Shopping can be overwhelming with all the choices, especially if you are trying to eat healthy foods. Making sure your meal plan is balanced and nutritious is an easy way to ensure that you are getting enough of the vitamins and minerals you need to prevent diseases and keep your body strong and functioning optimally.
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Luckily, there are plenty of healthy options at the supermarket. Toss these 10 things in your cart and you’re well on your way to preparing healthy meals and snacks.
1. Fresh Fruits And Vegetables
According to Samantha Lynch, registered dietician, fresh produce should make up a good portion of your grocery cart. You need to include as many in-season options as possible, making sure to buy at least one leafy green vegetable and one type of berry. That’s because those two items are very high in antioxidants, which your body needs to fight free radical damage and prevent a wide range of health problems. Fruits and vegetables are also packed with vitamins A and C, potassium, iron, calcium and much more. The more variety you get, the more nutrients you’re getting.
The best thing about eggs is that they are a very healthy alternative to meat, in terms of protein. If you don’t eat meat or are on a budget, eggs can stand at any meal. Besides containing a good dose of protein, eggs also contain choline, vitamin D and other nutrients that benefit your health. Use eggs to make omelets, quiche, frittata or breakfast burritos. Hard-boiled eggs are a great snack idea, and you can eat them on the go or at home.
3. Low-Fat Milk And Cheese
Unless directed by your doctor, you shouldn’t give up all dairy foods. They are one of the best sources of calcium, which your body needs for strong bones and teeth. Many versions of milk are fortified with vitamin D, and dairy foods also contain protein. The trick is to limit your portion sizes and keep your intake at a moderate level so that you don’t go overboard with calories.
4. Frozen Ground Turkey Or Shrimp
If you choose to add meat to your meal plan, ground turkey and shrimp are both good choices. They are low in calories, when compared to other types of meat, and are chock full of protein and iron. Use ground turkey to make burgers, tacos or soup. Shrimp is great on the grill and served with veggies, tossed into a salad or chopped and added to a pizza.
5. Frozen Vegetables
When vegetables are frozen, they are done so at the peak of ripeness, which means they often contain more nutrients than the fresh version, which has likely been shipped from somewhere far away. Steam frozen veggies for a fast side dish, toss them into a pot of soup, make fried rice or serve them in a casserole to beef up the nutrient content. Any kind of frozen vegetable is healthy, so choose those you like eating so you are more willing to prepare them.
6. Plain Greek Yogurt
While yogurt is a healthy choice, many of the fruit flavored versions are too high in sugar to be healthy. Opt for plain Greek yogurt, which contains more protein than traditional yogurts and is much lower in the sweet stuff. Top a scoop with fresh fruits and a dab of honey for a filling and delicious meal or snack.
The American Heart Association recommends eating at least two servings of fish each week. This is because it’s good for your heart and brain due to the omega-3 fatty acids it contains. Salmon is the top choice and can be baked, grilled or roasted for a flavorful meal. In addition to omega-3s, salmon is also a good source of iron and vitamin D.
8. 100% Whole Wheat Bread
Refined grains should be avoided because they are lower in nutrients. Choosing the whole grain version means less processing and more iron and B vitamins. When you buy bread, look for 100% whole grains as the first ingredient. This also goes for crackers, cereal and pasta.
Oats are a whole grain and make a great addition to your meal plan. They are perfect for a morning meal and can also be ground and added to muffins, pancakes or meatloaf to add bulk as well as fiber and iron.
10. Herbs And Spices
When you want to eat healthily, you must cut back on cooking fats, which can make foods taste bland and boring. By adding your favorite herbs and spices instead, you get a flavorful meal that is low in fat and calories. Any herb or spice will do, so try them all.