Caution: Landmines in the Grocery Store Ahead
Knowing what is what in your grocery cart can save you fat, calories, and even money.
What to Choose in Each Section
Avoid prepared tuna and chicken salads, which generally contain full-fat
mayonnaise. Steer clear of macaroni and potato salads for the same reason. If
you're looking for ready-to-eat convenience, try the rotisserie chicken and a
green salad that doesn't come with dressing on it. For sandwiches, choose lean
roasted meats, such as turkey or roast beef. Avoid lunchmeats with visible fat
in them such as salami. Remember also that many of the deli meats contain high
amounts of salts. Look for part-skim cheeses.
In sliced bread, the wording is important. It can't just say
"wheat." It should say whole wheat, whole grain, or oat bran, says
Cindy Moore, MS, RD, director of nutrition therapy at The Cleveland Clinic
Foundation and an American Dietetic Association spokeswoman. Check the label
for fiber. Some brands have a whopping 4 grams per slice, but 2 or 3 grams is
the norm. It is recommended that adults should consume about 20 - 35 grams of
dietary fiber per day from a variety of sources.
If your brand has just 1 gram -- look closer at the label, it's likely not
fiber-filled whole wheat. For other fiber-rich baked goods, choose 100%
whole-wheat flat breads, wraps, and tortillas.
"Filet Mignon or more expensive cuts of beef are usually leaner
choices," says Moore. Lamb and pork chops or any beef (such as rump roast)
that needs to be slow cooked is generally leaner, too. Ham, sausage, bacon, and
short ribs are all meats higher in fat. Chicken and turkey are great options
but remember, prep method still matters. Frying or sautéing in butter will add
calories and fat, as will eating the skin.
Talk to the butcher or meat counter person at the grocery store. They're
often happy to trim excess fat or recommend cuts with the most marbling.
Fish such as salmon, tuna, and sea bass are tops picks, says Platzman.
They're filled with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. A study in the
Journal of the American Medical Association found that men who ate
fish at least once per month had less incidence of strokes caused by clogged
arteries than those who ate fish less often. Research shows a twice-a-week fish
meal may decrease your heart disease risk and lower bad cholesterol.
But since dangerous mercury levels have been detected in large specimens at
the top of the food chain, limit shark, swordfish, and king mackerel to no more
than one serving per week.
Go for reduced-fat or skim milk, and the fat-free version of any flavored
coffee creamers to cut calories and fat. Low-fat yogurts or those made with
non-caloric sweeteners, such as saccharin or NutraSweet, are the best bets at
the grocery store.