Dr. Oz's 99 Healthiest Foods -- How Many Are in Your Shopping Cart?

ApplesBy Jessica Smith

Find out which healthy staples Dr. Mehmet Oz, a cardiothoracic surgeon, author and host of the Dr. Oz Show, recommends plus get tips on how to save at checkout.

Supermarket Staple #1: Tree Fruits (Apples, Pears)

Why It's a Must Have: White fleshed fruits and veggies (such as apples and pears) have been shown to help reduce heart disease even more than their colored counterparts. "Apples are also rich in quercetin, a flavonoid with strong anti-inflammatory properties," says Erin Palinski, a registered dietitian and author of the Belly Fat Diet for Dummies. "The pectin found in the skin and the anti-aging polyphenols in apples help reduce artery and cell damage, and their fiber has also been linked with reduction of LDL-cholesterol and body weight." In fact, one Brazilian study published in the journal Nutrition found that women who ate three apples or three pears a day lost significantly more weight than those that ate the same amount of calories, but didn't consume the fruits.

Budget Bonus: Shop for produce on a Tuesday or Wednesday, when it is more likely to have just arrived, instead of waiting until the weekend. Most markets receive deliveries during the week, and fruits and veggies that have just made it to the store means they be more likely to stay fresher longer (and get eaten, not wasted) at home. And if you can, buy local apples at your farmer's market in the spring, summer, and fall to cut costs and improve their nutritional value, recommends Palinski. "Local fruits and vegetables are picked and sold immediately, helping them retain their nutrient level."

Recipes to Try:
Roasted Turkey Wraps with Green Apples and Brie
Roasted Chicken and Pears

Supermarket Staple #2: Citrus Fruits (Oranges, Lemons, Limes)

Why It's a Must Have: Citrus fruits are a great source of vitamin C, says Palinski. "One German study found that vitamin C helps reduce stress levels and return blood pressure and the stress hormone cortisol to normal levels after a stressful situation - which may help prevent chronic stress and decrease body fat storage in the abdomen." Palinski recommends eating 2-4 servings of fruit (including at least one serving of a citrus fruit) per day to reap their nutritional benefits. And, if weight loss is your goal, you may want to focus on grapefruit -- one 2004 study conducted by the Nutrition and Metabolic Research Center at Scripps Clinic, found that subjects who ate half a grapefruit before each meal lost an average of 3.6 pounds over 12 weeks (some even lost more than 10 pounds), without making any other dietary changes.

Budget Bonus: Skip fresh fruit when it's out of season (in the US, citrus is typically in season from late fall and through winter) since fruits have to travel further during off-season, recommends Palinski. "In off-season, reach for canned citrus fruit in its own juice or flash frozen citrus."

Recipes to Try:
Sweet and Spicy Orange Chicken
Lemon Dill Green Beans

Supermarket Staple #3: Stone Fruits (Peaches, Plums, Apricots, Cherries, Tangerines)


Why It's a Must Have: This (mostly) sweet group of fruits is a delicious way to eat your vitamins and fiber. "Tart cherries in particular, are an anti-inflammatory powerhouse that recent studies have shown offers greater results for gout-related pain reduction than for prescription drugs," says Dr. Rovenia Brock, a nutrition coach on the Dr. Oz Show and author of Dr. Ro's Ten Secrets to Livin' Healthy. "They contain an intense amount of the antioxidants; the anthocyanins responsible for their bright red pigment are also good sources of Vitamin A, making them helpers for eye health as well. They also help reduce heart disease risk, lower LDL (bad) cholesterol, blood lipids, and may reduce risk for type 2 diabetes."

Budget Bonus: Stone fruits are summer season fruits, so it's best to buy them fresh when they are least expensive, and most plentiful locally, during the warmer months (check out the free app Locavore for help finding local, in-season produce). Skip the pricier imports and buy frozen varieties (sans added sugars and syrups) instead when they aren't in season.

Recipes to Try:
Peach Frozen Yogurt
Apricot Jam

Supermarket Staple #4: Bananas

Why It's a Must Have: Bananas are often mislabeled as a 'fattening fruit' but don't believe that erroneous myth. Not only are these fat-free, 100-calorie fruits easy to eat on the go, but they are a good source of vitamins A and C, fiber and potassium - which could help slim you down. "Bananas are a fantastic source of potassium, which can help reduce blood pressure and prevent water retention," says Palinski.

Budget Bonus: Good news - you can skip the organic versions of this fruit without worry. "Bananas are one of the least 'dirty' fruits," says Palinski. "Save even more money by purchasing bananas that are still slightly green, since they will last longer."

