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Healthy Food You'll Only Find Inside the Supermarket Aisles

Healthy Food You'll Only Find Inside the Supermarket Aisles

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For years, we’ve been told to shop the perimeter of the supermarket. That's where you’ll find fresh, wholesome foods like produce and the butcher and seafood counters. However, there are many healthy foods wedged within the aisles too. So during your next trip to the market, turn your cart inward and look for these 10 healthy foods.

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Beans

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Whether dried or canned, this legume is an important complex carb—your brain brain uses it for energy. One-half cup of canned or cooked beans has about 110 calories and 7.5 grams of protein and fiber. Due to this high fiber and protein content, beans help you feel fuller for longer, which can help prevent overeating.

If you choose canned beans, avoid those made with added fat or meats (like pork), or beans that are refried. Look for labels that say “low sodium” or “no added sodium.” Studies have shown that rinsing beans can help lower the sodium by up to 40 percent too.

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Olive Oil

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This healthy oil is a pantry staple. It contains healthy monounsaturated fat shown to help lower cholesterol when used to replace artery clogging saturated fat like butter. As all oils contain about 120 calories and 14 grams of fat per serving, portion control is essential.

But remember, don't store olive oil next to your stove! The heat can cause it to spoil rather quickly. Instead, place it in a cool, dark place away from the sunlight or heat. Once opened, olive oil has a shelf life of about two years.

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Peanut Butter

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Whether you’re a crunchy or smooth fan, peanut butter is another pantry must-have. One tablespoon has about 90 to 100 calories, 4 grams protein, and 8 grams heart healthy fat. The nutty stuff also contains a nice amount of energy-producing niacin, and antioxidants like vitamin E and resveratrol (the same antioxidant found in red wine).

Use peanut butter in your morning smoothies, on whole grain toast with jam, or make a peanut sauce to dress cole slaw or a soba noodle salad. (And with that store-bought PB, make one of 12 Crazy-Amazing Homemade Peanut Butter Recipes.)

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Hummus

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This dip made of ground chickpeas and tahini (or sesame seed paste) can be found in the refrigerated section of your grocery store. The prepared hummus shelf is now brimming with flavored hummus (chipotle hummus, mmm). Two tablespoons of plain hummus contains about 70 calories, 5 grams fat, 1 gram fiber, and 2 grams protein. Serve hummus with fresh sticks of vegetables, whole wheat pita chips, or pretzels. Use as a condiment for a grilled veggie sandwich, a burger, or to dip your eggs. (Or try these 13 New Ways to Eat Hummus.)

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Quinoa

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Although categorized as a grain, quinoa is actually a seed. It has a mild nutty flavor, chewy texture, and cooks like rice (combined with water or broth). Although the most common is the beige variety, you can find red and black quinoa too.

One cup of the cooked seed contains 220 calories, 5 grams fiber, and 8 grams protein. Quinoa is unique in that it contains all eight of the essential amino acids your body needs. It’s also gluten-free, so those with a gluten allergy can reap the benefits too. (Don't think you have to relegate this ancient grain to savory dinner bowls and work lunches—it's plenty good in the morning too, like in one of these 10 Easy Recipes for Healthy Breakfast Bowls.)

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Almonds

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One ounce of almonds (23 almonds) contains 162 calories, 14 grams heart healthy unsaturated fat, and 6 grams protein. They’re also an excellent source of the antioxidant vitamin E, providing 40 percent of your daily recommended amount. Almonds also contain a few flavonoids that have been shown to help prevent cancer and decrease your risk of heart disease. Choose unsalted raw or dry roasted versions to cut back on sodium. To help keep portions in check, tote your almond snack in perfectly portioned almond tins.

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Oats

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Whether rolled or steel cut, oats are a versatile whole grain that should make it regularly into your shopping cart. Steel cut oats are thicker, shorter grains than traditional rolled oats. They have a slightly nuttier flavor and crunchier texture and can be cooked with milk or water. Although most people associate oats to their morning bowl of hot cereal, these babies are much more versatile. Add them to your morning smoothie, or bake into cookies, muffins, pancakes, and snack bars.

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Seltzer

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Many people skip the soda aisle, but forget that seltzer is a non-calorie drink they can add to their beverage repertoire. Besides drinking it straight up, seltzer can be mixed with juice or wine for a spritzer or flavored by muddling fruit into it. (Stock up on several of those $1 bottles and make one of these 10 Sparkling Drinks Superior to Diet Soda.)

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Dried Fruit

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When you just can’t get to the farm for the fresh stuff, dried fruit is a great alternative. Dried apricots, plums, raisins, mango, and other delicious fruit contain vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients and count toward your recommended daily servings of fruit.

Because water is removed, dried fruit is more concentrated in calories and sugar, so portions are smaller (about half the portion of a fresh counterpart). Read the label to make sure no sugar was added to your dried fruit and that you’re taking in the recommended serving size.

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Salsa

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With about 25 to 40 calories per half cup of oil-free salsa, the flavor bursting condiment can be used on more than Mexican fare! Serve salsa instead of mayo, ketchup, or honey mustard, or make it a topping for fish or chicken for an easy, mouthwatering meal. You can even top it over your morning omelet or mix it into macaroni and cheese. And you don’t have to stop at tomato salsa —how about mango, pineapple, or even cherry salsa? The possibilities are endless. (Or, buy fresh ingredients and make one of 12 Homemade Salsa Recipes for Every Fiesta.)

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