The health food industry has taken the world by storm the last decade, specifically the last five years. Each year, we’re exposed to more organic, plant-based, along with gluten-free, non-GMO, no added sugar, and cholesterol-free foods on the market. This is a great thing in the midst of a society that’s filled with mixed messages from the traditional food industry who throws advertisements for highly processed foods our way only loaded with refined sugars and grains, overly processed fats, artificial flavors and sweeteners, and yet also sends us messages that we should be eating calorie-free diet foods at the same time.
For anyone wanting to eat healthy, things can get confusing pretty quickly with so many options out there, and with mixed messages we’re given. So next time you visit the store, avoid the overly processed cereals and bars, and pick try some other options instead. We’ve rounded up 10 products that make convenient choices and are economical per serving while also being beneficial to your health.
Whether bought in bags in the aisle, or in the bulk bin, plain, raw seeds such as flax, hemp, chia, sunflower, pumpkin, and sesame seeds are some of the healthiest, most natural foods you can eat and buy. They add protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals to your day all in just a few tablespoons without the need for cooking at all. Even pseudograins like quinoa, millet, teff, and amaranth should be eaten if you enjoy them since they are also technically seeds, only with slightly more carbohydrates. Seeds are often more nutritional than nuts and also less expensive per serving. They prevent inflammation, heart disease, and can help satisfy your appetite and regulate your blood sugar. Keep these on hand for convenient sources of nutrients, and add little bits of them everywhere you can.
2. Organic, Fair-Trade Coffee
Organic coffee is one of the best sources of antioxidants one can consume each day. While coffee was once seen as something to avoid, more research consistently comes out that proves differently. Coffee has been linked to protecting the body from liver disease, melanoma, Alzheimer’s and dementia, Type 2 diabetes, depression, and is a much better energy booster than energy drinks loaded with caffeine and sugar. So why organic coffee? Because coffee is one of the most heavily sprayed crops and most types are laden with pesticides if not bought in organic form. Many brands may produce coffee in an organic fashion without pesticides, though they may not have official certification. Check with your favorite roaster to see if they do use pesticides, and if so, try a few organic brands on the market. With more research proving how much damage chemicals sprayed on our foods can cause, there’s really no reason to be consuming these through our cuppa joe each day. Aside from organic, however, you should especially focus on buying Fair-Trade coffee because it’s less expensive, free of harmful pesticides and ingredients, and is more sustainable because it benefits those who grow the coffee and the land in which the coffee is produced; call it karma in a cup!
3. Truly Natural Nut Butters
Natural nut butters are filling sources of protein and contain no scary chemicals, refined sugars, or harmful oils. But don’t just pick up any brand that touts the “natural” label. Many of those are nothing more than falsely advertised junk food. Instead, choose a plain nut butter (raw is best, but plain roasted is fine too) that doesn’t have added oils or sugars. Many bulk sections in markets today even have options where you can grind your own if you like. Not only are these cheaper, but you also don’t have to stir the oils back into the nut butter once you purchase them either. Nut butters are a great staple to keep on hand when they’re healthy, so see our tips how to choose the best ones here if you need more purchasing tips.
4. Plant-Based Milks
We’ve come a long way since only having soy milk as our top plant-based milk option. From coconut to hemp, flax, almond, cashew, and even rice, oat, walnut, and macadamia milks, there’s a plant-based milk out there for everyone! Be sure you choose options without added fillers, sweeteners, and stabilizers, and go with milks that have five ingredients or less if you can. These milks are the perfect creamy replacement to non-dairy milk, many even boasting twice the amount of calcium as cow’s milk.
5. Organic Frozen Berries
The freezer aisle can be your best friend if you’re trying to eat healthy and do it on a budge and when you’re short on time. One item that makes a smart staple for everyone to keep in the kitchen is organic frozen berries. No mater what kind you buy, they’re all fantastic sources of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. And, you never have to worry about them spoiling on you, and they can be used in just a flash! You can buy the omega-3 rich frozen acai packs for smoothies and acai bowls, or you can buy the traditional frozen berry mixes or plain bags of berries. Berries protect and enhance the brain, heart, digestive tract, lungs, and just about every part of your body. They can also enhance the skin and even help protect from certain types of cancers. From smoothies to breakfast, snacks, and healthy desserts, there’s a way to add them anywhere you can!
