Q: What is a good rule of thumb when purchasing healthy food? The fewer ingredients, the better?
A: Absolutely right! When it comes to making wise nutrition choices, the golden rule on the ingredient list is “less is better!” This is because the most nutritious foods are generally the least processed foods with the least amount of additives. The closer the food is to the way Mother Nature intended it to be, the more natural vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytonutrients the food product will contain.
For example, it’s always healthier to choose an apple over a slice of apple pie loaded with unhealthy fats, salt, spoilage retardants, refined carbohydrates and excess calories. If you peruse the frozen vegetable case, better to grab the bag of frozen peas that simply contains two ingredients—peas and salt—rather than a frozen pea product with 20 ingredients in the list. Another important tip regarding processed foods is that if you have a choice, make the food yourself (such as your own tomato sauce versus a jar of sauce). This way YOU control the ingredients and can be very judicious with adding in excess amounts of harmful ingredients such as sodium and bad fats.