Shopping WiselyBefore you shell out hard-earned dough on what you think are healthier choices, there may be a few everyday assumptions about your favorites foods that you should reconsider next time you’re at the grocery store or even just cooking at home.
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Organic Food Isn’t All-OrganicFoods bearing the word “organic” on their packaging may not be entirely organic. Only those specifically labeled 100% organic are actually completely organic, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And even foods with the USDA Organic label might only be 95% organic. Packages that list organic ingredients on the front of their package may only be 70% organic.
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Organic Food Isn’t Always CleanerOrganic fruits and vegetables may still be grown with pesticides. They’re just not synthetic chemicals. Biological pesticides are allowed in the treatment of organic produce including pyrethrum, a potentially cancer-causing substance that happens to be organic. Plus, if an organic farm is located near a non-organic farm, there’s always a chance that pesticides from the synthetic chemically treated land can be carried by the wind to the organic farm. Plus, organic produce can still harbor bacteria including E. coli, notes Marie Claire magazine.
There are a number of fruits and vegetables that may actually be just as clean and pesticide free – not to mention cheaper – compared with their organic counterparts.
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Decaf Isn’t Caffeine FreeDecaffeinated drinks are drinks in which natural caffeine is removed, but some caffeine usually remains. That remaining caffeine may still be a high enough concentration to cause someone to develop a caffeine addiction if they don’t already have one, according to Science Daily.
This is an especially important fact to know if you suffer from hypertension, in which case any amount of caffeine – even in the amounts found in decaffeinated coffee – could make your condition worse.
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Nonfat Foods Contain FatSo-called fat free foods may actually contain just under 0.5 grams of fat per serving. That’s because, when foods are analyzed to determine their fat content, any amount of fat that’s less than 0.5 grams can be rounded down to zero, according to government regulations. The same goes for nutrition labels referring to trans fats, notes the American Heart Association.
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Chicken Isn’t Always the Leanest ChoiceMany cuts of beef are actually lower in fat content than some cuts of chicken. Three ounces of cooked top sirloin steak, for example, has 4.9 grams of fat, while a skinless chicken thigh has 9.2 grams of fat per cooked three ounces, according to USDA research.
So whether you’re dining out or staying in, pay attention to the cut of meat you’re considering and don’t just assume that chicken is better. Photo Credit: J Wynia
Fresh Vs. Frozen VeggiesFarmers market purists might think they’re making the healthiest, most vitamin-rich produce choices, but if fresh produce stays in the fridge too long, essential vitamins could be lost.
In fact, nutrients in produce are being lost as soon as fruits and vegetables are harvested, and can lose much of its nutritional value if left in the fridge for more than a few days, notes The New York Times. On the other hand, vegetables that are frozen soon after being harvested retain more nutrients than many of those picked fresh, then stored.
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Whole Wheat Isn’t Always the BestContrary to what one might assume, whole wheat bread may not be your healthiest option when you’re making a sandwich. Whole wheat bread actually had a worse impact on blood sugar levels than white bread, according to research by the University of Guelph in Canada.
Furthermore, packages boasting “hearty grains” may only provide one gram of fiber per slice, notes The Wall Street Journal. “Make sure the first ingredient contains the word ‘whole,’" the Journal says, like “whole grains,” which include the outer, more fiber rich grain materials called the bran and the germ.
Don’t be convinced that any bread that’s brown is healthy. Some bread is just brown because coloring has been added, so it’s important to take a look at ingredients labels and steer clear of so-called wheat breads that contain white refined flour and caramel coloring.
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The Fat Free Dressing MythWe’re not saying it’s OK to dump half a bottle of ranch dressing on a bowl of ice berg lettuce, but limiting yourself to fat-free dressing may not be the healthiest way to approach salads either. It turns out that for certain salad ingredients like tomatoes, nutrients are more easily absorbed when they’re accompanied by a little bit of fat, according to the Chicago Tribune. Ideally, you’d stick to good fats like olive oil, walnut oil or avocadoes.
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Raw Beef: Brown Doesn’t Mean BadBeef that’s fresh from the grocery store or the butcher might be bright red, but if parts of it are brown when you take it out of the package, it doesn’t mean your meat is spoiled.
Beef can turn red when it’s exposed to oxygen in the same way your own blood does. If it’s brown or grayish brown in the middle, that may just be because it hasn’t come in direct contact with oxygen. On the other hand, if your meat has turned completely gray or brown, it could be starting to go bad, according to the USDA.
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Buying By Sell-By Dates
You might not be getting the absolute freshest grocery item if you buy it a day after its sell-by date, but if your store is otherwise out of stock of the ingredient you need, it’s usually just fine to buy it. After all, it’s not expected that you’ll finish it right away if you buy it the day before the sell-by date anyway.
Generally, sell-by, use-by and expiration dates refer how long a product can go before losing nutrient content, freshness and flavor, as MainStreet previously reported.
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Eating Old EggsRegardless of whether the sell-by date on your carton of eggs has passed, you can generally keep them in your fridge for three to five weeks, the USDA says. If you shop at a store that gets eggs just a day or two after they’re laid, you may even be able to keep them weeks longer.
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Sick in Five Seconds?I have to admit that in a few cases I’ll employ the five second rule. But even if you pick up dropped food quickly, if it’s fallen on your kitchen floor, it may still pick up some potentially-dangerous bacteria.
More bacteria may be detected if you leave your food on the floor for longer than five seconds, but you can still pick up 150 to 8,000 bacteria even if you pick it up immediately, according to HowStuffWorks.com.
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TwinkiesIt’s been a widely held belief that these delicious snack cakes have an indefinite shelf life and may even last through a nuclear holocaust. We’re sorry to report that while it would be great to think that we’d have Twinkies to comfort us after a huge disaster (natural or man-made), the truth is that a Twinkie's shelf life is officially just 25 days, Tech Republic notes.
They’re not made with real cream, so they won’t go rancid after a few days, but they’re not completely made of plastic either. If anyone knows where we can buy 26-day-old Twinkies at a huge discount, please let us know.
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Adding Salt Won’t Boil Water FasterAdding salt to water on the stove might look like it magically makes it boil faster, but that may just be an illusion. The act of adding any fine powder to water causes bubbles to rise, according the Discovery Channel online. In fact, the boiling point of water increases slightly when you add salt, Discovery says.
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Stomach Acids Can’t Always ProtectMany people believe that natural stomach acids or eating spicy or acidic food can kill of bacteria like Salmonella if you’ve somehow ingested it. But actually, some bacteria thrive in an acidic environment, according to HowStuffWorks.com.
Chilies and alcohol-based marinades can’t kill all bacteria that may be present on meat, so it’s not safe to leave it out on the counter under any condition, according to the Alaska Division of Environmental Health. Beyond that, neither stomach acids, nor and the acidic nature of saliva, can protect you from Salmonella.
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Vitamins: More Isn’t Always BetterYour health isn’t boosted proportionally with the amount of vitamins you take. There are actually upper limits set for most vitamins and minerals, and if you go over that amount, it could actually be harmful to your health. For example, if you have too much calcium in your diet, it could lower your body’s ability to absorb iron, notes Real Simple. If you take too much vitamin A, it could affect your absorption of vitamin D.Photo Credit: bradleyj
You Don’t Need Eight Glasses of WaterBesides water, even caffeinated drinks like coffee, tea and soda count toward your daily fluid intake. You don’t necessarily have to add eight glasses of water to what you already drink during the day to stay hydrated and healthy, according to Dartmouth Medical School. Even juicy foods like apples and leafy greens count toward a healthy total fluid intake, notes Parenting magazine. Photo Credit: shrff14
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