A Clean Start to Your Grocery Cart

Losing weight and getting healthy are in the top five New Year’s resolutions.  And good health starts with your grocery cart.  What you put into your cart will end up on your table, so what can you do right now to “clean up your cart” so you can make the best choices for your health?  Jen Haugen, Hy-Vee Dietitian, shares what’s important so you will know what to keep in your cart this year.

#1: Read the Label

Look for foods that provide you with a rich source of nutrition.  Think milk, fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains.  These are the foods that will give you what you need each day.  Things you don’t need to pay attention to are the words “natural” or “simple” as they have no standard definitions.  And unless you have celiac disease or a diagnosed gluten sensitivity, there is no medical reason to avoid gluten despite the growing popularity of this diet.  And the term “GMO-free” does not signify a difference in nutrition, nor has it been deemed “healthier”.  

#2: Fiber Focused

Less than 3% of Americans meet their daily requirement for fiber of 25-35 grams per day, which is vital for digestive health and reducing risk of chronic diseases.  Look for foods that are natural sources of fiber like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.   Foods like oats, black beans and barley are exceptional choices.

#3: Plant Power

Remember MyPlate?  It’s that visual tool to help you consume a balanced meal.  Be sure to load up on fruits and vegetables to boost plant power.  That means, depending on our age and gender, we need to be consuming 1-2 cups per day of fruit and 1-3 cups per day of vegetables.  Adults are on the higher end of those recommendations while children on the lower end of those recommendations.

#4: More Omega-3s

These special good-for-you fats contribute positively to your health and can be found in salmon, mackerel and herring.  For plant sources of those fats, you can try flaxseed or flax oil, chia seeds, walnuts and soybeans.  But note, that the plant forms are not as easily absorbed by the body so we need to consume a variety of these types of foods, including fish 2-4 times per week.

#5: Pure Protein

Protein is an important part of our meals because it provides us with a full-feeling, contributes to tissue repair, and fosters growth in children.   Look for lean sources of protein for heart health, like pork’s Slim 7 or beef’s Lean 29, and try beans, lentils, low-fat cheese and milk, eggs and nuts.

Jen Haugen represents Hy-Vee as a nutrition expert promoting healthy eating throughout the community.  Jen is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and a Greater Minnesota Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Spokesperson.