Despite the complicated food rituals of fad-diets and extreme health nut meal plans, eating healthy is actually easy, balanced and uncomplicated. There are definitely better food choices than others, but in general, here are the basics.
1. Fruits and vegetables. The produce aisle is the most health promoting area of any grocery store. You can't make a poor fruit or vegetable choice – they all contain vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients – but some are considered superfoods because of their high antioxidant levels. Berries, cherries, apples, artichoke hearts, beans and even potatoes are chock full of cancer-fighting, anti-inflammatory, free-radical fighting antioxidants. And keep in mind that fresh and dried herbs and spices are rich in antioxidants and considered superfoods.
2. Nuts, seeds, beans and legumes. Versatile and teeming with unsaturated good for you fats, nuts and seeds can be eaten as snacks, mixed with fruit, tossed into salads, used in sweet or savory fillings, and ground into meal to replace flour in baked goods. Fresh nut butters can be used as sandwich spreads or used in sauces and dips. Beans and legumes are high in fiber as well as antioxidants and other phytonutrients – toss into grain salads, pasta dishes, and soups or puree with herbs and spices and use as dips or spreads. If buying canned beans, rinse them with water to reduce the sodium.
3. Grassfed meats and dairy and wild fish. Grassfed meats may be more expensive than commercially-produced beef, lamb or poultry, but they are free of antibiotics, hormones or other chemicals. They are also more naturally flavorful because they aren't fattened up before processing. Organic dairy and dairy products and eggs from free-range chickens are also free of drug and pesticide residue. Wild fish is less likely to be injected with dyes or chemicals and often tastes better than farmed fish.
4. Healthy cooking oils. Olive oil is the most recognized oil for its heart health benefits and superior amount of monounsaturated fat. However, sesame, flax, safflower and even coconut are healthy oils to include in your meals. (Read The healthiest cooking oils for your family to learn which oils are best for sautéing, baking and salad dressing.
5. Whole grains and whole grain products. Steer clear of instant white rice, white bread, and cereal, and baked goods with low or no fiber. Instead, opt for the wide range of delicious and healthy whole grains and products made with whole grains. Whole grain foods are less processed than white-flour based goods and are far more beneficial to your healthy and natural lifestyle. Give quinoa, wild rice, buckwheat, seven grain pilaf, wheat berries, brown rice and whole wheat cous cous or pasta a try. When buying cereal and breakfast foods, breads, tortillas, baked goods, and snack foods, choose high-fiber items made with whole grains.
Take these guidelines and list with you on your next shopping trip to take the confusion out of buying foods that will best promote your desire to live a healthy and natural life.
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