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Stock Up on these Healthy Staples

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By Liza Barnes & Nicole Nichols, Health Educators         
Page 3 of 4
The Dairy Case
Most grocery stores place dairy in the very back so that you'll have to walk through the whole store (and past its enticing food items) to get to it. But even though it's in the back, dairy holds an important place in most people's diets. So what are the top picks?
  • Skim milk has just as much calcium as other varieties, but far less saturated fat. If you’re intolerant of milk (or prefer not to drink it), try dairy alternatives like soy or rice milk. The fortified varieties have as much calcium and vitamin D as dairy milk, but are free of saturated fat and cholesterol.
  • Low-fat yogurt is getting more praise everyday for supplying our bodies with probiotics, the healthy bacteria that keep our intestines happy. Choose low-fat and natural varieties, but watch the sugar content. Soy yogurt, which is fortified with calcium and contains probiotics, is another good choice.
  • Low-fat cottage cheese is a great source of protein and calcium, without any added sugar. It's a versatile ingredient for both sweet and savory healthy dishes. Look for low-sodium varieties if you are watching your blood pressure.
  • Keifer, basically, is drinkable yogurt. It's mildly tangy, usually sweetened and whipped with fruit. It has many of the same health benefits as yogurt.
  • Cheese. Admittedly, some low-fat cheeses don't taste as good as the "real" thing, but this is improving. Cheese is high in calcium, so even if you splurge on the full-fat varieties, it’s still healthy to eat it in moderation and when you keep your portions in check.
  • Butter is a food to be enjoyed in moderation. It has about the same amount of fat and calories as margarine, but is often a better choice since margarine can be loaded with trans fats.
  • Eggs and egg whites are great sources of protein. Many experts and consumers agree that the best tasting (and possibly most nutritious) eggs come from organically-fed and pasture-raised birds.
What to Avoid in the Dairy Case:
  • Whole (full-fat) milk
  • Yogurts made with whole milk and/or lots of added sugar
  • "Cheese products" which are highly processed cheese-like foods, but aren't real cheese
  • Margarines made with hydrogenated oils
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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.

Member Comments

  • Some researches show that skim milk and low fat milk can cause cancer. http://www.reuter
    s.com/article
    /us-nonfat-ca
    ncer-idUSHAR2
    6781420080102 - 3/23/2016 9:52:19 AM
  • I also am rather surprised at the amount of negativity. This is a guideline rather than a list that you absolutely must follow. I make my own bread because A) I love baking and B) I know exactly what went into it. I use 1/3 cup of honey instead of 1/2 cup white sugar that my recipe calls for, I use 2 cups white flour, 5 cups whole wheat flour and 1 cup of ground rolled oats instead of 8 cups white flour and I use extra virgin olive oil rather than hydrogenated vegetable oil. The 2 cups white flour help give it a proper loaf shape as all whole wheat is very dense and not everyone will eat it. I actually found very little that I could change since I had already changed my grocery shopping style before starting the Realistic Resolutions challenge. I no longer visit the prepared food refrigerator cases but rather make my own and for what I paid for 4 servings prepared, I can make 16 servings for the same amount AND I know exactly what went into and can flavour to suit my palate. I don't have sugar cravings, my cravings are for salty substances. As far as low fat goes - I only drink skim milk and have done so for years. I hate 0 fat yogurt so I go for the Greek yogurt mid-fat range and full fat cheese - gotta get it some where! I hate greasy foods and that was part of my reason for leaving the prepared foods behind as most of them are greasy and lacking flavour. - 3/15/2016 10:01:36 AM
  • I'm surprised at how many negative comments are posted to this article. Looking at the positive (this information is provided to you free of charge) and realizing that dietary needs and opinions are varied would be my two cents to my fellow Sparkers. I for one am happy that SparkPeople doesn't jump on every new dietary fad. Use what you can to your advantage on this site and leave what you can't. - 1/19/2016 9:06:53 AM
  • Very misleading article with lots of outdated information. Low fat is NOT healthy. Some fruits and vegetables are loaded with pesticides. All grains can cause havoc in the gut and raise blood sugars. Un-fermented soy is very problematic.

