Are you trying to eat healthier but the thought of purchasing a whole new pantry with all those expensive superfoods from the health food aisle is giving you anxiety? Why not go easy on your piggy bank and stock up on just a few really healthy food items to get you started.
We suggest making a list of everything you want and then picking your top five items. Ultimately, you need to find out what foods are worth the extra splurge, so we have created 5 tips to help you out:
- Pick an item that is versatile, i.e. it can be added to many different dishes.
- Spend your money on something that is nutrient dense.
- Choose a healthy alternative to your normal guilty pleasures, ensuring you can indulge guilt free.
- Pick at least one item that is not only healthier for you, but healthier for the environment. This way your money goes further. “Win, win!”
- And last but not least, something to support a healthy digestive system. Because let’s face it, if you’re not pooping properly it will be your health that pays the price.
Don’t have time for this? Luckily, we have done the work for you and come up with 5 food items that are worth splurging on when you want to eat healthier.
1. Greens Superfood Powder
We all know how healthy superfoods and juicing are, but we simply don’t always have the time to make up a fresh green juice every day Greens powders are the next best thing. In fact, in our opinion they are basically the ultimate health food. Consider this your nutrient-dense food item, containing an array of powerful superfoods and providing your body with a quick and easy dose of important vitamins and minerals all at once. We recommend trying our very own greens superfood powder. Not only will your body thank you for this, but so will your taste buds. You can use this powder daily in water, juices, smoothies, and salad dressings to boost your health and energize your body. Otherwise, look for another greens powder that is also certified organic and contains no fillers, added sugars or artificial ingredients.
2. Protein Powder
Do you ever feel unsatisfied after a meal or get hungry not long after? It’s possible that you didn’t have enough protein with your meal, especially if you made yourself a nice big smoothie containing mostly veggies and fruit but skipped out on the protein powders. This is an extremely versatile food item that people often overlook – usually because they don’t know which type to buy or what to do with it. We always recommend eating whole food sources of protein first, because they typically come with more nutrients. But sometimes, especially when we are busy, protein powder is a great quick-to-prepare food item to have on hand to ensure your body is getting enough protein to feel nourished and satisfied. Most of us are familiar with people consuming protein powders in order to aide satiety and boost weight loss, sports performance and muscle gain, but they can also be used as a great additive to meals to promote overall wellness.
Some of our favorites include the animal-based whey and casein (grass fed) proteins as well as the plant-based hemp, pea and rice proteins. Many plant-based varieties aren’t complete proteins, which is why we suggest you look for a blend such as pea and rice, along with peanuts and a variety of sprouts and/or grains. Nonetheless, make sure you look for a protein powder that is free from chemicals, artificial sweeteners, fillers, thickeners and gums. Don’t be persuaded by the pretty packaging, instead head straight to the nutrition information panel on the back to check if it is low in sugar and free from the things listed above. If you are vegetarian or vegan then pay extra close attention to the ingredients list, making sure there are no animal products such as milk solids used.
3. Fermented Foods and Probiotics
Never underestimate the power of your ‘gut’, because living inside of everyone is an active community of dynamic bacteria all with a very important role in supporting our body’s overall wellness. The many different populations of bacteria found in our gut can be otherwise referred to as the ‘microbiota’ of the the gastrointestinal tract essential for the healthy functioning of our digestive system, immune system and physiological functions. Unfortunately, many people suffer from imbalances in their microbiota, which has been associated with symptoms such as gas, bloating, digestive discomfort, low immunity and general poor health, as well as higher risks of certain diseases.
Probiotics, which literally means “for life” is a term that has been made to describe the health-boosting bacteria that has been proven to promote health in humans. Fortunately, fermented foods are the primary source of this naturally occurring probiotic goodness and is a delicious solution for replacing some of the lost friendly bugs our guts have been missing. You may have noticed fermented foods have been getting a lot of attention lately, but the truth is they are not new. Historically, they were a popular component in the diets of various cultures around the world. Not only are fermented foods full of beneficial bacteria, they also contain many vitamins, digestive enzymes and omega-3 fatty acids. Some of the naturally fermented foods we love are kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir milk/water, kombucha, miso, and coconut yogurt, which can be incorporated into your diet and used to complement virtually every meal. Add some kimchi on top of your curry, mix sauerkraut through your salads and drink kombucha like it was lemonade.
4. Animal Products
Eating healthy food goes much further than just filling our stomachs and nourishing our bodies. It can, with a little thought and action, create the positive change in the food system that the environment so desperately needs. Start with substituting your usual animal products for more environmentally friendly ones.
Shop for safer, more sustainable fish that are lower in environmental toxins. Certain fish are high in healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids which are an essential nutrient for our bodies; but there is also pollution spilling into our oceans and contaminating our fish products. One to be aware of is mercury, which if eaten in high levels can be harmful, especially for children and pregnant women. Avoid eating some of the larger fish varieties that are higher in mercury such as shark, swordfish or king mackerel and opt for the smaller varieties such as salmon, pollock and catfish. Overfishing is also a major problemwith much of the world’s fish stocks being overexploited. Check that the fish you are buying isn’t an endangered one and look for a sustainable seafood certification when purchasing. We recommend purchasing fish species from sustainable fisheries.
Purchase local, sustainable, grass-fed meat and dairy products. Buy locally sourced animals products, saving on the millions of food miles and greenhouse gas emissions it often takes to ship one animal to the food processor and then to a consumer often on the opposite side of the world. Look for meat that has been fed food that doesn’t harm the planet; ideally you want grass-fed animals not grain-fed. Studies are even showing a difference in the nutritional qualities between the two, suggesting that cattle raised on grass-fed diets can have a notably better fatty acid composition and antioxidant content compared to those raised on grain-fed diets.You can find these products at the local farmers’ markets, organic grocers and some supermarkets, or simply speak to your butcher and ask them about the meat they have available. Yes, we know these animal products are usually more expensive, but if you practice cutting down on how much meat you actually eat and utilize every cut, you can make the product go further and save money on excess animal products that we nutritionally don’t even need.
5. Organic Red Wine
Let’s face it, for most people the idea of never drinking again is kind of like watching back-to-back scary movies all alone. The bottom line is we all know that alcohol isn’t the healthiest thing in our diets, but most of us drink it regardless of its negative impacts on our health. That’s why we recommend choosing a healthier option like organic red wine., This age-old drink also has some of its own potential health benefits that are great conversation starters at parties. We suggest red wine because studies have shown that it is more protective than white wine and beer, plus studies have also linked drinking red wine in moderation with different health benefits. This is mostly due to its antioxidant properties which help protect the body from oxidative damage (also known as aging) and have been linked to reduced inflammation and lower risks of heart disease and cancer.
All of this does sound great but don’t forget that your standard wine, regardless of its hefty price tag or how long it has been aged, has been made from pesticide-laden grapes which can have nasty health effects. This is why we recommend drinking the organic varieties that are free from toxic chemicals. Keep in mind that organic wine, just like other wines and most other processed drinks, can also contain preservatives and additives like the villain ‘sulfite’, which if you have asthma or are one of the many people who are sensitive to these bad boys may cause an extra heavy headache the next morning, or even rashes and breathing problems. This is why you need to look for wine that has also had minimal intervention, avoiding all the extra ingredients. Follow these steps, and you can assuredly drink the healthiest wine around. So finally you can raise your glasses to something extra tasty and say “CHEERS” to red wine!