MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — When at the grocery store, picking healthy foods for your family can be overwhelming.
There can be so many options and claims on the labels.
Nutritionist Susan Moores of Kowalski’s Markets suggests taking it one category at a time.
“One week you’re going to look at juices and the next week you’re going to look at cereals, and each week you get a great sense of what’s in your foods and the best products to pick,” she said.
Moores says juice can be deceiving.
“What gets to be tricky is it will say on the label it’s a certain type of juice, it’s really good to turn it around and on the ingredients, see if that’s the type of juice that’s in it,” she said.
For example, the first ingredient in Dole Orange Peach Mango juice is actually apple juice.
“Apple, pear and grape juice are often used by manufacturers because they’re less expensive,” Moores said. “From a nutrition stand point, they’re really not as robust, there’s really not a lot of nutrition and vitamins in apple, pear and grape juice.”
To make sure you’re getting what you pay for, Moores says always check the label. When in doubt, stick to non-blends, such plain orange juice.
Next up: yogurt.
“There is a lot of added sugar when it comes to yogurt, and we’ve come to learn that sugar is pretty harmful in large doses,” Moores said.
Compare plain with fruited yogurt, and you’ll find double the sugar. Moores recommends buying plain, and adding in your own sugar at home.
“You can add your own fruit, you can add your own jam, and you start doing the math, and you realize in many fruited yogurts there is 3-5 teaspoons of added sugar,” she said.
Be careful with cereal.
Susan says health claims on the box can often be a bait and switch, such as in Special K that claims to have fruit and yogurt.
“The first ingredient is rice, and really the first ingredient should be a whole grain,” she said. “Then you say, Where does the fruit and yogurt come in, because that’s what drew me in? When you get to yogurt, it’s down here, way down here, yogurt powder.”
“Any benefits that were in that yogurt are long gone,” she added, “because it’s been heated and that pulls out any of the active cultures or that would have been great.”
When it comes to ingredients, Moores says, the fewer the better.
“Grape Nuts is actually pretty great,” she said. “When you look at the ingredient list, really pretty simple, whole grain wheat, wheat flour, there’s your sugar, barley, a little bit of oil, pretty simple ingredient list.”
For snack bars, Moores says Cliff Bars have brown rice syrup listed as the first ingredient, which means sugar.
“So if you’re using it for energy, for refueling after a workout, it’s a fine pick, but if you’re using it as a snack bar to carry over until dinner, the sugar will give you that high energy, but then you’ll come tumbling down,” she said.
Instead, Moores recommends reaching for a Kind Bar, which pretty much contains nuts and honey.
If you’re still shopping for Thanksgiving, Moores says to keep these tips in mind:
— Choose a turkey that states it’s raised without the use of antibiotics.
— Skip self-basting birds — that significantly drives up the sodium content.
— Pick whole berry cranberry relish vs. the gelled variety that has additives and little of the natural nutrients found in whole cranberries.
— Make your own relish. It’s simple to do, and it makes it easy to control the sugar content.
— Check the ingredients list if purchasing pre-made pie. Avoid pies with partially hydrogenated fat, which is usually used in the crust.