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Good, Better and Best

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Walking thru the grocery aisle at my local Wal-Mart and I will usually see someone I know.  Since most people know that I eat a clean diet they will stop and ask me for advice, “Which one would you eat, this one or this one?”  These days the grocery stores are packed with thousands of different food choices.  And while many of these can look very appealing on the outside, what’s on the inside can kick start changes to your waistline and leave you with less in your wallet.  That’s why I decided to give you a good, better and best look at your local grocery aisle.

 

 

 

DAIRY:

Good: Yogurt with fruit on the bottom.  Yogurt contains more calcium and protein than milk per gram and offers beneficial bacteria to help improve digestion.  However, these types of yogurt contain “fruit” that might not be so good for you.  These ingredients can contain fructose, corn syrup and other artificial ingredients.  There are better choices.

Better: Low-Fat Yogurt.  This type of yogurt is packed with healthy muscle building ingredients found in fruit yogurt, without all the questionable ingredients.  To add flavor mix in your own fresh fruit, walnuts or agave nectar.

Best: Greek Yogurt.  Greek yogurt is great because it’s thicker and creamier than regular yogurt.  It also contains twice the amount of protein and according to recent studies can reduce bladder cancer in men by 38%.

MEAT:

Good: Lean Ground Beef.  Beef is naturally high in protein and iron.  Your body uses iron to transport oxygen to working muscles.  It also contains B-vitamins, which help convert food into usable energy.  The problem is that lean ground beef lacks flavor and a label that reads 85% lean doesn’t mean only 15% of its calories are from fat.  It means it’s 15% fat by weight, meaning the percent of total calories from fat is much higher.

Better: Pork Tenderloin.  My kids love this one. Usually pork tenderloin can be as tasty as beef but at a much cheaper price and 1/3 the fat.

Best: Grass-Fed Beef: Though more expensive and harder to find, grass fed beef has more flavor and is healthier for you.  It contains more vitamin E, which protects cells from oxidative damage (aging and disease causing) and it offers better fat such as Omega-3’s.

BREADS:

Good: Multi-grain.  Multi-grain breads do contain mostly unrefined whole grains and are pumped full of refined flour (usually listed on the label as enriched wheat flour).  Processed breads like multi-grain will general cause a faster spike in blood sugar (fat storage) and should be limited.  However, multi-grain is much better than white bread.

Better: 100% Whole grain. Make sure you get 100% whole grain.  This means that your bread will contain only unrefined whole grain flour and all the vitamin E, magnesium, selenium, fiber and antioxidant compounds are still there.

Best: Sprouted Bread.  Made with sprouted whole grains and legumes, no bread has more protein — 8 grams per slice.  It also contains vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber.  The problem is that you can only find it in specialty stores and it is very expensive.

FRUIT:

Good: Bananas.  Bananas contain loads of potassium, an essential electrolyte necessary for proper brain, nerve and muscle function.  Waistlines beware, bananas are carbohydrate dense and have a high glycemic index.

Better: Apple.  Apples have fewer calories and carbs than bananas, but they contain a potent antioxidant called quercetin.  Research suggests that quercetin may boost the immune system and offer better protection from the flu.  Apples also contain pectin, which is a soluble fiber that helps keep blood cholesterol and sugar levels down.

Best: Wild Blueberries.  These berries are packed with the most absorb able antioxidants.  The antioxidants are vital for killing cell damaging and disease-inducing free radicals.  Plus, it may help reduce muscle damage after workouts.  Dr. Oz lists them as an edible cancer fighter.  *DON’T ASK ME HOW I KNOW*

PRODUCE:

Good: Iceberg Lettuce.  Though it has a very skimpy nutrient profile, iceberg lettuce does contain some fiber and vitamin K (found to protect men from prostate cancer).

Better: Spinach.  This is one of my favorites and one that I eat on a daily basis.  I mix it with eggs, use it in salads and top off sandwiches with it.  Compared to iceberg lettuce, spinach has more iron, calcium, potassium, foliate, vitamin C, Vitamin A and vitamin K.  Oh and by the way it may cut your risk of heart disease.

Best: Kale.  Packed with Vitamin C, can help speed your post workout muscle recovery and repair.

CEREAL:

Good: Granola.  Because it is made with nuts, if often has more protein and heart healthy unsaturated fats.  The downside, is the large amounts of six pack killing sugar that’s added.  I like Bare Naked brand granola.

Better: Oatmeal.  I love my bowl of oatmeal in the morning with a scoop of protein and a cup of mixed fruit (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and blueberries).  Oatmeal is packed with soluble fiber and complex carbohydrates to sustain your energy level all morning long.  But avoid the flavored varieties that contain refined sugar and artificial sweeteners.  Quick oats are a great choice if you are pressed for time.

Best: Steel Cut oatmeal.  Instant oatmeal is made from oat grains that are cut and rolled to make them cook faster.  Steel cut oats are made from oat grains that have been chopped by steel blades.  They are slightly less processed but take 25 to 30 minutes to cook.  I usually only eat steel cut oatmeal on weekends when I have more time for preparation.

SNACKS:

Good: Dark Chocolate.  This type of chocolate contains polyphenols which have been proven in numerous studies to fight off heart disease.  Because chocolate is very calorie dense, indulging in too much may lead to a bigger waistline.

Better: Popcorn.  Popcorn is a low calorie, whole grain snack that can help with late night cravings.  Your best choice is plain popcorn and adding your own healthy seasonings.

Best: Turkey Jerky.  This snack has an unbeatable protein to fat ratio and unlike most carb loaded snacks, it won’t significantly raise insulin levels (involved in fat storage).  Be aware that turkey jerky contains sodium nitrates which have been know, through research to increase your risk of cancer.

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