It was like an elementary school field trip, but for adults. On March 9, Cornerstone Family Healthcare partnered with ShopRite of Vails Gate to provide a heart healthy tour of the supermarket.
Ashley Shaw, registered dietician for ShopRite, led the tour for about a dozen participants, taking them up and down aisles containing foods that would help guide them toward a healthier lifestyle. The focus was on items with low sodium with discussions about cholesterol and the difference between good and bad fats.
One of the best places to start, said Shaw, was the seafood department.
“All foods can fit into a healthy diet,” she said. “You don’t have to eat fish everyday. You don’t even have to eat meat if you’re a vegetarian. There are a lot of different ways you can make a healthy diet work for you, but fish is a really great element to add to a diet to make it heart healthy.”
Some of the fattier fish, like salmon, are filled with fatty acids, such as omega-3, which is good for a heart healthy diet. White, mild fishes are high in protein and contain low fat and cholesterol. Tilapia, for example, can be prepared with tacos or drizzled with lemon juice. Those fishes can be poached or even baked. Shaw suggested adding seafood to a diet at least twice a week.
The next stop was the produce department with a focus on fiber. Fruits such as berries, citruses, and stone fruits like apples and pears are low in sugar and high in fiber. In terms of vegetables almost all are healthy, but those without starch are preferred. Potatoes, corn, peas, and squashes should be consumed in moderation while all others should be eaten as much as possible.
“Don’t be afraid of fruits and veggies,” Shaw said. “They’re really good for you and you can build a great meal around them.”
Some vegetables can be used as substitutes for pastas which are high in starch. Zucchini can be spiralized to replace spaghetti. Crumbled cauliflower can be boiled instead of rice.
For those who have time to sit down for breakfast, cereals high in fiber and containing whole grains as the main ingredient are preferred. Consumers should read the list of ingredients on the box to make sure a grain is listed first. Some cereals contain sugar, but those low in sugar are the better option. If one must have sugar, it’s better to portion it at home.
Another option is buying plain oatmeal and adding dry or fresh fruit to satisfy a sweet tooth.
When buying bread it’s important to know how it will be used, as a sandwich or as toast, and how many slices will be used. Most breads are one or two slices per serving, so if a lot of bread is consumed, buying a package with two slices per serving is preferred to reduce the intake of carbohydrates. Like cereal, whole grains should be the main ingredient.
When it comes to milk, non-dairy items can be just as healthy as the dairy products. Milk is a good source of vitamin D, calcium, and protein. Lower fat options are better than those with more saturated fat. Non-dairy milk, coming from a plant source, contain unsaturated fat, which is a healthy.
Items high in protein and fiber include whole grains such as rice, couscous, quinoa, farro, and beans. Whole grains can be prepared just like any grain. They can be served as a side or mixed in with a salad.
Depsite being a source of fat and cholesterol, eggs are a great source of nutrition for the protein they contain. One egg a day is recommended.
Even when it comes to snacking, there are healthy options. Nuts and seeds are high in protein and fiber. They should be purchased with low or no salt, keeping the recommended serving size in mind. Popcorn, when not covered with butter, is a whole grain and can satisfy any hunger pains.
The tour ended with a cooking demonstration and snack. Shaw mixed no-salt cottage cheese with salsa and served the dip with whole grain chips.
As a potential meal, Shaw took cans of tuna (in water) and mixed it with avocado, instead of mayonnaise. The tuna salad was served in a whole wheat pita.