6. Coconut Flour, Shreds, Butter, and/or Oil
Coconut is not just a trendy food; it’s a top brain-boosting food we can all afford and should be eating. Coconut flour is low in fat, an excellent source of protein and fiber, and is a lower carbohydrate alternative excellent for those with diabetes, blood sugar problems, or digestive problems. Coconut butter is a delicious replacement to butter and makes a great baking option or nut butter alternative. The shreds can be used in place of flour, offer the same benefits as coconut meat, butter, and flour, and the oil can be used to coat your pans when making stir-fries, muffins, pancakes, or waffles. And, of course, you can also use the oil in your beauty regimen as an all natural lifestyle product.
7. Teas, Herbs,and Spices
Teas, like coffee, are incredible sources of antioxidants. Choose between black, green, white, and even more exotic tea blends, or simply choose herbal teas that are caffeine-free, yet still amazing sources of antioxidants. Keep a variety on hand and enjoy them as much as you please. Herbs and spices are also top source of antioxidants, and make fantastic ways to add salt-free flavor and anti-inflammatory nutrients to your diet.
8. A Raw, Organic Greens Powder
While fresh foods are always best, an organic and raw greens powder is a great staple to keep on hand. You can add these to smoothies, use them for travel when fresh greens aren’t available, and stir them into just about anything. Some even come with superfoods added like cacao, goji, maca, and acai. While they might seem a bit pricey, most contain more nutrients from real foods than multivitamins we take, and are often very economical per serving. Keep them on hand for when your immune system, digestive system, and energy levels need a boost. They’re fantastic options for easy, on-the-go nutrition that put all those processed bars and supplements on the markets to shame!
9. Certain Condiments
Many condiments like hot sauce, mustard, hummus, salsa, and vinegars are some of the best products you can keep for seasoning your foods with. They add not only flair and zest to your meals, but most brands are also very healthy for you. Mustard is one of the best lower calories, all natural sources of antioxidants, and has even been linked to reducing blood sugar and enhancing the metabolism. Hot sauce is consistently linked to a boost of energy, less sugary cravings, and a faster metabolism too. Salsa and vinegars (apple cider vinegar, red wine, balsamic with no added sugars, and coconut vinegar) come with the same benefits and are as close to natural as you can get through a condiment. And hummus adds protein, fiber, B vitamins, and magnesium. If you can buy organic and non-GMO, please do, but if not, then feel free to just buy those with minimal ingredients with no chemicals included.
10. Non-GMO Plant-Based Protein Powders
The plant-based protein powder industry has taken off in skyrocketing amounts the last year. While some of these are as far away from healthy as you can imagine, many are actually excellent ways to get protein into your diet without having to cook up beans or grains, or eat a ton of nuts and seeds (which can all be harder to digest or time-consuming). Plant-based protein or nutritional powders allow you to add in protein to your morning smoothie or even a bowl of oatmeal. Be sure you choose options that are non-GMO, contain no funny additives or ingredients, are free of added sugars, and more importantly, that you enjoy eating! Brown rice proteins are less flavorful and a little more chalky, though still protein-rich and normally easy to digest, while hemp and pea proteins are more fluffy, nutty, and somewhat more filling. New protein products are now being made with blends from grain-free options like flax, sacha inchi, pumpkin seed, and even cranberry seed protein powder. Explore some of these options, pick one free of added sugars or artificial sweeteners, and stick to budget-friendly options like hemp and pea if you’re watching every penny.
Don’t Forget These Food Either …
Anyone wanting to eat healthy should focus on fresh, green leafy vegetables, all types of vegetables and a variety of fresh fruit. foods. Beans, legumes, and/or whole grains can also be eaten for more protein, fiber, and minerals. These foods make up the foundation of any healthy diet, though some of the products above can add a health boost and help us live in the real world where we need convenient, healthy options that also fit into our busy lives and schedules.
What’s your favorite healthy food product to help you eat healthier?
Lead Image Source: Hemp Seeds: Ways to Use This Protein Powerhouse in Ways You Never Dreamed / Heather McClees