Healthy Food Shopping: Shop the Perimeter at the Grocery Store

Healthy Food Shopping: Shop the Perimeter at the Grocery Store

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Descriptions of food as enriched, refined and processed give you, as a knowledgeable shopper, three reasons to avoid them. Enriching a product is a way to replace nutrients lost in the process of modifying it. Refining strips away nutrients as well as fiber, and processing adds artificial ingredients that change food in significant ways. Convenience often persuades some shoppers to buy foods that are manufactured, but reading the labels may encourage you to adopt perimeter shopping as a preferable alternative.

 

Make a Sharp Turn to the Right

Your grocery store's configuration may put your favorites to the left instead of the right, but either way is better than going straight ahead. The aroma of freshly baked bread encourages the placement of the bakery near the front of the store, so you may want to start there.

 

Choose any bread that has color

The darker ones are usually healthier. Talk to the bakers about the ingredients and get recommendations for the ones that contain the most grains and fiber. Any bread in the bakery is fresher than the packaged varieties on the shelves, and they are less likely to contain preservatives. Also look at the label of the packaging, some breads might include coloring to make them look healthier.

 

Follow the Rainbow in the Produce Department

Nature provides an astonishing array of colors to attract your attention, and white is absent for a good reason. Aside from a few exceptions such as mushrooms, cauliflower and onions, concentrations of nutrients are higher in fruits and vegetables that are deeply colored.

 

  • - Red is associated with nutrients that reduce bad cholesterol levels and blood pressure. Add sweet potatoes, tomatoes, watermelon, cherries and apples to your cart.
  • - Green provides a storehouse of nutrients that reduce risks of cancer, and they lower LDL levels and blood pressure. Broccoli or cabbage, grapes, avocados, asparagus, beans and lettuce are favorite choices.
  • - Orange and yellow contain nutrients that build bones and reduce age-related eye problems in addition to reducing blood pressure. Butternut squash, corn, pineapple, cantaloupe and carrots are loaded with beta-carotene.
  • - Blue and purple have nutrients similar to other colors, and they improve calcium absorption as well. Raisins, blackberries and blueberries, plums, eggplant and prunes contribute to a healthy lifestyle.

 

Talk to the Butcher

Frozen and packaged meats often contain high concentrations of salt to preserve them, while fresh meat, fish and chicken are likely to contain far less. Your butcher knows more about the food in the display case than you may expect. If  you can afford it, buy organic. While the differences between organic and non organic vegetables and fruits might not be that huge it certainly does makes a huge differences when it comes to meat. By purchasing organic meats you can make sure that the animals have been fed well and kept well and not pumped full of growth hormones.

 

Make the Dairy Section Your Last Stop

Keeping your butter, milk and yogurt cold is a good practice, so make dairy your final destination on your walk around the perimeter. Remember to put dairy items away promptly when you return home. Milk stays fresh at 40 degrees, but it loses 50 percent of its shelf life for every five degrees above that temperature.

 

Stay Out of the Middle

With practice, you can learn to shop only the perimeter of your grocery store. An occasional foray into a middle aisle is acceptable if you make it quick and get out soon. Avoid looking at temptations that can wreck your plan. By shopping the perimeter, you save money and improve the overall health of your family.

Editor, 09/08/2016

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