Many of us don’t have a lot of time to do food shopping. With our other responsibilities and our crammed schedules, we don’t usually have the time to research our food well before we buy, and our very shopping trips may feel rushed. If that describes you, there is an easy way to make sure that your shopping cart has the foods you need to stay heart healthy:
1) Have as much food in there as you think you will need until your next shopping – do not buy more or you may end up overeating.
2) Most of your cart should include fresh fruits and vegetables (this will include fresh herbs). Yes, you read that right. If you make most of your diet fresh fruits and vegetables, you will enjoy lower cholesterol.
3) You should have less (significantly less) grains than vegetables and fruits. These should be simple (not prepared or pre-seasoned or flavored) and whole grain where possible. Check the labels on your breads and baked products, at least, to make sure that you are getting as little fat and sodium in these products as possible. Favor grains like oat and barley over white breads.
Avoid bakery products like cookies and sweets entirely or buy very, very few (one cookie instead of a package, and check that one cookie that has no trans or saturated fats). Include at least some nuts (unsalted, unflavored, not roasted).
4) Check to make sure that you have significantly less meats and animal proteins than you have grains. Those meats you have should be lean where possible. Choose fish, shellfish, and poultry over other meats and choose the leanest cuts of meat you can. Buy less meat than you usually buy and buy it as plain as possible (avoid seasoned, precooked, prepared, or processed meats such as sausages).
5) You should have very little fats at all, and those should be healthy. Choose extra virgin olive oil and refuse to buy hydrogenated oils, palm oils, or any oils high in saturated or trans fats (read the labels).
6) Try to eliminate as many packaged foods as you can. Anything that has been cooked, processed and prepared for you ahead of time or contains flavorings or seasonings should be given a second look. These packages are usually quite easy to find in your shopping cart – they are usually bright colors and contain logos and brand names. These should form the smallest portion of your shopping cart. Your cholesterol will fall even more quickly if you eliminate them entirely. At the very least, read the levels of these products to choose the products with the lowest sodium and fat levels possible.
Checking your shopping cart takes only a few minutes and following only these six simple steps will put you much further along towards lowering your cholesterol.