When shopping, it is crucial to remember guidelines to help determine which items are appropriate or inappropriate to include in the weekly menu. It is essential to keep in mind that composing our diet with healthy and balanced foods is the basis for preventing diseases in the long term.
To know if we are dealing with healthy food, we find the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) nutrition facts label in the case of packaged foods. The label indicates nutritional content, recommended servings, ingredients, food allergies, and warnings about possible health risks.
The label is essential, as a basis for knowing the foods we find. In addition, we give you 9 relevant guidelines that we advise you to take into account, on how to make a purchase that promotes healthy eating:
THE 9 KEYS TO MAKING HEALTHY FOOD CHOICES
1. MAKE A LIST
Making a list and sticking to it will prevent or minimize the likelihood of making impulse purchases of unhealthy or unnecessary foods. This helps you keep the focus on nutritious, seasonal foods based on your needs.
2. VARIETY OF HEALTHY FOODS
Try to include a wide variety in your daily diet. This will ensure that you get all the nutrients you need to maintain your health: carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals through fruits and vegetables).
3. CHOOSE FRESH FOOD
Your first choice when buying food should be to opt for fresh food, such as vegetables and fruits, eggs, fish… And, therefore, they should take up a good portion of the shopping cart. Opt for products that contain natural ingredients and are minimally processed.
4. CHOOSES MAINLY WHOLE GRAINS AND UNREFINED GRAINS
They are those that appear in whole grain cereals (rice, barley, oats, bread, pasta, semolina…) as well as in potatoes. The idea is to consume unrefined cereals because of their high fiber and water content, and also because they have fewer calories than refined cereals. Whole grains and their derivatives can protect us against weight gain for different reasons: their influence on satiety, the glycemic response after ingestion, and their antioxidant properties.
5. LOOK AT THE INGREDIENTS ON THE LABELS
When it comes to packaged foods, the first step in making healthy food choices is to understand the labels. You should know that its ingredients are ordered from greater to lesser quantities. In other words, the ingredient that makes up the majority of the product will appear first, and from then on, they will be listed in decreasing order. The shorter the list of ingredients, the better, as it means fewer additives and a “purer” food. It is necessary to observe which are the first in the list, which will be the ones with more quantity in their composition, to see if it is more or less healthy.
6. OPT FOR GOOD QUALITY FATS AND PROTEINS
Good quality fats should be present in our diet, for example, oily fish, olive oil, avocado, or nuts. It is important to look at the percentage of saturated fats in the food. Try to avoid products with unhealthy ingredients such as trans fats and saturated fats and choose monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. As for meats, opt for less fatty meats such as chicken or turkey and leave the consumption of other types of meats for specific occasions. In the list of ingredients, put the amount of chicken or turkey that is actually in the product. It is important that it is more than 85% of the total.
7. BE AWARE OF ADVERTISING
It is important to be aware of the information presented in the advertising of food products. Some may use marketing strategies that make them appear to be healthy foods, but in reality, they are not. Therefore, it is advisable to take a moment to carefully read the ingredients and nutritional information on the label of the product you are considering purchasing.
8. BE CAREFUL WITH SALT
We should consume a maximum of 5 grams of salt per day, which is equivalent to 2 grams of sodium per day. Not exceeding this consumption contributes to lowering blood pressure and the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and myocardial infarction. The main benefit of reducing salt intake is the corresponding decrease in arterial hypertension.
9. OPT FOR OPTIONS WITH LESS ADDED SUGAR
It is advisable to consider selecting foods that contain less added sugar. Some foods high in added sugar may be high in calories but low in nutritional density. To identify sugar levels, you can check the product’s Nutrition Facts label, which indicates the amount of total sugar and added sugar it contains.
Making healthy food choices requires awareness. Think at home about what dishes you want to prepare during the week, prepare your list, and don’t be demanding: allow yourself to listen to your body and be flexible with what you feel like! In this way, you will improve the body’s function and prevent the onset of chronic diseases.