Choosing products based on their nutritional value and knowing when to shop and what to shop for contributes to a better diet.
Medical advisors: Aileth Ninska de la Hoz Escorcia – Nutritionist and Dietitian
Coomeva Private Healthcare practitioner
Sandro Gómez Maquet – Nutritionist
When you leave work tired and hungry, it is likely that you have thought about going by the supermarket to pick up what you need for dinner. However, you might end up with cookies instead of lettuce for a salad. According to a study published in the Neurolmage journal, avoiding overeating is a challenge because our society is exposed to food everywhere, from vending machines to advertisements and the supermarket. Specialists emphasize the importance of learning to choose what you are buying and take advantage of quality products. How do you make sure that the food in your shopping cart is really the best option?
Sandro Gómez Maquet, specialist in Clinical Nutrition from the UNAM in Mexico, recommends consuming natural foods that haven’t been chemically processed. “When it comes to nutrition, there is no mystery. Different relevant scientific societies suggest avoiding ultra-processed foods, which can contain preservatives and be exposed to chemical processing that can affect your health. The current concern regarding these foods is their correlation with being overweight, obesity, and all chronic, non-transmittable illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes.”
For this same reason, Aileth Ninska de la Hoz Escorcia, nutritionist and dietitian with an MSc in Clinical and Sports Nutrition, recommends “adopting functional nutrition that, in addition to satisfying your hunger, guarantees you eat food that will improve your health.” Among these foods are oatmeal, known to lower cholesterol, and nuts, seeds, and natural cereal, which are rich in protein and antioxidants.
De la Hoz proposes “starting your shopping with non-perishable items and leaving the refrigerated and frozen products for last”. That way, you’ll start by selecting starchy items or carbohydrates that, according to the specialist, are staples in the local diet. Try to choose products that are not packaged, as packaged products generally contain some type of artificial preservatives.
Then, move to the fruit and vegetable section, and choose natural, unprocessed fruit and vegetables. Buy portions that can be consumed in the lapse of one week in order to guarantee freshness, or buy fruit and vegetables that have thick skin so they last longer.
In the refrigerated meat section, it is best to buy lean or low-fat meat, chicken, or pork, and avoid sausages or deli meats, which could have harmful preservatives, sodium, and fat. If you consume dairy, choose products that are fresh, like bags of milk, instead of processed or longer-lasting products.
Including eggs and some fish in your shopping cart is also recommended for your cardiovascular health. When using oils, make sure they are ‘pure,’ such as olive or soy, and not mixed with other oils. Sandro Gómez explains that, regarding butter and margarine, “it isn’t what you eat, it’s how much you eat. Margarine claims that it does not contain saturated fat, as it is a vegetable-based product, but for it to be a solid, it has to be hydrogenated, which saturates the margarine and turns it into a trans-fat. So, a preference for butter is not a problem”.
For condiments such as sugar, the nutritionist suggests “avoiding the use of artificial sweeteners that can cause problems with intestinal microbiota, and instead using panela, honey, or unbleached sugar in moderation”.
It is always best to substitute foods such as sauces and processed snacks for homemade versions, in addition to buying local. Buy food that is from the geographic zone where you live, which in addition to encouraging local farmers that plant, produce, and sell the food, it guarantees better nutrition and freshness.
Read the labels
Nutritionist Aileth Ninska de la Hoz Escorcia states that “it is best to avoid canned and packaged products. However, if you decide to consume them, you must check that they don’t have huge quantities of sugar, salt, or preservatives”. Make sure that:
- The content of saturated fat is as close to zero as possible.
- The quantity of sugar is less than 5 to 7 grams.
- The amount of sodium does not exceed 6 grams per serving.
- Choose carbohydrates withmore than 3 grams of fiber.