Tips for healthy gro­cery shop­ping

Lesotho Times - - Scrutator -

GOOD nu­tri­tion starts with smart choices in the gro­cery store. Cooking up healthy meals is a chal­lenge if you don’t have the right in­gre­di­ents in your kitchen.

But who has time to read all the food la­bels and fig­ure out which items are the most nu­tri­tious and the best buys? Gro­cery shop­ping can be a daunt­ing task, sim­ply be­cause there are so many choices.

“Mar­kets per­form a great public ser­vice, but keep in mind they are de­signed to get you to buy (and, there­fore, eat) more food, not less,” says Mar­ion Nestle, PHD, MPH, pro­fes­sor of nu­tri­tion at New York Uni­ver­sity and au­thor of What to Eat: An Aisle-by-aisle Guide to Savvy Food Choices and Good Eat­ing. But with a lit­tle guid­ance, healthy choices are a cinch to find in any su­per­mar­ket.

Plan Ahead for Suc­cess The process starts even be­fore you head to the gro­cery store, ex­perts say. Be­fore you set out for the mar­ket, plan your meals for the week, and cre­ate a list to shop from. It takes a few min­utes, but saves time in run­ning back to the store for miss­ing in­gre­di­ents.

Head­ing to the gro­cery store armed with a list may make it eas­ier to fol­low a healthy diet, a study of shop­pers in Pitts­burgh sug­gests. Re­searchers sur­veyed more than 1,300 mostly over­weight and obese res­i­dents in two poor, pri­mar­ily African Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties and found that shop­pers who reg­u­larly made gro­cery lists also made higher qual­ity food choices and had lower body weights.

To save money, check the weekly gro­cery ads, and in­cor­po­rate sale foods into your meal plan­ning. And don’t shop hun­gry: An empty belly of­ten re­sults in im­pulse pur­chases that may not be the health­i­est. When faced with rows of treats, it’s tempt­ing to fill our trol­lies with food we know isn’t par­tic­u­larly good for our health.

But new re­search sug­gests eat­ing an ap­ple be­fore go­ing to the su­per­mar­ket may help us to re­sist the lure of crisps and choco­late.

Af­ter eat­ing an ap­ple, shop­pers buy 25 per­cent more fruit and veg­eta­bles than they would oth­er­wise, the study says.

Re­searchers from Cor­nell Uni­ver­sity com­pleted three ex­per­i­ments to draw their con­clu­sions.

In the first ex­per­i­ment, the sci­en­tists split 120 shop­pers into three group. The first group were given an ap­ple be­fore they ar­rived at the su­per­mar­ket and the sec­ond group were given a cookie. The third group ate noth­ing at all be­fore shop­ping.

Af­ter analysing their trol­lies, the re­searchers con­cluded that those who ate an ap­ple bought 28 per­cent more fruit and veg than those given a cookie.

The ap­ple eaters also bought 25 per­cent more fruit and veg than the group who ate noth­ing at all.

“What this teaches us, is that hav­ing a small healthy snack be­fore shop­ping can put us in a health­ier mind­set and steer us to­wards mak­ing bet­ter food choices,” one of the study au­thors Aner Tal said in a state­ment.

In the sec­ond and third ex­per­i­ments, par­tic­i­pants com­pleted a vir­tual shop­ping test.

For the sec­ond ex­per­i­ment, 56 par­tic­i­pants were split in half, with 28 of them eat­ing an ap­ple and 28 of them eat­ing a cookie be­fore the test be­gan. Each group was shown pic­tures of foods that are ei­ther high or low in calo­ries. You should be fill­ing your cart with plenty of fruits, veg­eta­bles, whole grains, dairy, lean meat, fish, poul­try, beans, and nuts, she says.

Most of us tend to eat the same foods over and over again. But va­ri­ety re­ally is the spice of life, says Ward.

“One of the tenets of the pyra­mid is va­ri­ety, so in­stead of white pota­toes, choose sweet pota­toes, which are much richer in beta-carotene, or baby spinach in­stead of ice­berg let­tuce,” she ad­vises.

Be ad­ven­tur­ous; aim to try a new fruit or veg­etable each week, she ad­vises.

Both Ward and Nestle say or­ganic foods are a great op­tion, but note that they may not be the most eco­nom­i­cal choice.

“You get the same nu­tri­tional benefits with fewer pes­ti­cides [with or­gan­ics], but eat­ing plenty of pro­duce is more im­por­tant than choos­ing or­ganic foods,” says Ward.

–– Webmd.

it pays to make good choices at the su­per­mar­ket.

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