Food, Health, Mind Ya Fitness

Going to the grocery store is a beautiful thing. For starters, the food is all there. Imagine coming home from work and having to pick vegetables. That would probably suck. A lot. Picking and choosing which vegetables we like is pretty sweet too. Variety is often taken for granted.  Let’s not forget the nutrition labels that let you know what you’re putting in your body. Knowledge is power. Sometimes . . .

Sometimes convenience, variety, and knowledge open up a door of nagging, voluminous questions. What vegetables are the healthiest? What’s the difference between canned, fresh, and frozen vegetables? Where in the store should I be grabbing my vegetables?

After reading this article you’re going to totally dominate shopping for greens. You’ll be so good that you might just have to put this skill on your resume. So read up on how to shop for green.

3 things you’ll know about green shopping after you’re done reading:

  • Greens that get you the most bang for your health
  • How to navigate the grocery store to get your greens
  • The difference between eating canned, frozen, and fresh vegetables

When you’re wandering through the produce section, there are no vegetables that aren’t going to be good for you. Let’s get that clear. In upcoming articles, I’ll talk with you about other awesome vegetables to incorporate into your diet. For now, we’re going to stick to greens. Besides, I know that you’ve got work to do and I don’t want to take up too much of your time.

Eating vegetables is something that should be incorporated into anyone’s diet. Below are some of the greens that I incorporate into my diet because they’re easy to cook, mix and match, and eat on the go. Most importantly, these guys are nutritional powerhouses.

Greens that get you the most bang for your health:

Kale – Typically, I’m using these for my veggie shakes, I’m not an expert at cooking this guy. If you are that’s awesome. According to Jill Nussinow, MS, RD and author of The Veggie Queen, this plant offers everything you can possibly want in a leafy green. It provides serious vitamins like A, C, and K. In terms of minerals you’re getting a nice helping of calcium, folate, and potassium.

Spinach – Popeye didn’t always eat this guy for no reason. It’s versatile. Put it in your veggie shakes, cook it with your dinner, or throw it in your lunch salad. Plus, it’s got vitamin A and C, folate, and some calcium to boot.

Broccoli – This green can be used in your salads, as a snack, or cooked with dinner. Similar to spinach in nutritional content except that it’s extremely rich in Vitamin C.

Arugula – Something that you can use in your salads, I really don’t use it in anything else. It sure makes a great salad presentation if you’re trying to impress someone. It’s loaded with calcium, Vitamin, A, C, and K.

These aren’t the only greens that you can shop for, or eat for that matter. And greens are loaded with a variety of other minerals like magnesium, manganese, and betaine. Mark Sisson provides a more thorough breakdown of leafy greens and their mineral content in Why You Should Eat Leafy Greens. Check out some of the greens below that are great to eat and provide you with nourishment you need to get you through your day.

  • Chard
  • Collard
  • Mustard greens
  • Turnip greens
  • Iceberg Lettuce
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Baby Greens
  • Parsley
  • Watercress

The benefits of eating green are immense. You’re getting fiber, which is basically Nature’s Broom according to Lyle McDonald. On top of that, vitamins, minerals, and protection from preventable diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. Sounds like a good deal, doesn’t it?

Naturally, you’re probably thinking that this is all great but where am I going to find this stuff? We’re obviously all too busy to be growing green in our backyard. Your best bet is going to your local farmer’s market and the grocery store. But going to the grocery store can be daunting. There are a lot of options and information to take in if you’re really looking to make a conscious effort and get in the groove of eating right and eating green.

How to Navigate the Grocery Store to Get Your Greens:

As a general rule of thumb, every time you go to the grocery store, you want to stick to the ends. By that I mean, go to the produce section and dairy section. There’s also the organic section and inorganic section, which is something I’m going to go over in how to eat veggies cheap. Overall, the produce sections are going to contain food you won’t have to think twice about grabbing and throwing in your cart. It’s tough to jump into eating really healthy if you haven’t been making a habit of it. Take small steps to eating healthier instead of just diving in. I bring this up because there are some sections, which do have greens that you can eat, like the frozen and canned sections.

The difference between eating canned, frozen, and fresh vegetables:

This is where shopping for your greens is going to get complicated. Don’t worry though. We’ll to break it down so that you’ll be able to go in and out of the grocery store, greens in hand, without a second of confusion.

Nutrition Labels – You’ll be able to find nutrition labels on frozen vegetable packages and canned vegetables. You obviously won’t find them on vegetables in the produce section. As long as you are eating greens, don’t worry about the nutrition label. Seriously. Vegetables are low in calories, high in fiber and nutrients. In other words, there’s nothing that is going to be on that nutrition label that you need to worry about. If you have so much time that you are measuring how many vitamins and minerals you’re taking, than grab a multivitamin pill and just grab the greens that you like to eat. This rule applies to all vegetables except for canned vegetables, which brings me to my next point . . .

Canned Vegetables – Convenience is something that we all want in our lives. With good reason too, it makes life easier. Coming home from work and busting open a can of greens and throwing it on the pan would seem like a healthy option. However, I’d urge you not to do so. Canned vegetables have a ton of preservatives and sodium. Now if this is your only option, vegetables are better than no vegetables. And it’s a healthier choice than say, cheese fries. But compared to frozen and fresh, canned should be last on the list.

Frozen Vegetables – You might be urged to check the nutrition label when perusing through the freezers checking out what each bag contains. As long as you don’t have extra ingredients like butter or cheese, than no need to really check. I normally use frozen vegetables as a way to have something if I don’t have the chance to go to the grocery store or run out of food during the week. It’s also something that I can throw on the pan and heat up pretty quickly. This isn’t a bad option to take up. But the next one is MUCH better.

Fresh Vegetables – This is by far the best option to take up. Fresh vegetables are where it’s at. In terms of nutritional value, it’s there. No confusion or wondering what’s inside, just pick and eat. You can either cook, make a salad, or a veggie shake.

Now that you’ve got the 3 tips on how to dominate your green shopping, do it up. Remember, stick to greens that give you the most bang for your health, look through the end sections of the grocery store, and stick with either fresh or frozen. Oh, and eat green.

In the upcoming weeks we’ll wrap up our conversation on vegetables that aren’t green and how they benefit your health. Next week you’ll learn how to eat green on budget, see you then.

By Andrew Kobylarz

Photo Credit, PhotoJonnybbaltimore, I-5 Design & Manufacture, NA.Dir

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