At the beginning of the year everyone is busy making New Year’s resolutions. Many of us are making resolutions to have a healthier lifestyle, and one of the best ways to improve your health is to fill your grocery cart with nutritious foods. Think of filling your cart the same way you should fill your plate – half should be filled with fruits and vegetables and the other half should be filled with lean proteins, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and heart-healthy fats.
Fruits & Vegetables
Fruits & vegetables are a great source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. They are nutrient dense, very low in calories, and found in many nutritious and convenient forms. Here’s how to select the best …
- Fresh – Look for seasonal produce.
- Frozen – Look for some of the great new vegetable combinations and keep frozen fruit on hand for quick smoothies!
- Canned – Drain your vegetables or fruit to lower any added sodium or sugar, or look for low-sodium/salt-free and light syrup or no added sugars.
- Dried – These contain the same nutrition as fresh, just less water! Roughly ¼ cup of dried is the same as ½ cup of fresh.
- 100% Fruit or Vegetable Juice – Limit serving size to 8oz.
Choose low-fat or fat-free dairy products such as skim milk, reduced-fat cheeses, and plain yogurt.
Grains, Breads, & Cereals
- Half of your servings of grains should be whole grains.
- Read food labels on these products to make sure the first ingredient states that it is whole grain or made with whole-wheat flour. It should NOT have the word “enriched” on the label. Look for the whole grain stamp.
- Grains can be an important source of fiber, but be sure to look for products that have 3 grams or more per serving of fiber.
- Some examples are quinoa, barley, and brown rice.
Meat, Fish, Poultry, Eggs, & Non-Meat Protein Alternatives
- Choose meats with the words round or loin (these are the best cuts) as well as choice or select. Try to stay above 90% lean ground meats for reducing total and saturated fat content.
- Aim for at least 2 servings of fatty fish per week or more (i.e. tuna, salmon).
- Choose white meat poultry such as boneless, skinless chicken breast and lean ground turkey breast.
- Eggs are a great source of complete protein. Limit yourself to no more than 5 eggs per week unless your doctor tells you otherwise.
- Watch your portion sizes with meat/fish/poultry/eggs because these foods are calorie dense and should be portioned to no more than ¼ of your plate. Keep your portion sizes of meat to around 3-4oz.
- Nuts, seeds, legumes, and beans are also a good source of protein and fiber.
We need fat in our diet to keep us healthy and to help absorb essential vitamins; however some fats are better for your health than others. Heart-healthy fats such as avocados and olives contain monounsaturated fats, which help to decrease total and LDL (aka “bad”) cholesterol in our bodies.
Hope Danielson, Health and Wellness Advisor
Melanie Pavlovic, Registered Dietitian
Niemann Foods/County Market