A nutritionist shares her favorite healthy canned goods, snacks, and other food options you may not realize are actually good for you
10 Packaged Foods That Are Surprisingly Healthy
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Food shopping can make your head spin, especially when it comes to packaged foods: What's healthy and what's not? For example, recently, Kraft Singles gained a seal of approval from Kids Eat Right—an initiative from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation—but not all nutrition professionals agree that this packaged dairy food is the healthiest or tastiest choice. That's why we rounded up 10 top picks for packaged foods that won't derail your diet. (And next time you go grocery shopping, consider stocking up on The 50 Best Snacks for Weight Loss.)
Photo: Corbis Images
Funky Monkey Freeze-Dried Fruit
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The 2015 Dietary Guidelines Committee report pointed out that Americans don’t eat the recommended daily servings of fruit. Freeze-dried fruit are made by a simple process of just that, freezing and then drying the fruit. It tastes a bit sweeter because the water is removed, so the fruit is more condensed. Funky Monkey doesn’t use added sugar, sweeteners, or any artificial stuff. What you taste comes from the fruit.
Photo: Funky Monkey
Whole Grain Barilla Pasta
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The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend making half your daily grains whole. Although wheat has gotten a bad reputation in the gluten-free world, it’s filled with fiber, iron, and B-vitamins. Bulk it up with delicious veggies and grilled chicken for a quick weeknight meal.
Sargento Sliced Mild Cheddar Cheese
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Cheese is an excellent way to take in a serving of dairy, but if you’re going to pick up slices, I recommend natural cheeses like Swiss, cheddar, or mozzarella. Not only are they tastier and less processed, they’re also well priced.
Eden Foods Canned Beans
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Although you may steer clear of canned goods, Eden Foods offers a variety of these legumes in BPA-free containers with no-salt added. You’re left with the goodness of beans brimming with fiber, protein, iron, calcium, and folate all ready to eat in minutes. (Then get cooking with these 10 Quick and Creative Recipes Using Canned Food.)
Photo: Eden Foods
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This isn’t your father’s jerky brimming with preservatives and additives. These tasty snacks are low in calories and high in protein. They don’t contain nitrates and artificial flavors and are made using lean cuts of domestic meat. They’re also much lower in sodium and cholesterol than many competing brands. Flavors include Basil Citrus Turkey, Garlic Chili Pepper Beef, and Black Cherry Barbecue Pork.
Crazy Richards Peanut Butter
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Not all peanut butters are created equal. Many have added oils and salt and/or sugars, but not Crazy Richards. You’ll find one ingredient listed on the label: peanuts. A two tablespoon portion will give you a healthy dose of energy-boosting niacin and antioxidants like vitamin E and resveratrol, which you can also find in red wine.
Photo: Crazy Richards
Applegate Cold Cuts
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Just like peanut butter, some cold cuts are just better than the rest. Dietitian Dana Angelo White, R.D. teamed up with Applegate as an advisor on their "Sandwich Board" and says: “I am proud to be affiliated with Applegate products—they are simple, clean, and produced with the environment in mind. Cold cuts are made from humanely raised pork, beef, and poultry and they are free of hormones and added nitrates and nitrites.”
Royal Harvest Nature’s Maraschino Cherries
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You can enjoy maraschinos again! These babies use fruit and vegetable concentrates, instead of any artificial stuff. They’re also made with real sugar, but just enough to give flavor. Each cherry has 10 calories and 2 grams sugar. Enjoy them over yogurt, to flavor your sparkling water, or in a green salad. (Learn more about Mystery Food Additives and Ingredients from A to Z.)
Photo: Royal Harvest Nature’s
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Granolas are heavy on the calories and many mixes are laden with sugar. Lara uses simple, wholesome ingredients and packages them into 200 calorie single-serve bags, which help keep calories in check.
Dole Frozen Fruit
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Stock up on frozen fruit when fresh is out of season, or when you just can’t get to the market. Studies have found that fruit that is flash frozen at peak ripeness to maintain their nutritional goodness. Choose frozen fruit that doesn't have added sugar (check the ingredient list). At home, store in your freezer in a tightly sealed bag to ensure safety and quality.