Martha Stewart's "Living the Good Long Life" is a best-selling guide to aging with grace and good health -- and practicing smart eating habits is a major part of that. Fill your kitchen with healthful ingredients, and you'll be much more prepared to put together a nutritious meal any time.
While Martha may not be able to do your grocery shopping for you, she's happy to offer wisdom to help guide you through the aisles. The following tips will help you determine what to keep on hand and what to look for on food labels.
Look for natural versions, which have no added sugar and no hydrogenated oil -- a source of unhealthy trans fats.
Look for at least 3 grams of fiber and no more than 10 grams of sugar per serving (less is even better). And pay attention to the recommended serving size -- it's likely smaller than what you usually pour into your bowl.
Look for keywords such as "whole grain" or "whole wheat" at the top of the ingredients list, and at least 3 grams of fiber per serving.
Pasta and Rice
Look for the words "100-percent whole grain" on the label for whole-wheat pasta, and 3 or more grams of fiber per serving. For rice, choose whole-grain varieties such as brown, wild, red, or brown basmati; these are higher in fiber and nutrients than their more-processed white cousins.
Look for extra-virgin, cold-pressed olive oil, which is high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and contains disease-fighting antioxidants.
Nuts and Dried Fruit
Look for roasted, unsalted nuts for snacking. Almonds are the highest in vitamin E, and walnuts boast omega-3s. All dried fruits are good sources of fiber and potassium, but cranberries and blueberries are antioxidant superstars. Look for those with no added sugar.
Salt and Spices
Look for opportunities to use sea salt, which is more flavorful than table salt, so you'll need less of it and still get great flavor. Limit your intake to 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day. Use spices to add flavor without adding calories. Spices also increase satiety, so you'll be less likely to overeat.
Look for the shortest list of ingredients and least amount of added sugar and sodium. All kinds of canned tomatoes -- diced, or in a sauce or paste -- will be good sources of the potent antioxidant lycopene, but tomato paste will have the highest levels because it's the most concentrated.
Tuna and Salmon
Look for light tuna, which has the lowest amount of potentially harmful mercury. For lower-calorie versions, opt for those packed in water (although tuna in olive oil has a wonderfully rich flavor). Choose canned wild salmon for one of the best sources of omega-3s.
Look for low-sodium varieties, since canned beans can be high in salt. As a general rule, more color means more nutrients, so red kidney, pinto, and black beans are extra-rich in a variety of antioxidants. But all beans are wonderful (and inexpensive) sources of protein and fiber.
Look for unsalted or low-sodium broths. Opt for organic whenever possible.
Excerpted from "Living the Good Long Life" by Martha Stewart, published by Clarkson Potter.