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Good Health Begins With What You Put In Your Grocery Cart

By Ellen Jones
Benicia News - Benicia, CA, Aug 14, 2006

When you go grocery shopping, what goes into your cart? Frozen dinners and donuts or fruits and veggies? Good health begins with shopping for the most nutritious ingredients you can find. When you're shopping for your weekly menus, here are some wasy tips to make help you on your path to healthy living:

Buy whole foods:

Your body needs whole, unprocessed foods to be healthy and energetic. Fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains are whole foods. These foods contain more nutrients and fiber than processed, packaged foods and they give your body the fuel it needs to be the best it can be. These foods boost your immunity to illness and disease and also help you keep your weight down because they are full of vitamins, minerals and fiber instead of empty calories that your body can't use.

When shopping for healthy ingredients, how can you tell which is a processed food? Check the label. If it lists ingredients you can't pronounce and don't recognize, it is probably a processed food. An orange or a head of lettuce are whole foods. A frozen dinner which comes out of a box is processed and quite probably contains excess sugar, dyes, preservatives and chemicals. Many processed foods also contain excess sodium which drives up blood pressure.

For Good Health, Buy local products: Support local farmers and growers

Food will be fresher and taste better if its grown in your state because it hasn't traveled thousands of miles across the US or from out of the country to your local supermarket. Fresher foods contains more nutrients than food which is picked or prepared hundreds of miles away before it is fully ripe. Also, as energy prices rise, the gas needed to ship these products costs more, leading to increased prices in the food you purchase.

According to the group Local Harvest, when buying at a large supermarket, only 18 cents of every food dollar spent goes to the grower and 82 cents of that same dollar goes to various middlemen. Who would you like to see benefit from the precious dollars you spend on food?

For the most nutrients, Buy products in season

Ever wonder why a tomato purchased in January tastes like cardboard? Tomatoes don't naturally grow in January and those that are have less nutrients than a fresh, locally grown tomato purchased in June. December is the time to enjoy wonderfully luscious oranges and apples.

For Good Health Buy Organic when possible:

There is much debate about whether or not organically grown foods contain more nutrients than their non-organic counterparts. However, when you think about it, who needs to put excess chemicals from fertilizers and pesticides into their bodies if an organic alternative is available.

Some organic produce is more costly, but remember when shopping for healthy produce, the more people who demand organic food and purchase it, the lower the cost will become. Try local farmers markets in your area.

To make your good health shopping easier, search your area for an organic food co-op. These co-ops typically charge a fee for joining and deliver fresh, locally grown produce in season about twice a month for a reasonable rate. Because the co-op buys food in bulk and distributes it to its members, the costs are lower.

To find local farmer's markets, food co-ops and local farms and growers, go to the Local Harvest website and put in your city and state.


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