Nutrition Articles

10 Surprisingly Healthy Packaged Foods

Convenient Can Also Be Healthy!

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Frozen Berries
When it comes to meeting your daily fruit requirement, you can't beat frozen. Many frozen berries do not have added sugar, but some do. Double check that the ingredients list contains berries to make sure you're not getting extra calories from refined sugars. Then, add them to oatmeal, cereal, yogurt or make a smoothie.

Granola Bars
This one can be tricky, as not every granola bar is good for you. Shop carefully and read labels to pick out the healthiest option. Be cautious not to fall into an advertising trap! Flip the products over and check out the ingredients. Some of the healthiest bars will be found near the products made for athletes or in the "natural foods" section. Brands that use dates as their main sweetener can give you a good amount of fiber. Some of these higher quality bars do have more calories. Consider splitting one in half for a small snack or share it with a friend.

Soups
Soup that comes in a can or carton can be a healthy choice if you shop carefully. Many are packed with plenty of fat and added sodium, but some brands are lighter in both. A non-condensed, organic soup made with real vegetables is going to be the healthiest option. These are sometimes found in cans near the condensed soups but are also packaged in boxes in a separate section. Watch out for high sodium soups and read labels for serving size. Most people eat a whole can of soup as one serving, only to discover that what they thought was a healthy option actually contained 2.5 to 3 times the calories, fat and sodium!

Cereal
Breakfast cereal can be a toss-up. Either you're eating an overdose of sugar or you're getting a good amount of fiber and vitamins. Pick the right cereal, and you'll be supporting your heart and intestinal health with each bite. Look for at least 5 grams of fiber per serving and keep in mind the amount of added sugar. There isn't an established limit to an amount of sugar to stay under, but if you aim for about 5 grams or less, you're usually grabbing a healthy cereal.You can add even more fiber by mixing in some plain bran cereal with your favorite lightly sweetened cereal.

Brown Rice
For a boxed fare that is both versatile and nutrient packed, pick up brown rice on your next grocery trip. This fiber-rich grain is a great side for nearly any meat, bean, and vegetable--or combination of all three! Try it with kidney beans, diced tomatoes and cilantro, or top it with shrimp, streamed carrots and broccoli with your favorite low-sodium sauce. Learn more about the benefits of whole grains and how to cook them.
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About The Author

Sarah Haan Sarah Haan
Sarah is a registered dietitian with a bachelor's degree in dietetics. She helps individuals adopt healthy lifestyles and manage their weight. An avid exerciser and cook, Sarah likes to run, lift weights and eat good food. See all of Sarah's articles.

Member Comments

  • Canned beans can have a pretty shocking quantity of calories so read carefully! That said, there is something about combining beans and rice that leaves me satiated and full unlike almost anything else... - 7/29/2014 11:57:27 PM
  • Our cholesterol readings are much better since we have been eating more beans. - 7/20/2014 6:33:54 AM
  • I'd like to point out that no packaged foods are good for you...although I seriously did not just read this article. I saw the title and was a little baffled...I should probably read it. But packaged foods are a no no!
    They have wheat and processed junk. We should all be staying away from those packaged goods and stick to the whole foods....I thought....hmm...

    Just thinkin' out loud... - 6/26/2014 11:00:23 AM
  • NUTMEGS7
    This article would have been much more helpful had it listed brands that fulfill those 'healthy' requirements. - 2/19/2014 1:08:43 AM
  • I hope you aren't including baked beans in this list as they are WICKED high in sodium. - 2/18/2014 9:46:43 PM
  • Most canned soups and snack foods contain a ton of MSG. I read labels carefully. - 2/18/2014 12:41:01 PM
  • DADKAJ
    can i ask something: the article starts that people should also look into the central areas of the supermarket for healthy treats. i dont know where, but all supermarkets i know tend to have frozen vegetables and fruits along the outside isles, not the central part. even Lidl only keeps such chilled meat in the central areas but the frozen food such as meat and vegetables are again towards the side isles.
    i also like shopping for tinned goods and i think that this rule of shopping along the outer isles is misleading. one can get unehalthy stuff there as well as inside. perhaps more useful rule would be not to buy the stuff that is displayed at the eye level, or at the child eye level as these are occupied by advertised products, usually not too healthy for us and the children. the supermarket own brands are also often healthier and of course cheaper than those advertised ones. dont forget that it is the customer who pays for the million pounds/dollars expenses for the adverts. - 2/18/2014 6:32:55 AM
  • Canned vegetable items could be OK if additional care is taken, such as rinsing vegetables to remove excess sodium in the liquids. As for canned soups, including those listed as organic or natural, there is almost always going to be a lot of sodium, sugar or fat for flavoring or as a preservative. - 2/14/2014 11:08:09 PM
  • EMORYCC
    I beg to differ with the soup suggestion. Most of the commercial soups like Campbell's (even their Chunky soups) and store brand soups have MSG in them. - 1/18/2014 8:38:26 AM
  • I love beans and lentils; they are a great way to upgrade a not-so-healthy can of ravioli into a nearly healthy meal. Throw in one or two sliced carrots and it's a downright respectable meal!

    And frozen berries are a staple - no peeling, washing, cleaning, just mix into oats or yogurt.

    My quickest soup goes "vegetable broth + creamed tomatoes". I like the ideas of having a variety of soups at home, but I don't like what I usually see in the shops - to many additives, too much sodium for my taste. - 11/6/2013 8:19:13 PM
  • I look for beans without added sugar also. - 11/6/2013 3:53:45 PM
  • Thanks for sharing - 11/3/2013 6:25:55 AM
  • LAUREENMT
    Kashi granola bars are high in protein and fiber! They are staples in my home. - 10/31/2013 9:25:13 AM
  • Great article - thank you! I think many of us have gone through feeling guilty because time and money don't always allow us to buy 100% fresh ingredients. That doesn't mean that we don't need to watch what we're buying and still incorporate as many fresh fruits and veggies as possible, but you can integrate these into your diet as well. - 10/30/2013 5:55:39 AM
  • Quinoa should be on this list. Amazing protein packed grain that tastes fantastic when properly prepared. - 10/11/2013 4:28:34 PM