Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Shopping Guide

I have always been interested in nutrition and when I decided to change my diet to promote better health, I visited a nutritionist. It was fascinating and motivating, a 90 minute meeting that seemed like 30.  Philosophies are constantly changing, but immediately below is one nutritionist's opinion, as of 2012. 

Organic: The number one thing to do for good health is to buy organic dairy, produce, eggs, meat and poultry. Whole Foods is one of the best resources.  Trader Joe's and better regional chain grocers are finally starting to stock more organic items.

Organic Produce:  Sometimes buying organic is not always an option so a list of the fruits and vegetables with the most pesticide residue {the dirty dozen} and the least pesticide residue { the clean 15 } is a valuable tool to arm yourself with in order to make informed decisions.

Dairy: Buy low-fat vs. non-fat.  Recent studies have shown that the presence of fat helps the body absorb calcium better.

Milk: If not organic, then choose those labeled as being "hormone free";  grass fed is good; omega 3 is good too.

Eggs: Eggs from local farmers are best;  overall, choose organic, cage free, free roaming, Omega 3; soy free not necessary but fine.

Yogurt: Healthy to consume if organic and low-fat. Wallaby at Whole Foods is the best. Try substituting yogurt when recipes call for mayonnaise or sour cream.

Domestic Cheese: Buy organic or at least those labeled "hormone free".  I like buying cheese at Whole Foods because it takes the guessing game away: they don't carry cheese from hormone fed animals.

European Cheese:  The understanding is that all European cheese is good to buy.  European farmers are not permitted to engage in the shenanigans that US farmers engage in.

Soy: Pure soy like soy milk, edamame, tofu and tempeh is fine although perhaps in moderation. Concentrated soy and soy protein isolates found in many mock meats, supplements, and energy bars should be avoided. Buy GMO free. Soybean oil and soy sauce are fine. Studies show that up to 3 servings per say is good.

Seafood: Choose wild;  farmed seafood may contain dye, particularly farmed salmon, and farming techniques outside the US are not currently regulated. Focus on salmon and other oil fish to get a boost of Omega 3;  limit consumption of fish that contains heavy amounts of mercury such as mackerel, swordfish and shark.

Meat & Poultry:  I only eat seafood so we did not discuss.  However, upon referring to Dr Weil's food pyramid, you'll see that all land animal protein {meat, eggs, dairy} is limited.

Grains:  The best grain, nutritionally speaking, is quinoa.

Breads and pasta: The best bread and pasta products are from Ezekiel, found at Whole Foods and natural markets. They are flour-less, containing whole sprouted grains.   Most other products have taken healthy whole grains and over-processed them into flour.

Nut butter: Almond butter is more nutritious than peanut butter but both provide a good source of plant protein.  Grind your own if your grocery store or Whole Foods Market has that set up. Otherwise purchase a container or jar that has only one ingredient:  nuts.  The popular brands are not too terribly healthy as they contain additives including salt, sugar and palm oil {poison!} to prevent separating.

Focus on consuming as many of these these anti-oxidant rich foods as possible on a daily basis.

Follow what Dr Weil and Dr Oz have to say.

GMO:  say no to genetically modified foods until further studies have been completed. I love shop-no-gmo app;  here is the website.

Vitamins:  Get tested for Vitamin B-12 and Vitamin D. Buy supplements if you are deficient.  There is a strong correlation between Vitamin B-12 deficiency and neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's and MS.  And a disturbing majority of cancer patients have one thing in common: a deficiency in Vitamin D.

Alkalinity: Here is where I am choosing to disagree with my western experts. My nutritionist and doctors all disagree with the concept of  an acidic body being the perfect host for cancer. Yet they all agree that squeezing the juice from a lemon into a glass of water daily, drinking the apple cider and honey tonic daily{both drinks are highly alkaline} and limiting or eliminating meat {highly acidic} are important things to do. {A friend of mine who is not an extreme health sergeant turned me on to this interesting read;  she encourages everyone she knows to invest in a water ionizer for the kitchen sink.

And other shopping tips that are simply my humble opinions:

Olive oil:  buy first cold pressed.

Butter: go for the European varieties. Kerrygold and Plugra are delicious and free of hormones.

Balsamic:  look for "aged".

Herbs: such a waste when you need 1 T and have to buy a whole bunch.  Plant a little herb garden at home!

Fish:  Costco has very fresh fish - fresh and flash frozen that are just as good if not better than what you will find at Whole Foods or your specialty fish market.

Spices: Penzey's offers a nice variety of regular and ethnic spices. If you don't have a storefront near you, you can order online

Hard to find items: if you don't have a cook's shop or ethnic markets near you, items like treacle or preserved lemons can be hard to find.  You can find anything you need online or possibly here online at my local "Disneyland", Surfas.

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