Packaged foods are convenient, but they can also be chock-full of nasty stuff like preservatives and unpronounceable ingredients. So how can you be sure a particular packaged food is good for you? One thing to look for is a short ingredient list, as we detail in 10 Secrets for Healthier Grocery Shopping. Since the supermarket can be overwhelming, we created a list of recommended products to look out for:
Daisy Sour Cream: The holy grail of packaged foods: one ingredient – grade A cultured cream.
Quaker Oatmeal: It takes five minute to cook and all it contains is oats. Skip the instant.
Ghirardelli Unsweetened Cocoa: This product has one ingredient. You guessed it: cocoa. The smooth powder dissolves easily in hot water. Add some sugar and a little cream or milk and you have a delicious instant cocoa, no mono and diglycerides required.
Martinelli Apple Juice: 100 percent apple juice. Do you need anything else?
Florida’s Natural, Simply Orange, and Tropicana Pure Premium 100 percent, vitamin c-packed orange juice. Get your other vitamins from your food, or take a multi-vitamin.
100 % Maple Syrup: Never, ever get the stuff that is not 100 percent maple syrup. It is all flavored corn syrup, or worse.
Red Wine, White Wine, and Cider Vinegar: Most vinegars are fine, but watch out for balsamic, which can contain sulfites that some people are sensitive to. Skip seasoned vinegars and anything with sulfur dioxide.
Arrowhead Mills Peanut Butter and Other Natural Nut Butters: Natural peanut butters are now easy to find in supermarkets. Most skip the sugar and anything unpronounceable.
What should be a one ingredient food? Most frozen vegetables: Add your own choice of sauce. Check the label because some companies sneak in preservatives, salt, and more. You will pay extra money for frozen vegetables with sauce; we consider them the #1 food you should never buy again.
Smucker’s Natural Peanut Butter: Smucker’s is in nearly every supermarket and is a good alternative to single ingredient peanut butter. All that’s been added is salt.
Planter’s Harvest Almonds: Two ingredients: almonds and sea salt. Stop buying nuts roasted in other oils. The natural oil is what you want.
Dannon Plain Yogurt (regular or non-fat): Cultured grade A milk and active yogurt cultures, including L. acidophilus, are you’ll find in Dannon Plain Yogurt. Add your own fruit for flavor. Other yogurts can be a smorgasbord of ingredients.
Fage and Chobani Yogurt: Many Greek-style yogurts strive to be on the all-natural bandwagon, but check the label to be sure all that’s in it is milk and cultures.
Ortega Black Beans: Skip other beans that contain preservatives and excess sodium. Ortega’s is just beans, water, and salt.
Snyder’s of Hanover Tortilla Chips: Just enriched corn, canola oil and salt. Skip the MSG-laden flavors and get some all-natural salsa to dip your chips in, or whip up some guacamole.
Kettle Chips Lightly Salted and Cape Cod Original and 40 Percent Reduced Fat Potato Chips: Potatoes, oil, and salt. As far as chips go these are some of the most tasty as well.
El Rancho Corn Tortillas Corn masa, water, and lime. Yup, it’s that easy to make a tortilla. Most flour tortillas will have extra ingredients you don’t need to eat. Check the labels.
Lara Bars: Banana Bread, Pecan Pie, and Cashew Cookie all contain three ingredients or less, but even the company’s other flavors contain natural and pronounceable ingredients. Eat these in place of cookies.
Daisy Cottage Cheese: Just three ingredients: cultured skim milk, cream, and salt. Other leading brands add carbon dioxide to preserve freshness, plus other preservatives. Daisy’s low-fat cottage cheese has added Vitamin A, while many others are filled with gum and other additives.
A FEW MORE INGREDIENTS
The Baker Pita, Whole Wheat: This simple pita contains stone ground whole wheat flour, water, salt, and yeast.
Gulden’s Spicy Brown Mustard: Made with vinegar, mustard seed, salt, spices, and turmeric. Mustard has fewer funky ingredients than most ketchups and mayonnaises.
Haagen Dazs Vanilla Ice Cream: None of these ingredients are scary—unless you’re watching fat and sugar: cream, skim milk, sugar, egg yolks, natural vanilla.
SEVEN-PLUS INGREDIENTS (but still a good choice)
Kozy Shack Original Rice Pudding: Contains milk, rice, sugar, eggs, natural vanilla flavor, with other natural flavors, and salt. This is a simple and delicious dessert.
Newman’s Own Oil and Vinegar Salad Dressing: Olive oil, vegetable oil (soybean oil, canola oil), water, red wine vinegar, onion, spices, salt, garlic, lemon juice, distilled vinegar. Most dressings contain some kind of stabilizer, this is all natural and the next best thing to mixing up you own vinaigrette.