    You need to be consulting with Registered Holistic Nutritionists, not dietitians. - 1/16/2016 11:22:08 AM
  • TEXASTOPAZ15
    At a certain point, the difference between 2% and 4% cottage cheese makes no no never mind to me!
    Milk, whether skim (yuk) or full cream (also yuk) BOTH contain 12g of sugar!!! Blue Diamond, unsweetened almond milk contains 0g sugar. Of course it's all a matter of taste, and we each choose what's best for us, for our palate, and/or for our families.

    So while articles like this may be somewhat useful to some, to others the generalized nature of it is a little off? - 8/10/2015 4:17:53 PM
  • I thought low fat dairy was going out of fashion. - 8/10/2015 1:24:58 PM
  • A must have staple for my kitchen has to be spices, and seasonings. No matter what I cook that's what make my recipes go from bland to yummo. - 8/10/2015 9:40:34 AM
  • People with medical issues have to be careful with buying certain foods. Anyone on a low potassium diet has to severely limit any high potassium foods. That includes potatoes, bananas, whole grains, dark leafy vegetables, even milk. So don't be so quick to say white bread, rice, pasta are bad, if you cannot eat whole wheat products. - 1/29/2015 11:25:59 AM
  • No matter how many articles you post saying it, I'm never giving up my whole milk.
    And the science seems to be growing against you, Spark. - 1/28/2015 10:36:29 AM
  • Fancy-pants "ancient grains", in addition to being more than just a little bit pretentious, are expensive. Stick to brown rice and barley.

    Also, quinoa tastes like pillbugs smell - ICK. - 1/28/2015 9:35:06 AM
  • I wonder why there is no mention of things like quinoa or kumat or other ancient grains? So much better than pasta or rice. I find them fun to try and it makes me have to think about my food so much more, because they are so unfamiliar to my past. - 1/16/2015 11:52:09 AM
  • I think the article is a good starting point. However, do your own research & decide what works best for your life. Avoiding high fructose corn syrup, reading labels, choosing low sugar, less processed foods are good for everyone though~ - 11/12/2014 6:06:57 AM
  • EVERBRIGHT
    This is a very useful article as a starting point. But I think it could have been padded out a bit more, although I understand that it is not intended to be an exhaustive list. It would have been helpful if it had flagged that 'healthy' products, like wholewheat bread, mentioned above often have a high sugar content and that 4g of sugar = 1 teaspoon of sugar. It would also have been nice for alternatives to bread, like natural oatcakes, to have been suggested. They could have mentioned seeds as well, as these are supposed to be super foods. I'm also surprised that coconut oil hasn't been mentioned as a lower cholesterol alternative to olive oil for cooking. - 6/16/2014 6:25:32 PM
  • everything cold HAS to be towards the back/perimeter of the store. It's just logistics - the docks for unloading are where? At the back. So the refrigerated & frozen storage is as close to the unloading area as possible. - 5/6/2014 1:57:48 AM
  • DADKAJ
    sorry guys, there are few imprecisions in the article. if margarine is blended with water, weight per weight it will not have the same energy content as original butter. meanwhile: what is wrong with little saturated fat? i am a nutritionist but the author of the article is not and i see the difference. i assure you, once you started eating healthily and exercising, butter or full-fat milk is not your enemy anymore. in fact, that little extra fat increases satiety, and actually helps to absorb and utilize the calcium with thecontains naturally occurring vitamin D3 (instead of vitamin D2 in fortified products, having a lower bioactivity than D3). once you take fat from the milk, vitamin D3 goes with it, too. at least, semi-skimmed is a good compromise and it tastes much better. skimmed milk is just a by-product of dairy production that would otherwise be drained away. now they found the way to sell it to you for the same price as a real milk.
    also: why scared of HFCS but not of sugar? dont you have sugar in the USA? i know that its per capita availability has slightly increased while the HFCS was on the decline in the past several years. and they are virtually the same nutritionally and metabolically, if there is not the HFCS-90.

    why do you not let nutritionist write the articles about nutrition? i mean the qualified nutritionists. i am not going to apply for a job here, i have just pointed out how misleading these articles can be. - 3/2/2014 4:14:59 PM

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