You are concerned about calories, trans fat and refined sugar, yet most convenient packaged foods, unfortunately, fall into these categories. What can you do?
There is hope. If you look carefully, you will find some healthy packaged delights at your grocery store. We are happy to share our great finds!
Packaged Goodies Show Down
1. LightLife’s Meatless Goodies
You don’t have to be a vegetarian to love LightLife goodies! Their products are low in fat, calories, and are cholesterol-free. For instance, their meatless hot dogs (made with healthy soy protein) contain a mere 45 fat-free calories per serving. What’s more impressive is that, compared to regular dogs, LightLife’s dogs provide significantly less sodium and is nitrate-free. Not only does LightLife offer the traditional meatless alternatives such as burgers and bacon, they also carry a variety of meatless convenient snacks as well as on-the-go meals. Our favorite pick is their Smart Chili on-the-go. This tasty, fat-free hot chili delivers only 210 calories while containing an impressive 10 grams of fiber, making it a healthy lunch choice to pack for work.
2. Hunt’s Canned Tomatoes
Are canned foods inferior? Not necessarily, and certainly not in the case of the tomato. Research shows that lycopene, a potent prostate-health-friendly antioxidant, is better absorbed by the body when tomatoes are processed. It is due to the fact that lycopene is bound to tomato’s cell structure. Food processing facilitates the release of lycopene. Tomato pasta sauce, for instance, has seven times more lycopene than a raw tomato. What a great pantry item!
3. Quaker Instant Oatmeal
The 2005 Dietary Guidelines of America recommends eating at least three servings of whole grains per day. Breakfast is the perfect time to eat your whole grains! Our favorite pick is the regular version of Quaker Instant Oatmeal. Adding low-fat milk and cut-up fruits into your oatmeal will make a wholesome breakfast to start your day. Alternately, whole-grain breakfast cereal is also a good option.
4. Stonyfield All Natural Organic Fat-free Yogurt
Stonyfield All Natural Organic Fat-free Yogurt delivers all the goodness of dairy products without any fat, cholesterol, artificial sweeteners, growth hormones and preservatives. What’s more amazing is that each of these yogurt cups also offers 2 grams of fiber per serving as well as 6 unique blends of active live culture. A great snack to be eaten on its own or used as a dip.
5. Right Direction Chocolate Chip Cookies
Who says you can’t have your chocolate chip cookies and eat them, too? Each of these high fiber cookies provides a high level of soluble fiber and plant sterols, both of which have been shown to reduce the bad LDL cholesterol. Indeed, a small scientific study conducted by the University of Connecticut backed their health claims. Researchers found that the LDL cholesterol levels of participants from the RD chocolate chip cookie group were lowered by 10 percent. That’s impressive.
Here are a few other honorable mentions
Milk is nutritious, period. It provides a good source of calcium, protein and other beneficial nutrients such as Vitamin D and potassium. However, saturated fat (a type of bad fats) is naturally present in all dairy products.
But now, there’s a way to have the goodness of milk without the saturated fat. A Californian dairy company, SunMilk, has patented a technology that replaces the bad saturated fat with good monounsaturated fats, making their milk truly heart-healthy. By using milk from cows that have never been treated with bovine growth hormone (rBGH), SunMilk addresses parents’ common demand for hormone-free dairy products. What’s even better is that the saturated fat removal process leaves SunMilk with more protein and calcium than conventional milk.
Nature’s Path Organic SmartBran cereal
A simple breakfast cereal with high fiber (more than 10g) and low sugar (less than 5g) is hard to find these days. We found Fiber One and SmartBran. We prefer SmartBran because it’s not only organic, it also provides both heart-healthy soluble fiber from psyllium husk and insoluble fiber from bran. SmartBran cereal is surprisingly crunchy, so you can use it for lots more than just breakfast cereal. Instead of using graham crackers when making pie crusts, try using SmartBran. Or, include them as part of a heart-healthy trail mix.
Stonyfield 2-a-Day yogurt
Stonyfield All Natural 2-a-Day Organic yogurt delivers all the goodness of dairy products without any fat, cholesterol, artificial sweeteners, growth hormones, or preservatives. What’s more amazing is that each of these yogurt cups also offers high level of calcium (500 mg), 3 grams of fiber per serving, and 6 unique blends of active live culture. Not too many yogurt products are fortified with Vitamin D, so we are delighted that 2-a-Day does not cheap out on this cancer-protecting vitamin. What a great snack to be eaten on its own or used as a dip!
Minute Maid Heart Wise orange juice
An orange juice that can lower cholesterol? Minute Maid’s new HeartWise orange juice is fortified with plant sterols, an ingredient approved by the FDA for its cholesterol-lowering function. A study published in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology showed that people who drank 2 servings of HeartWise orange juice daily for 8 weeks had their LDL cholesterol reduced by more than 12 percent. That’s impressive!
Corazonas Tortilla Chip
This year must be the year of plant sterol fortification! One serving of Corazonas Tortilla Chips is fortified with 0.4 g of cholesterol-lowering plant sterols. Similar to the HeartWise orange juice, two servings a day may lower LDL cholesterol. In addition, these tasty trans-fat free chips are made with whole oats and are low in sodium. Your best bet is to get their 2-oz bag so that you won’t over-eat these heart-healthy chips!
Gloria Tsang is the author of 5 books and the founder of HealthCastle.com, the largest online nutrition network run by registered dietitians. Her work has appeared in major national publications, and she is a regularly featured nutrition expert for media outlets across the country. The Huffington Post named her one of its Top 20 Nutrition Experts on Twitter. Gloria’s articles have appeared on various media such as Reuters, NBC & ABC affiliates, The Chicago Sun-Times, Reader’s Digest Canada, iVillage and USA Today.