Disease prevention begins at the grocery store with the purchase of food – Peace Arch News

The age-old debate about eating healthy versus eating cheap is arguably harder than ever as food prices continue to rise with inflation – leading many people in British Columbia to put disease prevention on hold.

The World Cancer Research Fund says there were an estimated 18.1 million cases worldwide in 2020 — one of the biggest causes of inflammation, which leads to diseases like cancer, is high consumption of processed foods and red meat, and high salt intake.

Victoria-based nutritionist Sandra Gentleman said that while fast food is cheap, it’s bad for your health in the long run.

A healthy diet includes all food groups, exercise and avoids processed foods, Gentleman told Black Press Media.

Quinoa, couscous, or whole grain rye bread are affordable options, and seeds are often cheaper than nuts and have a higher vitamin E content. Gentleman said canned fish on the bone is an amazingly affordable option because it’s high in omega-3, reduces inflammation, has absorbable calcium, vitamin D, and is a red meat alternative.

Eating fish twice a week is ideal for an anti-inflammatory diet, as well as leaner proteins like chicken, she said, adding that smaller fish like salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel are particularly beneficial for preventing disease.

“We eat for many reasons, including social, nutritional and joyful reasons, and in a society built on convenience, it’s important to think about how the foods we eat may affect us in the long term,” he said Gentleman.

Vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds and beans are great sources full of antioxidants and polyphenols that help a person prevent disease, she said. Meanwhile, colorful berries are packed with fiber and reduce inflammation. Nuts and seeds are also full of healthy fats, also known as monounsaturated fats, which help lower cholesterol and reduce your risk of developing disease.

Gentleman uses an 80/20 rule, which means that 80 percent of the time a healthy diet is followed and during that 20 percent unhealthy foods can be consumed.

The best place to shop for whole foods is farmers markets for the best selection and local options, Gentleman said.

Beans and lentils are inexpensive plant-based proteins with fiber that are great for longevity and disease prevention, while flaxseed, hemp hearts, and pumpkin seeds can be affordable in bulk.

To extend meal prep and ease the grocery budget, Gentleman recommends cooking chicken for the week rather than just a day: roasting some for dinner, setting aside others for sandwiches, and using the bones to make broth for soups.

She also suggests keeping track of monthly expenses and looking for patterns of nonessential items. Other strategies include freezing the week’s meal prep to avoid throwing away leftovers.

The perimeter of the store is where you’ll find most of the whole foods, Gentleman added.

“Look for fresh produce for sale or frozen produce, as this can reduce food waste and still nourish the body,” she said. “Make a list, don’t go shopping when you’re hungry or tired.”

health and wellness

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