There is a method to your grocery shopping, whether you gather fresh foods first, or start loading your cart with the largest items off your list, or perhaps you work through the grocery store numerically by aisle. Everyone has their own way of gathering all the items on a shopping list.
Why not focus on your health as a strategy for grocery shopping? Especially during the winter months, using an immunity-boosting shopping list is a great way to ensure that the foods you are buying have maximum health benefits for you and your family. What you eat is directly related to your immune system. By selecting specific foods in the grocery store, and planning ahead for certain meals, you can help to build up your family’s immunity against winter colds and flu, starting in your grocery cart!
There is a reason that fresh fruits and vegetables are the first things that greet you when you walk into a grocery store. The produce section is bursting with brightly colored fruits and vegetables, laid out in a feast-like display, for all of your senses to enjoy. By starting your shopping experience at the area of the store with the most healthy and fresh foods, you immediately feel better about what you’re putting into your cart … and into your body!
While some fruits and vegetables are better than others, the most important thing when it comes to your overall health is that you are getting a good variety of fresh foods. One of the best ways to ensure variety is to select a wide range of colors from the produce section. Bright red apples, purple cabbage, green kale, blue berries, white cauliflower, orange peppers … there is a lot to choose from! And don’t just focus on citrus fruits as a source of vitamin C during those winter months. Remember that other foods, such as cauliflower, are a source of vitamin C, or butternut squash and carrots which are sources of vitamin C and fiber, or mushrooms which are a great source of vitamin D. Leafy greens are a great source of vitamin B, which is a most healthy source of energy.
The current superfoods can usually be found in the fresh produce section too. For optimum health benefits from the food you eat, read more about trending superfoods here.
You likely already know how beneficial protein is for your body, as it helps to build and repair muscle and tissue, but did you know that protein also builds up our antibodies that help us to fight off illnesses? Again, a variety of protein is key to optimum health. Be sure to select beef in lean or extra-lean cuts. Choose from a variety of shellfish and fish, which are high in omega-3 and zinc, an immunity boosting mineral which helps the body to repair itself and to fight inflammation. Animal proteins are also a good source of vitamin B12, which is important for brain function, DNA production and the formation of red blood cells.
Stop by the canned goods aisle and pick up some chickpeas, which are a great source of B6, specific to immunity boosting, or lentils which are another source of protein and zinc.
An excellent way to fight off disease and promote a healthy digestive system is through the use of probiotics, found in yogurts (with the active bacteria acidophilus), kombucha and kefir drinks. When selecting a yogurt that works best for your family’s health, be sure to choose one that is low in sugar. Your best choice is to buy plain yogurt and add your own fruit for flavor. Many Greek yogurts are also a good source of protein.
If you prefer to eat products that are not derived from animals, there are several types of non-dairy milks that are fortified with vitamin B12.
Nuts and Grains
Whole grains are another good source of vitamin B, which is an important ingredient in an immunity-boosting diet. While there are choices of breads, pastas and rice that are made from whole grains, don’t forget that farro, quinoa and spelt are also great options that you may not have tried before.
Nuts are another great source of protein and are really satisfying when added to salads or on their own as a snack. Brazil nuts are great immunity boosters, packed with selenium, which is an immunity booster as well as important for cognitive function. Some seafood is also rich in this mineral.
There are lots of ways to use all of the wonderfully healthy ingredients you have now purchased from the grocery store. A popular choice for the winter months is chili, in which you can incorporate vitamin-rich tomatoes and protein-rich beans. Soups are an easy way to combine many vegetables into a healthy meal, and can be combined with whole grain bread or pasta, which then offers your family multiple health benefits. Using several vegetables and healthy meats as pizza toppings is another way to use multiple ingredients in one meal, and pizza is a meal that the whole family will enjoy! You can also try making your family-favorite recipes and swap some ingredients for some of these immune-boosting, healthier choices while keeping the dish relatively the same. This is a great way to introduce your family to healthier eating.