Some people think I have someone do my grocery shopping for me, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Even my wife Jan (who knows my guidelines) gets the same instructions repeated before she selects foods for our kitchen, and the same predictable quiz when I come through to check her choices.
Lest I sound demanding, I must confess that I love grocery shopping—truly I do! Here's a picture of me picking out produce at our local market.
But as a cardiologist, I’m also very concerned that grocery stores are filled with foods that are anything but heart healthy. In fact, more than once I’ve stood in the check-out line, only to notice a grocery card filled with heart health hazards. So, I thought I would share my top tips for making sure your grocery cart improves your health.
1. Eat before you shop. If you shop when you’re hungry, you may make less healthy choices and/or buy too much.
2. Shop the outside aisles of the market first. That’s usually were the fresh produce and refrigerator cases are.
3. Select fresh, organically grown fruits and vegetables as much as possible.
4. For dairy selections, look for organic and low fat on the packaging, and select cage-free eggs, too.
5. When buying meats and poultry, look on the package for those that are grass fed, free range, and/or “natural.” You also want to avoid meats marbled with fat. Also don’t be afraid to ask the butcher to trim the visible fat from around the outside of your meat—it weighs less, too, when you pay by the pound.
6. At the fish counter, avoid farm raised and large fish that have more mercury. Local and fresh caught are my choices.
7. Check the expiration dates on everything you buy. Fresh foods that don’t contain chemical preservatives have a shorter shelf life, so get the latest expiration date you can find.
8. Read labels. If you need a PhD to read the label, it means the product is loaded with chemicals and preservatives, which isn’t good. You also want to avoid products that contain sugars (any ingredient that ends in “ose” is a sugar), and especially high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).
9. Fresh is always best, even when it comes to herbs and spices.