As you surely know, eating healthy is important for active senior living. Much recent research has shown that diets lower in protein and higher in plant products – fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains – are the healthiest. In light of that information, here are some tips to help you make the most of your produce purchases:

Money saving tips

  1. Rather than purchasing baby cut carrots, opt for a bunch of whole ones. Aside from being more cost-effective, these are actually more nutritious! Just make sure to scrub them thoroughly rather than peel them because a majority of the healthy nutrients are in the peel, which you won’t find in baby cut carrots, which have been whittled down.
  2. Don’t buy pre-cut produce unless you’ll only need a small amount. This is because the prices are drastically different – you could save up to 50 percent by buying a whole watermelon, rather than pre-cut, for example.
  3. Buy things in bulk that keep for a very long time, such as onions and potatoes. Just make sure to store them properly.
  4. Buy local when possible. many times, especially when in the grocery store, it’s less expensive than other produce because it has lower transportation costs.

Health tips

  1. Seek out artichokes if you like them. They have more antioxidants per serving than eggplant, red peppers and broccoli.
  2. The smallest tomatoes, including cherry, grape and plum tomatoes, have almost ten times more lycopene than larger ones per ounce. Lycopene is good for lowering cholesterol. Also, the redder, the better!
  3. Diversify your colors of produce, and remember that anything black, red, blue or purple – such as red peppers, purple cabbage or blackberries – packs the most antioxidant punch per serving.
  4. Try to buy at least one selection from the cruciferous vegetable family during each trip to the grocery store. Cruciferous veggies include broccoli, kale, cabbage and arugula, and they have been shown to have myriad of health benefits, including potentially lowering the levels of inflammation in the body.

Finding the freshest produce

  1. If the asparagus is not displayed with its end submerged in water, it won’t be very fresh. A shallow water basin is a good sign.
  2. When purchasing fruits like oranges and grapefruit, choose those that feel the heaviest – it means they have more juice and will be sweeter.
  3. Produce will be the freshest when it is purchased in season. While you can get things like garlic, lettuce and other greens, broccoli, celery, limes, lemons and bananas all year, depending on where they’re sourced from, it will be harder or impossible to find certain fruits and vegetables during other times of the year. For example, fresh cherries and apricots are typically available in June and July, while you can find peaches from May through September. Though strawberries are available all year, they won’t be as fresh, delicious or cost-effective in December as they are in the early spring through summer months.
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