When you’re at the grocery store, do you stare at the labels on everything from the egg cartons to the fish counter? I do! Sometimes it can be overwhelming trying to figure out which products are best to buy. How do you understand the differences between them, why it matters, and how to shop for the healthiest, most value-rich options?
When shopping for animal products, consider this: What your food eats and the environment in which it lives has a great impact on how healthy it is for you. If your food has been fed antibiotics, hormones, and GMO grains, and lived in tight cages or stalls with no sunlight exposure, it will be less healthy for you than food that is exposed to sunlight, allowed to move around, and is fed natural or organic feed with no antibiotics or hormones.
Eggs from chickens that are allowed to roam free and eat nutritious grass and insects along with commercial feed (even if it isn’t organic) have at least double the omega-3 fatty acid content of regular eggs. Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation as well as the risk of cancer, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and many other illnesses.
Eggs from grass and insect fed chickens that are allowed to roam are also higher in Vitamins A and E, and lower in saturated fat and cholesterol than eggs from conventionally raised chickens.
Here are some tips on choosing the healthiest eggs.
Avoid these labels: Cage Free, Vegetarian Fed, Pasteurized, or All Natural. These labels sound good, but they don’t mean that the chickens are allowed to roam and eat insects and plants.
Look for these labels:
- Free Roaming
It’s easy to fall for misleading labels! I fell for two of them on one purchase!
When shopping for meat, choose grass fed over grain fed. Meat from grass-fed animals has a much higher ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids than meat from grain-fed animals: 1 to 4 (much closer to the recommended ratio of 1 to 3) compared with about 1 to 20 for grain-fed meat.
So, if you like a good burger, buy meat that comes from a grass-fed cow.
We’re not suggesting it’s healthy to eat organic red meat every day, but if you eat a grass-fed burger every once in a while, it will be better for your health, especially if you add pureed black beans or chickpeas to the red meat for fibre and additional nutrients.
Many of us drink low-fat or skim milk because we don’t want to become overweight or to have a heart attack. Recent research has revealed that organic milk has more omega-3 fatty acids than conventional cow’s milk… in fact, about two-thirds more. Consuming more omega-3 fatty acids reduces your risk of heart attack and obesity.
You’ll also absorb more Vitamin D and calcium if you allow yourself this healthy fat in moderation. Why? Because these nutrients need fat in order to be absorbed.
This topic is very complex given the issue of mercury in our oceans. Seafood is nevertheless very healthy and should be an essential and frequent ingredient in your diet.
Farm-raised fish are generally higher in omega-6 and lower in omega-3 fatty acids than wild fish. This means that wild-caught fish is healthier for you.
If you’re concerned about mercury toxicity in fish, eating fish with fibre-rich foods, such as wheat bran and oat bran, or with foods rich in phytochemicals, such as green or black tea, will significantly reduce the bioavailability of mercury in fish.