Nutrition know how: Shopping with health in mind

Use this checklist to be more aware of shopping for healthier choices for yourself and family.

As we become more aware of healthier choices we can make for ourselves and our family, the following checklist from Michigan State University Extension will help while shopping.

Fats: Check the amount of saturated fats and trans-fats contained in spreads and dips. It’s important to note the combined amount and pick the spreads with the lowest amounts. Saturated fats and trans-fats can be harmful to health and increase the risks of developing diseases such as heart disease and high cholesterol.

Sugar: The amount of sugar in soft drinks and juice varies depending on the kind that is purchased. In a regular 12 ounce can of soda you could have as much as 40.5 grams of sugar, equal to 10 teaspoons of sugar. Consuming too much sugar can be harmful to health, from weight gain to dental cavities. Water is generally readily available and helps in hydration and body functions.

Whole foods: Try switching from processed to whole foods: When grocery shopping buy mostly whole food instead of purchasing processed foods with added ingredients like sugar, salt and fat. Making your own home made versions can help to get a healthier version on your table. If you must buy a processed food, check the ingredients and the label and make sure that it is a healthier option. When you buy ready-made foods or processed foods, you can’t be sure of what’s been put in it and the preparation method. Fresh home-made salads, soups and chilies are better than a pre made salad which can start to lose vitamins within minutes of opening the package. From a cost perspective, it’s also more affordable. Whole foods should form the basis of your grocery list each week. Examples include:

  • Fresh vegetables like spinach, cabbage, garlic, onions, carrots, beans and legumes
  • Unsalted nuts like walnuts, pecans, cashews and Brazil nuts
  • Lean meats like lean steak, chicken, and fish,
  • Fresh seafood like whole fish
  • Whole grains like wild rice, whole rolled oats , and unprocessed quinoa
  • Low fat milk and low fat yogurt

In summary, MSU Extension recommends being selective when you are healthy food shopping. Following these guidelines will help you in purchasing healthy and nutritious foods for yourself and your family.

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