Recipes to Try:
Baked Banana Oatmeal
Gingersnap Banana Frozen Yogurt

Supermarket Staple #5: Grapes

Why It's a Must Have:
Swap out your candy bowl for a bunch of healthy, naturally sweet grapes. This water rich fruit makes a great energy-boosting snack that can also help to reduce inflammation, which may lower your heart disease risk and even reduce arthritis pain, says Palinski. "Grapes contain high levels of anthocyanins, flavonoids and resveratrol, all of which aid the heart in the task of pumping blood to the brain and other organs resulting in an energy boost."

Budget Bonus:
Save by buying grapes in season (while it depends on the variety, most grapes grown in the US arrive from California, where they are in season from late June to December), and reaching for raisins during off-season, Palinski suggests. "Raisins have all the same great benefits [of grapes] and contain no added sugars."

Recipes to Try:
Pear and Grape Salad
Blueberry Grape Smoothie

Supermarket Staple #6: Melons

Why It's a Must Have: Antioxidant rich melon fruits may help promote weight loss, Palinski says. "Melons are very rich in vitamin C, which studies have shown helps to prevent stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline from peaking. Since stress hormones store more fat, especially in the abdomen, eating foods rich in vitamin C may help to shed unhealthy visceral (belly) fat." And, if you like watermelon, eat up! It may help you reduce your body fat faster. According to one 2011 study published in the Journal of Nutrition, daily supplementation of the amino acid arginine (found in watermelon) helped laboratory mice lose 64% more body fat over three months.

Budget Bonus: Steer clear of the pre-cut containers of melons that can cost up to three times as much and stick with in season melons instead. Not sure how to tell if they're ripe? Give them a good squeeze - a ripe melon shouldn't feel like concrete, but shouldn't be too squishy either. And watermelon? Give it a little knock - a ripe one should sound hollow.

Recipes to Try:
Melon Panzanella
Cucumber Watermelon Spritz

Supermarket Staple #7: Greens (Romaine, Arugula, Iceberg, Cabbage, Collards, Turnip Greens, Mustard Greens, Swiss Chard)

Why It's a Must Have: Greens contain a variety of antioxidants and phytochemicals that help your body stay healthy. Swiss chard, for example, is a magnesium powerhouse that can help boost your energy level and has been shown to reduce depression, says Dr. Brock. And just one cup of raw collard greens meets half of your recommended daily dose of vitamin C. "All leafy greens are must-haves for their low-calorie, nutrient-dense contribution to any meal plan for healthy living."

Budget Bonus: "Buy leafy greens fresh in loose bunches as the cut, packaged options cost up to $2-3 more," says Dr. Brock. "Frozen greens are acceptable for same nutrition but avoid canned or 'seasoned' varieties as they are usually not only more expensive, but high in sodium."

Recipes to Try:
Hearty Soup with Beans, Greens and Grains
Grits & Greens Casserole

Supermarket Staple #8: Baby Carrots


Why It's a Must Have:
These portable, prepped and easy to eat veggies are rich in carotenoids, which are great for eye and heart health, Palinski says. "And you can maximize the absorption of their nutrients by eating them with a healthy fat, such as hummus or peanut butter (both also on this grocery list)."

Budget Bonus: Something to chew on: while baby carrots may be a bit pricier than regular carrots, you may be more likely to eat them since they don't have to be prepared before eating. And they are still cheaper (and much better for your health and waistline) than that bag of chips.

Recipes to Try:
Carrot Soup
Carrot and Orange Salad

Supermarket Staple #9: Celery

Why It's a Must Have:
This slimming, water-rich veggie makes a great edible serving 'spoon' for healthy dips and spreads, or as a crunchy addition to tuna or chicken salad. "Celery is a natural diuretic and a very low calorie vegetable, making it a great way to fill up without filing out," Palinski says.

Budget Bonus: Palinski recommends buying organic celery, since this veggie tops the 'dirty dozen' list. To save money, look for store specials, stock up at a local farmers market or try joining a local co-op for deals on organic produce. And while celery is available in stores year round, if you buy local, shop for fresh celery during the summer months when it's in peak season.

Recipe to Try:
Waldorf Salad

Supermarket Staple #10: Avocados

Why It's a Must Have: Don't shy away from avocados if you are trying to lose weight! While they are high in fat, they are full of the heart healthy monounsaturated kind, and the fats and potassium in avocados help lower blood pressure, stabilize stress levels and reduce belly fat, says Palinski. "Studies have shown diets rich in monounsaturated fats may help reduce belly fat storage."

Budget Bonus: Since this thick-skinned produce item is one of the fruits with the lowest amount of toxins, you don't have to go organic with avocados, Palinski says. And if you aren't going to eat them right away, purchase hard, not yet ripe avocados to make them last longer. "To keep them ripening slowly over time (you can keep them for 1-2 weeks), place them in the fruit bin of the refrigerator. And with already sliced avocado, mash it and freeze it to use in recipes or as a dip when needed."

