Nearly 9 out of 10 Americans obtain the food that nourishes their family at the supermarket, spending $100 every week and almost $5,000 annually. Last year, unwholesome heavily processed foods like salty snacks, frozen dinners and breakfast cereals were among the top 10 bestsellers, with carbonated beverages ringing in at #1, commanding a whopping $12 billion in sales.
The items tossed in your grocery cart play a huge role in the health and wellbeing of your family. Today’s supermarket shelves are stocked with tons of healthy and unhealthy foods. You need to make the right choices when walking the aisles, steering clear of foods that can have disastrous long-term health consequences for your household.
Here are 5 grocery items that should never make it through the checkout line.
1. Simple Sugars or Carbs and Unhealthy Fats
Skip foods laden with simple sugars, also called simple carbohydrates. Sugary breakfast cereals, donuts, pastries, cookies, ice cream, cakes and soda are loaded with them. Often referred to as “empty calories,” simple sugars are rapidly absorbed, spiking blood sugar levels for an initial energy high. This triggers an insulin reaction, driving levels back down and creating fatigue. You’ll feel hungrier and crave even more sugar. Plus those rapidly absorbed extra calories are stored as fat, putting you at risk for obesity.
Make smart choices by selecting fiber-rich complex carbohydrates, including 100% whole grain bread, brown rice or steel-cut oats. Select whole foods such as fresh vegetables and lean meats. These all provide slow, sustained releases of energy for long-lasting fuel. If you do crave something sweet, head for the produce aisle and pick out your favorite seasonal fruits such as pears, apples, or blueberries.
Processed sweets and goodies also contain saturated and trans fats that clog arteries and stunt weight loss. Instead purchase items rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, like avocados and nuts.
2. Meats High in Nitrates and Saturated Fats
Processed meats such as cold cuts, bacon, sausages and hot dogs contain nitrates, chemical additives that preserve freshness. Nitrates have been linked to stomach cancer and other degenerative diseases. These fatty meat products are also full of unhealthy saturated fat that can raise levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol, a risk factor for heart disease and strokes.
Ditch preserved meats altogether or look for ones that are advertised as “nitrate-free.” Buy meats low in saturated fats such as chicken and turkey or eat more fish, like salmon or tilapia, rich in healthy omega-3 fats. If you must have red meat, choose lean cuts like sirloin or tenderloin.