●Look for low daily value percentages (5 percent or less) of total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium.●
●The following terms signal added sugars, which contain lots of calories but little nutrition value: corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, fruit juice concentrate, maltose, dextrose, sucrose, honey and maple syrup.
“There is a huge continuum of processed foods,” Weaver says. “It’s not so easy to categorize processed foods as good or bad. We just have to be smart about it, a little more sophisticated.”
All processed foods are not created equal
Here’s my roundup of foods that, though processed and packaged, pack a nutritional wallop. Bonus: Most are pretty easy on the wallet.
Yogurt: The process that makes yogurt yogurt is probably also what makes it so good for you. In addition to the calcium and protein, vitamins and minerals yogurt delivers, the active bacteria cultures that give it its tangy taste are probiotics that are thought to provide digestive health benefits.
Beans are an excellent source of protein (especially for those who don’t eat meat) and fiber. Sure, you can buy, dry and soak them (thereby processing them yourself). But you can’t beat the convenience of canned. Look for reduced-sodium brands, or drain and rinse your beans before eating.
Jarred spaghetti sauce: The process of cooking actually improves the quality of the antioxidant carotenoids that give tomatoes their color, making jarred sauce a healthful choice. Weaver points out that such sauces usually are seasoned with herbs, which add vitamins and minerals such as potassium.
Oatmeal: Steel-cut or simply rolled, processed oats are excellent sources of dietary fiber and can help lower your cholesterol.
Canned salmon: We’re all supposed to be eating more fish — at least two four-ounce servings a week, according to federal dietary guidelines — and fatty, cold-water fish such as salmon and tuna are tops because of the omega-3 fatty acids they contain. But buying fresh fish can get expensive. Canned varieties provide the same nutrition.
Peanut butter: Another great source of protein and heart-healthy fats, this tasty, versatile spread is best when made simply with finely ground peanuts.
Frozen vegetables: Vegetables harvested at their peak and immediately frozen retain all their nutritional value, allowing us to enjoy vegetables’ benefits year round. They’re often less expensive than fresh produce, too.
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