • Dark green, leafy vegetables. If you buy just one produce item, this should be it. Greens are high in calcium, folate, and vitamin C, and delicious. There are lots of varieties of greens (broccoli, kale, chard, and spinach are popular examples).
  • Avocados, those mysterious egg-shaped fruits, are rich in good fats, and delicious additions to sandwiches, wraps, or salads. Buy them when they're green and allow them to ripen on your counter—they're ready to eat when soft. Homemade guacamole makes a flavorful addition to veggies, burritos and baked chips.
  • Other seasonal foods. Whatever is in-season in your region is usually most nutritious and flavorful. Check out this list of seasonal produce items to add to your cart throughout the year.
What to Avoid in the Produce Section: Fortunately, nothing in this section is bad for you, and each item offers some health benefit. You can’t go wrong if you aim for variety, filling your cart with a bounty of colorful fruits and vegetables during each grocery trip.

Bread & Cereal Aisles
Bread, cereals and other grain products can often be the most confusing to buy, and healthy sounding phrases on their packages (Health Nut, 12-Grain, and more) don't make it any easier. For the best bet, ignore the claims on the front of the box and go straight to the nutrition label.
  • Whole wheat bread. To make sure you're buying whole grain bread (which is superior in nutrition and arguably, flavor) make sure "whole" is the first word on the ingredient list. The same goes for buns, bagels, English muffins, pitas, and other bread products.
  • Sprouted grain bread (Ezekial is a common brand) is usually sold in the freezer case or natural foods section. It's made entirely of sprouted whole grains, which are more easily digestible for some people. This bread also boasts protein (and all essential amino acids) and fiber.
  • Whole grain pasta. Choose whole wheat pasta and couscous, or even brown rice pasta for variety.
  • Brown rice is a healthy addition to many meals. For quicker cooking, you can soak it on the counter for a few hours before boiling it, or buy pre-cooked brown rice in the freezer section that you can reheat in the microwave in minutes!
  • Healthy cereals are those made with whole grains and without added sugar. Here's Dietitian Becky's list of the top choices.
  • Oatmeal is a hearty breakfast staple that cooks in minutes. Buy (plain) instant or quick oats to save time. When cooking it on the stovetop, add a handful of frozen blueberries for a scrumptious breakfast truly fit for champions.
What to Avoid in the Bread & Cereal Aisles:
  • Snack cakes, doughnuts, muffins, Danishes and other pastries don't make healthy breakfast choices.
  • Sugary cereals, especially those marketed to kids
  • Limit "wheat flour" products. Don't let words like "wheat flour" or "wheat bread" fool you. Unless the ingredients list "whole wheat" as #1, these products are just posing as healthy.
  • Limit white flour products. Refined grains (white bread, rice and cereals) are missing the most nutritious parts of the grain.
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About The Author

Liza Barnes Liza Barnes
Liza has two bachelor's degrees: one in health promotion and education and a second in nursing. A registered nurse and mother, regular exercise and cooking are top priorities for her. See all of Liza's articles.

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