If you’re trying to eat healthy but having a difficult time finding the right foods to buy, a trip to the grocery store can be quite intimidating. For weight management, disease prevention and overall good health, it’s important to eat a wide range of foods rich in macronutrients (carbohydrates, fat, and protein) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). Your local grocery store houses hundreds of foods that meet these criteria. Here are some of the healthiest to add to your grocery list, even if you have a frugal food budget.
Root Veggies and Bell Peppers
Root vegetables and bell peppers should never be forgotten during any grocery shopping trip, as they are cheap, easy to come by and incredibly nutrient-dense. Collectively, these veggies come in a spectrum of colors and include carrots, beets, and parsley, red and yellow pepper. They are also some of the best food sources of water-soluble vitamins, minerals and phytonutrient antioxidants, which greatly help to boost immunity and reduce disease risk.
Leafy Green Vegetables
Whether you prefer kale, collards, spinach, Swiss chard, dark lettuce or cruciferous varieties like broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy or red cabbage, leafy greens are arguably the world’s healthiest food. Regardless of the type, leafy green veggies are exceptionally low in calories and collectively rich in disease-fighting antioxidant nutrients and phytonutrients (isothiocyanates, indoles, beta-carotene, vitamins C and E), vitamin K, potassium, calcium, and fiber.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra virgin olive is a must-have grocery item. While on the more pricey side, just a little bit goes a very long way. The large variety of nutrients contained in this oil offer tremendous health benefits. Due to its high content of healthy monounsaturated fat, regularly consuming olive oil has been shown to improve cholesterol, reduce blood pressure among individuals with hypertension, and regulate blood glucose (sugar) levels in people with diabetes. In addition, the antioxidant compounds housed in extra virgin olive oil have been linked to a lower incidence of heart disease and cancer.
Fresh or Frozen Berries
Berries are packed full of nutrients and just plain old good for you. Whether you prefer blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, strawberries or raspberries, they are all rich in disease-fighting flavonoids and key vitamins and minerals including vitamin C. Berries are also virtually fat-free, low in sodium, and totally free of cholesterol. The versatility of berries is endless, as they can be included in smoothies, whole-grain cereals and breads, yogurt, salads, casseroles, and much more.
Oily Fish Varieties
Oily fish varieties like salmon, tuna and trout are among the healthiest, most versatile protein sources around. Due to low mercury levels, eating a variety of these fish is a great way to obtain your daily doses of selenium, vitamin B12, and vitamin D. In fact, just one serving of oily fish provides an average of 50-60 percent of a day’s worth of vitamin D. These fish are also rich in healthy omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, which possess powerful anti-inflammatory and disease-fighting effects.
Tomatoes are excellent for stand-alone snacking and cooking, as they can easily be added to salads, omelets, soups, stews and chili. There are wide varieties from which to choose including plum, cherry, and grape tomatoes each of which are low in calories, high in fiber and rich in vitamins and minerals (vitamin C and potassium). The reddest tomatoes are an excellent source of carotenoid antioxidants including beta-carotene and lycopene, which have potent heart disease and cancer-fighting effects.
Plain Strained Yogurt
Like unstrained (regular) yogurt, strained (Greek-style) yogurt is extremely rich in calcium, phosphorous and vitamin B12, all of which are critical for bone health. Unlike regular yogurt, Greek-style yogurt is low in sugar and exceptionally high in protein making it a great food source for weight management and overall good health. Greek yogurt also houses large concentrations of probiotics, which are “friendly” bacteria that reduce the growth of harmful bacteria in the body helping to boost immunity and reduce disease risk.
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