(Health Secrets) Are you thinking about eating healthy? Food choices play an important role in your health and in the health of the environment. Realizing this, the consumer protection organization Environmental Working Group (EWG) has just released a shopping guide that is the first to take a systematic look at 19 critical nutrients, national average prices, and environmental concerns, such as mercury in fish, pesticide residues in produce, and green house gases from protein choices. If you want to eat healthy and have affordable meals at home, their guide will provide top tips for healthy eating, quick lists of best foods, good tasting recipes, and easy to use tools that track food prices and help plan your weekly menus. Menu planning is key to effectively staying on a budget!
Top tips for eating healthy and low cost
EWG’s guide can help you plan meals and make shopping lists that will help you save money and use up what you already have. Learn how to use this information in conjunction with the deals at your grocery store.
Get started by incorporating enough fruits and vegetables in your meal plan so that half your plate will consist of them. Items from the produce counter have a huge nutritional and health payback for the their cost. Some of the best fruits are bananas, nectarines (domestic only), oranges, pears, and watermelon. These do not have excessive pesticide loads and can be consumed relatively safely when produced conventionally. Dried fruits make great snacks for both kids and adults. Get the best nutritional bang for your buck with California raisins and prunes.
Vegetables are the mainstay of healthy eating and their vibrant colors are a tip off to the nutrients they contain. So be sure to include vegetables from each color group in your meal planning. Green vegetables are one of the few sources of magnesium, a mineral that is involved in more than 300 bodily processes. Most of us are deficient in magnesium, so include lots of greens in meal plans. Broccoli, collards, romaine lettuce, mustard greens, and parsley are the best choices. These are relatively safe if grown conventionally. Spinach is a winner too, but it has high levels of pesticide residue and should only be bought if it is organic.
Add beans and lentils to your meal plans. They make terrific substitutes for meat because they provide protein and are also major cancer fighters. In addition, the production of beans and lentils is less environmentally intrusive. Best choices from the bean kingdom are black, pinto, red kidney, and garbanzo (chickpeas). Black-eyed peas are winners too.
Another way to get plenty of protein without having to buy much expensive meat is by adding nuts and seeds to your meal plan. Best choices are peanuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, and sunflower seeds.
As you can see, EWG emphasizes eating whole foods, which are foods in the form in which they were created by nature. Processed foods like frozen pizza, cookies and soda usually cost more than whole foods but provide little in the way of nutrition, and a lot in the way of weight gain and obesity. When you eat foods that do not provide a high level of nutrition, your body keeps on sending the signal that it wants more food. When highly nutritious whole foods are eaten, the body is quickly satiated and weight control is easy.
This is just the beginning. EWG’s guide covers the best nutritional bang for the buck in all the food groups. It has plenty of recipes for making whole foods taste wonderful, including Chinese and Mediterranean. There’s even a section on spices and salad dressings. And if your kids are used to junk food consumption, there are special features to help them make the transition to healthy eating on a budget. Best of all, EWG’s food guide is free!
Download EWG’s Good Eating on a Tight Budget shopping guide.