In a typical supermarket, you'll find the healthier, fresh foods -- fruits, vegetables, meat and dairy -- around the perimeter of the store. The inner aisles contain the unhealthier, processed foods, which are often high in saturated fats, trans fats, preservatives, sodium, and calories.
When choosing fruits and vegetables, select as many different colors as possible for the best all-around health benefits. The different colors indicate different combinations of nutrients, and eating a wide variety of colors will ensure that you are getting a diverse assortment of nutrients, including vitamins and minerals.
In the deli and meat section, select lean cuts of meat, poultry and seafood rather than the processed ones that you find in the inner aisles of the market. They are lower in sodium, which may affect your blood pressure, and don't contain nitrates, which may cause cancer.
In the dairy section, select low fat or non-fat products. You will save 70 calories by drinking 8 fl oz of non-fat versus whole milk. Also choose low fat or non-fat cottage cheese, yogurt and sour cream.
Skip the cookies and cakes and other sweets in the bakery section, and look for 100% whole grain bread. If a bread contains high fructose corn syrup, make sure is not one of the first ingredients listed. Ingredients are listed in order according to level of content.
Inside the perimeter of the market, look for condiments, low and non-fat salad dressings, cereals made with whole grains and little sugar, and other healthy choices. Read the labels, and be on guard.
It's in the inner aisles that most of the marketing is aimed at you, and it's usually at eye level. So look high and low, and around the perimeter of the market, for the better choices.
Megan Porter, RD