Good choice: Sports drink
Even better: Tart cherry juice
Here’s why: Research shows that regular consumption of tart cherry juice (up to 3 cups per day) can reduce post-exercise muscle soreness. Tart cherries are loaded with nutrients that can reduce inflammation better than aspirin without side effects such as gastrointestinal bleeding. Get brands like R.W. Knudsen in the health food sections of grocery stores or at natural food stores. Two tablespoons per day of tart cherry juice concentrate has the same effect.
Good choice: Low-fat baked chips
Even better: Bean and lentil chips
Here’s why: These crunchy legume mashups that can include garbanzos and the Asian favorite adzuki bean are just as yummy as low-fat baked chips with more fiber (6 grams per serving) and fewer carbs, calories and fat. Gluten-free, they’re also a decent source of potassium, protein and iron. Look for brands like Beanitos and Mediterranean Snack Food Co. in your supermarket’s health food section.
Good choice: Whole wheat bread
Even better: Sprouted grain bread
Here’s why: To make sprouted-grain bread, wheat kernels are soaked and allowed to sprout before being ground and baked into loaves. Sprouting boosts vitamins C and B, and iron, calcium and protein content. Sprouted grain breads are also digested more slowly, keeping blood sugar levels steadier. Brands like Food for Life, Ezekiel Bread and Manna Organics are usually found in the frozen food sections of supermarkets.
Good choice: Energy bars
Even better: Natural energy bars
Here’s why: Instead of a long list of indecipherable ingredients, artificial flavors, colors, preservatives and added sweeteners, these bars feature recognizable, real foods, like fruit, nuts, seeds, coconut and honey. Brands like LaraBar, CLIF Kit’s Organic bars and Zone Perfect’s Perfectly Simple bars are available at most drug and grocery stores.
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Good choice: Skim milk
Even better: Unsweetened almond milk
Here’s why: Made by finely grinding raw, blanched almonds in water, unsweetened almond milk has more magnesium than cow’s milk, plus fiber, folate and healthy fats. It’s lactose-free and has only 30 calories per cup (skim cow’s milk has 85 calories). It is one of the best-tasting and least allergenic milk substitutes you can buy. Find brands like Silk Pure Almond in the dairy case or on store shelves in boxes or pouches.
Good choice: Brown rice
Even better: Multigrain blends
Here’s why: These new side dish options often combine brown rice with grains and seeds like flaxseed, fiber-rich barley, high-protein quinoa and buckwheat, which is known for its trace mineral content. Several brands—Indian Harvest, Near East and Seeds of Change, among others—offer a variety of mixes. They’re typically stocked with the rice at most grocery stores.
Good choice: Egg whites
Even better: Omega-3 eggs
Here’s why: Most experts now agree that the vitamin A, iron and brain-boosting choline in egg yolks outweigh any concerns that the cholesterol they contain will affect heart attack risk. Plus, omega-3 eggs deliver the many benefits of these healthy fats, known to improve heart health, mental focus and even relieve aching joints. Land O’ Lakes and Eggland’s Best, among other brands, are featured in your food store’s refrigerated section.
Good choice: Whole wheat pasta
Even better: Shirataki noodles
Here’s why: Shirataki noodles made from the root of an Asian plant called Konjac (sometimes combined with tofu) have fewer carbs and calories and more fiber than whole wheat noodles. Konjac is high in glucomannan, a fiber known for its ability to regulate blood sugar. The gluten-free noodles absorb flavors well. Find them in Asian stores and some supermarkets.