Grocery stores are full of many products and brands, and sometimes shopping is a frustrating chore because we have to choose which product and brand we want to spend our money on. Is organic food better? Are different brands different quality? And is it worthwhile to buy products in smaller or larger quantities? To help you out, we've compiled a list of 10 popular products looking at whether you should invest your money in healthier options, or save on them because of misleading advertising and insignificant differences between them and their organic competitors.
Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids and is beneficial to heart health no matter which brand or country it comes from. For the richest taste, choose extra virgin olive oil, and for nutritional values check the product's packaging date - the fresher it is, the better. Keep olive oil in a cool, dark place to maintain its quality, and don’t feel that you need to buy the most expensive product to achieve the best taste and health benefits. Surprisingly, the cheapest olive oils are the most versatile in terms of the nutritional value they provide.
Note that labels claiming the product is “cholesterol-free", are in most cases meaningless, since all plant-based oils don’t contain cholesterol. One thing that should be addressed is the pH level of the oil, and the lower it is, the higher the quality of the oil. A product that is labeled virgin olive oil should contain a maximum acidity level of 0.8 percent.
Canola oil is one of the most popular oils to use because of its natural taste, it's fatty acids and health benefits, and the fact that it can be cooked at different temperatures. Like olive oil, it is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, but unlike olive oil, genetically modified seeds are usually used to produce it. In addition, a significant part of the preparation process includes the use of solvents, distillates and odor removers, which you would prefer to avoid. The easiest way to do this is simply to buy organic canola oil, the process of which is completely natural and doesn’t include the use of heating or chemical substances and genetic engineering.
Using spices in cooking is the easiest and best way to add flavor to a dish and upgrade its health benefits. If you want to get the best taste, don’t look for the most expensive products rather the freshest ones. The closer the packaging date, the better the quality of spice. Spices that come in their whole form retain their freshness for longer than spices that come powdered or ground, with a significant difference of several years. This is why it is recommended to buy whole spices and grind them at home.
If you want to check the freshness of the spices in your home, use your sense of smell and vision; If the spice’s smell has faded and its color has dulled, it's time to throw it out. Also, don’t waste your money on too many spices if you don’t plan on using them often, this way you’ll always have fresh spices on hand.
Although food that comes in sealed metal packaging sounds and feels less healthy than its fresh equivalent, canned beans are as rich in proteins and fiber as dry beans, but not all canned beans are packaged the same way. First, a cheap can of beans can contain certain additives, such as calcium disodium, which help preserve the color of the beans, but at the same time may impair the body's ability to absorb its nutrients.
Another thing to pay attention to is the metal in the can itself. Many cans contain a chemical called bisphenol A, which is known to disrupt the endocrine system, which secretes hormones into the bloodstream. The easiest way to avoid such supplements is by purchasing organic beans, which is why it’s best to spend a little more in this case.
Avocado is a fruit rich in health benefits, including those linked to eye and heart health. Although pesticides are usually used in avocado crops, they shouldn’t worry you. In fact, avocado is the number one fruit on the EWG's (Environmental Working Group) "15 Cleanest Crops" list, which means that there are very few pesticides in it, and in any case, you don’t actually eat the peel, thereby reducing your contact with pesticides completely. This is why you don’t have to go for the organic option, and you can feel safe saving your money when picking out avocados.
In contrast to avocados, apples are at the top of the EWG’s “Dirty Dozen" list, which means that apples have the highest amount of pesticides relative to other crops tested. This is definitely not where you want to see one of the most commonly eaten and favorite fruits. Of all the apples carefully examined, 99% contained pesticide residues which can increase your risk of cancer, so you may want to spend a little more buying organic apples or at least wash your apples well before you eat them.
There is almost no difference in the taste of pasta among the various brands, and that is because most of them are prepared using the same recipe. Whole wheat pasta is made from, as its name suggests, whole wheat, and regular pasta is made from wheat flour and various essential supplements such as niacin, iron, thiamin, vitamin B2, and folic acid. These two types are excellent sources of complex carbohydrates, but only from whole wheat pasta will you get the benefits of whole wheat and more natural fiber.
Whether it was made in Italy or elsewhere in the world, there is no need to spend more money on what seems to us to be more "authentic" or organic, since there are no real significant differences. Most of the flavor of your pasta will come from the sauce you make for it, so even its taste shouldn’t be a significant factor when making your choice.
Although canned tuna contains many proteins and omega-3 fatty acids that benefit our hearts, you may also be consuming high levels of mercury if you do not choose your tuna carefully. This contaminant can accumulate over time in the bloodstream and is particularly dangerous for the nervous system of fetus’ and young children.
According to recommendations by the US Food and Drug Administration and the US Environmental Protection Agency, it is best not to eat more than one can of tuna per week, and the American Pediatric Association recommends that children consume only 2 cans a month. An ordinary can of light tuna usually has less methyl-mercury than canned tuna with sauces and additives and is, therefore, more recommended than other types.
Water is the cheapest drink we have, and it isn’t something that we should take for granted just because of its availability. There are so many brands of water that promise great taste and health benefits to their competitors, but in fact, all water has to meet the same strict international standards to be considered safe for drinking.
Instead of buying bottled water, you can invest in a filter that will help you get the same quality at a more cost-effective price. Also, if you don’t recycle your bottles, you should consider starting, since such a change will help our world stay cleaner and healthier.