Incorporating produce into your diet is crucial to dropping pounds, maintaining a healthy weight and supporting your overall health. Fruits and veggies are loaded with vital nutrients, are naturally low in calories and have high fiber content, keeping you fuller longer. When navigating the produce department at your local grocery or shopping for healthy goods at a farmers market, it’s good to know how to pick the best produce. Here are some strategies for heading home with the freshest and nicest produce you can find.
Whenever you can, buy your produce from a local farm. Fruits and veggies that are grown closer to home pack the highest nutritional punch, and generally taste better, because they are harvested closer to the time of purchase than produce sold in a grocery store. Buying local produce is also a great way to support your local economy and community.
Use Your Senses
Don’t be shy about picking up produce to scope out its quality and how ripe it is. In general, you will want to feel for overly squishy spots and avoid produce that appears to have begun decomposing. Certain produce should maintain a harder feel, and others should have a little give to them. Take a whiff of fruits like cantaloupe and pineapples. Oftentimes, these fruits become more fragrant as they ripen. Taste any fruits or veggies that the store might be sampling that day. This is a good way to try different varieties of fruits, such as apples.
Plan it Out
While much of the time you are shopping, you may be in search of the ripest fruit, there are occasions in which you may want to purchase under- or over-ripe fruit. For example, if you consume one avocado per day, you might want to stock up at the beginning of the week. For this reason, it’s a good idea to pick out one or two ripe avocados that you can use in the first couple of days, and pick out harder or under-ripe avocadoes for later in the week. This way, you avoid being stuck with browning avocados by Thursday or Friday. Look for over-ripe bananas if you have some banana bread to whip up or if you make daily smoothies. You can peel the ripened bananas in bulk to store in the freezer in a bag or container. Just grab a frozen banana out of the freezer each morning to add as an easy base to your smoothie.
Do Some Research
Each fruit and vegetable is different. Whereas, hard crispness is favored in finding the best apple or bunch of celery, a softer flesh is more desirable in other produce, such as eggplant, mangos and kiwis. Check out Real Simple’s A-to-Z guide as a starting point to compare what to look for in different types of produce.