Choices Count for Health

If you find it difficult to make one big iron-clad promise for the New Year, consider making simple choices that count. Here are some basic healthy choices to keep in mind.

Happy New Year and welcome to 2012!

Don’t worry, I’m not going to bring up the R word…you know the one.

Instead I’d like to keep it Real. One thing I’ve discovered while talking to colleagues and friends alike is that being healthy can mean wildly different things to different people.

To some it can mean nixing the usual fries with their burger. To others it can mean blending a fruit and veggie smoothie instead of a milkshake or choosing grilled fish over steak. Sprinkling a bit of flavorful cheese instead of smothering with cheese. Get my drift? If you find it difficult to make one big iron-clad promise (though if you do, more power to you!), consider making simple choices that count. 

Here are some basic healthy choices to keep in mind as you shop for food and prepare meals:

  • At each meal, eat mostly vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes.

  • Avoid highly processed, refined foods.

  • Get healthy fats from nuts, seeds and avocados rather than refined oils.

  • Satisfy a sweet tooth with fresh and dried fruits.

  • Learn healthy cooking methods, such as blanching, marinating, grilling, poaching and steam frying.

  • Eat well without spending all day in the kitchen — keep pre-cut vegetables or fruit in the fridge (don’t forget that you can buy them already cut in our produce department!), frozen veggies in the freezer and beans and whole grains in the pantry.

  • Look for the Health Starts Here® logo to find healthy prepared foods and bakery options in our stores.

Another way to improve your diet is to pack in more nutrients wherever you can.  ANDI scores (Aggregate Nutrient Density Index) measure nutrient density — how many nutrients you get for each calorie — so you can use ANDI scores to help:

  • Eat more foods like leafy greens, colorful vegetables and fruits that have higher ANDI scores, indicating lots of nutrients and relatively few calories.

  • Avoid foods like refined grains and oils, sweets and processed foods that have low ANDI scores, meaning little or no nutrients and a relatively higher amount of calories.

Here are the top 10 ANDI vegetables (that is, the most nutrient-dense vegetables) with suggestions on how to enjoy them:

  • Collards - steam and use like tortillas for wraps

  • Kale - sauté with garlic, onions and a bit of broth

  • Watercress - add to sandwiches for a mild, peppery bite

  • Bok Choy - steam with garlic, ginger and a splash of rice vinegar

  • Spinach - blend into a smoothie for a nutritional boost

  • Broccoli Rabe - sauté and stir into cooked whole-grain pasta

  • Napa Cabbage - shred into slaws and salads

  • Brussels Sprouts - cut in half and pan roast

  • Swiss Chard - slice thinly and stir into soups

  • Arugula - add a little or a lot to spice up salads

You can find more healthy eating tips, menu plans and recipes here opens in a new tab.

Do you enjoy some of the top 10 ANDI vegetables? If so, share your favorite ways with us in the comments!

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