Lake Oconee Breeze

Healthy Living

December 13, 2012

Navigating the grocery store for health

LAKE OCONEE — The grocery store – most of us pay a visit every week. We wander the aisles, read labels, and try to make the best choices for ourselves and our families. But, truth be told, the grocery store can be overwhelming. How can we be sure we’re making the healthiest choices and not just buying into the latest marketing hype? Here are some guidelines to help you fill your cart wisely.

  • Shop the perimeter. The perimeter of the grocery store is home to the healthiest foods.
  • Make your basket colorful. Grab a variety of vegetables in all colors.
  • Get adventurous! Try one new vegetable each week to add variety. If you don’t know how to prepare the vegetable, try online sources such as allrecipes.com.
  • Buy foods that would look familiar to a caveman. Real food comes out of the ground, off a tree or bush, has wings, scales, legs, etc.
  • Read labels. The fewer ingredients, the healthier the food (usually). The more ingredients, the more likely the food is “processed” and really a non-food. If you can’t pronounce the ingredients — or your great-grandmother wouldn’t have kept the ingredients in her pantry — then don’t buy it!
  • Watch the sugar content. Four grams of sugar equals one teaspoon of sugar. Sugar can be disguised in many ways. High fructose corn syrup is the most deadly form and found in many different processed foods. Also, look for anything ending in “-ose”, such as fructose, maltose and sucrose. Other sources of sugar are brown rice syrup, fruit juice concentrate, cane juice, maltodextrin. Avoid anything with artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame or sucralose. Acceptable sweeteners are stevia and xylitol.
  • Avoid the bad fats. Pass on anything that includes “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” oil. Many foods sitting on grocery shelves (crackers, cereals, cookies, breads, etc.) are filled with these oils in order to extend the shelf life. These are some of the most damaging fats known as “trans fatty acids.”
  • Know your cooking oils. Most cooking oils (i.e. soybean, grapeseed, canola, cottonseed, safflower, vegetable, etc.) are refined/processed, which means they have been heated and damaged. This causes them to become toxins that can cause inflammation in the body and lead to many degenerative diseases, including heart disease. Even though the labels may claim these oils are “cholesterol free” or “all vegetable,” it doesn’t mean they are healthy. Healthier options include: butter, coconut oil, palm oil, avocado oil (can be heated up to 490 degrees), almond oil (can be used cold or heated to 420 degrees), olive oil (use cold or only when cooking at temps LESS than 350 degrees).
  • Get more fiber. Check labels and go for higher fiber foods, especially vegetables, lentils and beans. Although cereal is typically a processed food, if you choose to continue eating it, try to buy a brand with five or more grams of fiber per serving.
  • Buy quality meats. Eat leaner cuts and look for antibiotic and hormone free, free range, grass fed or pastured meat. Another option for healthier meat is to buy from local farmers that raise quality meat without hormones or antibiotics.
  • Avoid the top three. Avoid sugar, wheat and corn (especially high fructose corn syrup). When you eliminate these items, you will be able to make much healthier food choices.
  • Avoid MSG.
  • Keep it simple. Keep it simple to keep it healthier. The fewer the ingredients, the more “real” the food.

Dr. Ramona Warren can be reached at Pathways to Healing, (706) 454-2040.

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