Ask Mira : Eating Right to Live Happy & Healthy

With all the price rises, global warnings and financial crises, shoppers are looking for ways to save money without sacrificing nutrition.

Not every fancy food means it is healthy and provides our body with all the essential nutrients. Sometimes when a food item is expensive, it could mean it is rich in fat, and nitrates that cause different kinds of cancer. So people are in fact spending more money to buy unhealthy ‘extras’ that add calories but are of little nutritional value, such as sodas, bakery items, and chips. This article is intended to help you save money while getting the best and nutritious food.

First, when going to any coop or supermarket, plan ahead and make a list of what you want to buy, and stick to the list; do not indulge in impulse buying. Also, do not go shopping on an empty stomach, as the inclination to purchase unhealthy, ready-to-eat foods increases when you are hungry. Have a light snack before you go out shopping.

On a related note, a study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association,  found that when families went on weight loss diets, they not only lost weight but reduced their food budgets.

The research found that the savings came from reducing portion sizes and from buying fewer of the high-calorie foods that tend to increase the amount spent at the grocery store. The ideal food should be nutrient-dense, not calorie-dense. Nutrient-rich foods include: Grains like lentils, beans and peas: These are among the most versatile and nutritious foods available. Legumes are typically low in fat, contain no cholesterol, and are high in folate, potassium, iron and magnesium. They also contain soluble and insoluble fiber. Because they are a great source of protein, legumes can be a healthy substitute for meat, which has fatter and cholesterol, and surely more expensive.

Fresh seasonal fruits: Save money by skipping calorie-dense cakes and cookies, opt instead for seasonal fruits that are rich in fiber, high in nutrients, sodium- free and fat-free.

Tuna: Tuna is safe, low in mercury and super cheap. There are no excuses not to have it when it is always available. Tuna is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which decrease triglycerides levels. Canned tuna is a great addition to the diet for good proteins and fats without a lot of calories. Note that tuna in water is richer in omega-3 than the one in oil.

Brown rice and multi-cereal bread: Comparing to the other food, brown rice and multi-cereal bread are a smart and cheap food options to choose. They are rich in fiber, and diabetic-friendly, as they are slowly absorbed in the bloodstream. And we all know how important fiber is for digestive health, as well as maintaining a healthy weight.

Studies show that six servings of whole grains weekly can lower the creation of arterial plaque build-up and reduce chances of developing heart disease and high cholesterol levels.

Frozen food: They may be less expensive than fresh, yet are equally nutritious. Fish and poultry are often frozen to minimize freezer damage and retain freshness. With frozen foods, you can use only the amount you need and return the rest to the freezer. If it is properly stored, there is no waste. So, the next time you go out shopping to your local supermarket, cut food costs by choosing only the healthiest foods. And, the good news is that cheap food is not necessarily unhealthy food.



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