By Somi Igbene
When you start trying to eat a healthier diet, it is sometimes difficult to decide which foods you should prioritise and which foods you should eat sparingly or eliminate. Some foods appear healthy at first glance, but when you look closely, they are very high in saturated fat, salt or added sugars. This article provides simple tips to help you stock your pantry and fridge with healthier foods.
Bread: Bread is usually labelled as unhealthy food, but that is not always the case. When buying bread, look for the phrase ‘Whole grain’ in the ingredients. Whole grains are more nourishing than refined grains because they contain more fibre, vitamins and minerals.
Grains: Instead of buying refined grains like white rice, yam flour, oat, flour, or white pasta, choose brown rice, ofada rice, whole wheat pasta, and millet. Whole grains are digested more slowly and keep you feeling fuller, longer.
Fat: Essential fat is necessary in your diet because it keeps your brain, skin and hair and other vital organs healthy. Saturated fat and trans fat, typically found in corn beef, butter, dairy products, palm and coconut oil, increase the risk of obesity and other chronic conditions. Eat more unsaturated fats from nuts and seeds and cook with unsaturated fats like olive oil.
Cereal: Many of the cereals you find on supermarket shelves are loaded with sugar and contain minimal amounts of fibre. If you eat cereal regularly, it is essential that you read the nutritional content on the package. Choose cereals that contains no more than 5g of sugar per serving. Your cereal should also provide at least 4g of fibre.
Salt: Most stock cubes and packaged foods contain high levels of salt. A portion of food is considered low in sodium if it provides less than 125mg of sodium per serving.
Legumes: Choose beans and lentils more often than meat and poultry for protein. As well as providing fibre, they are good sources of iron, calcium, and magnesium.
Finally, don’t be fooled by foods that seem healthy but aren’t — granola bars, fried vegetable snacks, high-sugar fruit snacks, fried nuts, deep fried snacks like chin chin, plantain crisps etc. These foods are usually high in sugar, fat and sodium, but very nutrient-poor.