What to skip and swap at the grocery store

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WATCH What to skip and what to swap at the supermarket

Making simple changes to what you put in your shopping cart at the grocery store can result in major health benefits for you and your family in the long run.

Nutritionist Maya Feller shared her top tips for navigating the supermarket, and broke down what to skip, what to buy, and simple healthy food swaps to look out for when grocery shopping that can help you and your family to lead a healthier lifestyle.

"I always recommend looking to whole and minimally processed foods," Feller told ABC News. "I also push plants, plants, plants."

Feller said she recommends re-framing how you think about your meals, and advocates for thinking about vegetables as your main dish and preparing meats, chicken and seafood as the side dishes.

What to skip

1. Processed, pre-made, meals

These ready-made meals tend to be higher in sodium, saturated fats, added sugars and other preservatives. Excess sodium can increase the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, and high intakes of saturated fat has been associated with an increased risk of developing heart disease, according to Feller. In addition, added sugars can be pro-inflammatory and increase the risk of diet-related chronic illnesses.

2. Pre-packaged oats with added sugars

Pre-packaged oats with added sugars tend to be higher in calories when compared to plain oatmeal, and give an inappropriate amount of added sugars that your body does not need, Feller told ABC News.

3. Packaged foods with hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats

Feller advises avoiding hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils -- which are typically used to increase the shelf life of packaged products -- as they can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.

4. Deli meats and processed meats

Feller recommends skipping deli and processed meats as much as possible, as some are high in sodium and fat. Plus, processed meats – particularly those that have been preserved or flavored through salting, curing, fermenting and smoking – have been identified as carcinogenic by the World Health Organization.

5. Refined grains

Refined grains often have fewer nutrients and are usually higher on the Glycemic Index when compared to whole grains, according to Feller.

What to buy

1. Bean-based pasta

Pasta made out of red bean, chickpeas, lentils, or other beans tend to be higher in fiber and have more vitamins and minerals than refined pasta.

2. Sprouted grain breads

Feller recommends buying sprouted grain bread instead of white bread, as it tends to have more vitamins and minerals.

3. Cold pressed oils

These oil variety tent to contain high amounts of mono-saturated fatty acids and antioxidants.

4. A variety of non-starchy vegetables

When it comes to loading your card with non-starchy veggies, Feller says the more, the better. Non-starchy vegetables contain antioxidants, accompaniment, vitamins and minerals that are an essential part of a healthy, balanced, diet.

What to swap

  • Swap chips for popcorn topped with nutritional yeast (this provides a cheesy flavor plus a health dose of Vitamin B12).
  • Swap chips for roasted spiced chickpeas.
  • Swap chips for non-starchy veggies (such as bell peppers, cucumbers, french green beans or radishes) paired with hummus, guacamole or salsa.
  • Swap a bagel for a slice of sprouted grain bread.
  • Swap fruit-flavored gummies for 2-4 pieces of dried fruit (mango, apricot, dates, figs).
  • Swap red meat for seafood.
  • Swap soda for home-brewed tea combined with sparkling water.
  • Swap nachos and burritos for a bean-based bowl with non-starchy veggies, salsa and avocado.
  • Swap flour tortillas for corn tortillas.
  • Swap pre-made parfaits for homemade plain yogurt topped with fruits.
  • Swap white pasta for legume-based pasta.
  • Swap stir-fry rice for cauliflower rice.
  • Swap cheese and crackers for cheese with an apple, pear or grapes.
  • Swap a snack bar for a handful of nuts.
  • Swap sour cream for 2 percent plain yogurt.
  • Swap a store bought dressing for lemon juice and olive oil.
  • Swap granola for plain oatmeal topped with fruit and nuts.