Food

10 Healthier Options For Your Everyday Groceries

There’s no shortage of shocking info about what’s in your groceries. Here are tips to sidestep the unhealthier choices, courtesy of the new book by Dr. Jayson Carlton and certified nutritionist Mira Carlton, Rich Food, Poor Food.

1. Milk: Look for grass-fed, non-homogenized, organic milk in opaque packaging.

Ashley Perez

THE GOOD STUFF
Grass-fed cows (vs. grain-fed) deliver two essential fats: conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and omega-3s, making their milk micronutrient-rich. Organic indicates that the cattle receive no synthetic hormones or antibiotics. Non-homogenized means the product hasn’t been chemically altered, changing the way we digest it (and increasing likelihood of allergic reactions). Opaque paper packaging blocks light from degrading the quality of the milk.

THE BAD STUFF
Most generic brands have been robbed of the micronutrients that make milk worth drinking to begin with. Furthermore, non-organic cattle are eating crops injected with genes from other organisms to manipulate their DNA (GMOs, or genetically modified organisms) and increase industrial efficiency.

Non-dairy milk alternatives: Look for organic, sweetener-free, thickener-free variaties.

 

Of the non-dairy milk alternatives, coconut milk is the most micronutrient-rich. Though soy milk and almond milk remain great alternatives to dairy products, soy milk has been linked to digestive issues. That’s because it is rich in oligosaccharides, carbohydrates that can be difficult for the body to break down.

2. Eggs: Look for USDA-certified organic eggs.

Ashley Perez

THE GOOD STUFF
USDA-certified organic eggs must be fed organic, non-GMO feed, free of antibiotics and pesticides. Additionally, they must be kept uncaged in barns or warehouses with access to the outside.

THE BAD STUFF
Be aware that cage-free may sound nice, but it doesn’t necessarily mean happy chickens. Though cage-free chickens must be kept outside of cages with access to food and water, they do not have to have access to the outdoors. Also, their feed does not have to be organic.

3. Bread: Always check the first ingredient listed.

THE GOOD STUFF
Though the authors of Rich Food, Poor Food believe bread should be avoided, we understand bread is often unavoidable. Steer clear of the worst stuff by looking for breads made with whole grains. The first ingredient should be either “100% whole wheat” or “100% whole grain” to make sure you’re getting the healthiest option.

THE BAD STUFF
If the first ingredient is “wheat flour” or “enriched bleached flour,” then white flour was mostly used rather than whole-wheat flour.

4. Cheese: Look for organic, non-shredded cheese.

THE GOOD STUFF
Organic, grass-fed cheese means richer micronutrients. For example, grass-fed cattle produce cheese up to 400 times richer in fat-metabolizing CLA (conjugated linoleic acid). In addition, buying block cheese and cutting it yourself will help preserve your cheese’s micronutrients and protect you from harmful additives.

THE BAD STUFF
When buying cheese, it’s best to avoid the pre-shredded varieties, as many of them contain cellulose powder (literally minuscule pieces of wood pulp) used to absorb moisture in packaging and extend the product’s shelf life.

5. Yogurt: Look for organic, non-homogenized yogurts containing live active cultures.

Ashley Perez

THE GOOD STUFF
Organic yogurts contain many micronutrient and probiotic benefits, which can aid digestion and boost your immune system by increasing the production of the infection-fighting proteins.

THE BAD STUFF
All yogurt is made by adding two types of bacteria to milk, but many of these bacteria die after the initial process of heating the yogurt. Therefore, look for varieties that contain active or living cultures, as opposed to simply having been made with living cultures.

6. Butter: Look for butter made from grass-fed cows.

Ashley Perez

THE GOOD STUFF
Grass-fed cows produce butter that has 50% more of the vitamins A & E, and almost 400% more beta-carotene, which is converted to Vitamin A in the body, than factory-farmed cows. Organically raised cattle also ensure high levels of naturally occurring omega-3s and CLA.

THE BAD STUFF
Though organic may seem like a passing buzzword, consider this: Unwanted growth hormones (such as rBGH and rBST, “bovine growth hormones”) injected into factory-raised cattle accumulate in the highest concentration in butterfat.

7. Beef: Look for grass-fed and grass-finished, organically raised beef.

Ashley Perez

THE GOOD STUFF
Grass-fed meat is richer in micronutrients than grain-fed meat, containing fat-metabolizing CLA and inflammation-reducing omega-3s. Grass-finished means the cattle are fed grass until their slaughter, as opposed to just grass-fed, which can allow cattle to be fed grains before processing to improve texture and taste. Finally, organic ensures that your beef is free of antibiotics, hormones, and GMOs.

THE BAD STUFF
Aside from being drained of its natural flavors, the beef produced by grain-fed cattle is much higher in fat content and devoid of many micronutrients.

8. Poultry: Look for organic, free-range, air-chilled chicken.

Ashley Perez

THE GOOD STUFF
Organic in reference to poultry means chickens are fed 100% non-GMO feed that contains no animal by-products. Air-chilled chickens absorb less water and have up to 80% lower bacteria counts than water-chilled chickens.

THE BAD STUFF
Many chickens are processed in community-style chlorine baths before their packaging, adding unnecessary water weight to the meat before it’s delivered to grocery stores. In addition, water-chilled chickens lose their naturally flavorful juices as the excess water escapes during cooking.

9. Soda: Look for naturally sweetened sodas that don’t contain phosphoric acid or artificial coloring.

Ashley Perez

THE GOOD STUFF
Sodas that are sweetened with stevia, a naturally derived sweetener, or cane sugar are healthier alternatives to their corn-syrup sisters.

THE BAD STUFF
When it comes to carbonated beverages, carbonation isn’t the enemy; it’s the rest of what goes into soda that can be harmful to the body. Artificial colorings have been linked to hyperactivity in children.

10. Ice cream: Look for organic milk, real fruit, and no artificial flavorings.

Ashley Perez

THE GOOD STUFF
I think we all know ice cream is never going to be good for us. But if you want to indulge every now and then, opt for ice cream with organic milk made without artificial dyes.

THE BAD STUFF
Some vanilla, strawberry, and raspberry-flavored ice creams include an ingredient called castoreum, which is the pus that oozes out of the castor sacs of mature beavers. Marketed as a “natural ingredient,” this is definitely one ingredient to avoid.

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