Recipes to Try:
Avocado-Corn Salsa
White Bean and Avocado Enchiladas

Supermarket Staple #11: Potatoes

Why It's a Must Have: Potatoes often get a bad rap (a recent Harvard study published in the New England Journal of Medicine placed them at the top of the list of foods that cause weight gain) but the truth is they're not all that bad, says Dr. Oz. "Potatoes are a great source of vitamin C and are completely fat free. But you need to know how you cook your taters and watch out for the fixins! Butter, sour cream, and cheese are total belly busters." So what about that Harvard study? The research specifically cited fried potatoes (in the form of French fries and chips) as a culprit for weight gain, says Dr. Oz. "And this is certainly true, so my advice is to stick to small serving sizes."

Budget Bonus: Love French fried potatoes? Save money (and fat grams) by baking your own! At only about 67 cents per pound, you'll save money and gain more nutrition by baking up your own (we love this recipe for oven baked fries) instead of buying a bag of frozen French fries.

Recipes to Try:
One-dish Chicken and Potatoes
Parmesan Mashed Potatoes

Supermarket Staple #12: Berries (Strawberries, Cranberries, Raspberries, Blueberries, Blackberries)

Why It's a Must Have: Berries are nutritional powerhouses! Blueberries, for example, are rich in antioxidants (anthocyanins) and phytochemicals that protect against heart disease, stroke, cancer, oxidative stress (which leads to chronic diseases), and urinary tract infections. They also have anti-inflammatory properties as well that helps to improve skin health, and stimulate the production of collagen," says Dr. Brock. "And strawberries contain more vitamin C than oranges!"

Budget Bonus: Save money and make your berries last longer by buying frozen -- they may actually contain more antioxidants than their fresh counterparts, says Dr. Brock. "Frozen wild blueberries contain more heart, cancer, and skin-protecting antioxidant activity than at least 20 or more fruits in their class, including strawberries, cultivated blueberries, pomegranates, cranberries, and grapes."

Recipes to Try:
Gluten-Free Mascarpone Berry Pie
Strawberry Sorbet

Supermarket Staple #13: Frozen Veggies (Peppers, Kale, Asparagus, Cauliflower, Onion, Spinach, Broccoli, Peas, Green Beans, Corn, Zucchini, Squash)

Why It's a Must Have: Think you have to spend more on fresh produce to reap the nutritional benefits? Think again! Frozen veggies may actually be even more nutritious than their fresh counterparts, says Palinski. "Frozen vegetables are picked at the peak of ripeness and flash frozen, which may allow them to maintain nutrients even more so then fresh vegetables (due to the travel time, oxidation, etc)."

Budget Bonus: Stick with store brands to save on frozen items, and Palinski recommends stocking up when items are on sale since frozen veggies can last for months in the freezer.

Recipes to Try:
Broccoli and Mushroom Veggie Pockets
Veggie Mac & Cheese

Supermarket Staple #14: All White Meat Ground Turkey

Why It's a Must Have: 98% fat free ground turkey serves up 26 grams of protein per four ounce serving. And, at only 130 calories and 2 grams of fat per serving, this low cholesterol meat is a much leaner alternative to regular ground beef, significantly reducing your intake of calories and artery clogging saturated fat, Palinski says.

Budget Bonus: Love turkey burgers? Instead of purchasing pre-made patties, save money by buying ground turkey and making your own, or even better, grind your own white meat turkey, recommends Palinski.

Recipes to Try:
Spaghetti with Turkey Meatballs in Spicy Tomato Sauce
Mom's Turkey Meatloaf

Supermarket Staple #15: Bison/Buffalo Burger (Sirloin Burger)

Why It's a Must Have: Believe it or not, bison (buffalo) meat is lower in fat and calories than chicken, says Dr. Brock. "Bison is considered a highly nutrient dense red meat because of its higher proportion of protein, fat, minerals, and fatty acids to calorie ratio." And not only is it 76% lower in fat, but it also has 35% more protein than beef and may help you reduce your cholesterol levels. "Studies show that eating 5 ounces of bison meat, 3-4 times per week may help most people to reduce artery-clogging LDL cholesterol 40-50 percent over a six-month period."

Budget Bonus: This is one investment worth making (think of all the money you are saving elsewhere) and buy grass-fed bison burgers or bison meat since its nutritional value is higher than conventional meat, recommends Dr. Brock.

Recipe to Try:
Buffalo Burgers with Tomato and Marjoram Topping

Click here for the complete list of Dr. Oz's Healthiest Foods!

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