10 Foods That Are Worth Spending More On
It is definitely possible to eat healthily and stick to your budget, but there are certain foods that are worth spending a little extra dough on. While there are many factors that play into what you spend your hard-earned cash on, try to keep in mind that aiming for high-quality, nutrient-dense ingredients will leave you more satisfied with a smaller amount.
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)-certified organic eggs are given feed that is certified organic, free from hormones, arsenic, antibiotics, pesticides, genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), or animal by-products, and the hens are not confined to cages. These eggs are higher in beneficial vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fats and are lower in saturated fat and total calories.
Don’t bother spending extra on cartons labeled “cage-free” or “free-range” because there is no independent third party checking to see if these hens are truly cage-free or have enough access to the outdoors, and the USDA hasn’t even set a standard for companies putting these bogus claims on their labels.
High-quality dark chocolate not only tastes better, it melts better on your tongue and provides a completely different mouthfeel. Higher-quality cacao, and higher-percentage cacao (think 70 percent versus 50 percent) not only has much more intense flavor, it has many more health-promoting phytochemicals too. The better quality the chocolate, the more satisfying it will be, leading to eating a smaller amount, which is better for your waistline.
Most oils you buy are highly-processed, which means during the refining procedure they are exposed to high temperatures that cause their healthful phytochemicals to be destroyed. Also, some companies use a chemical solvent called hexane during the extraction process, which has been linked to nervous system disorders. Unrefined oils have a fuller, richer flavor, making them worth the extra money. The two types of unrefined oils are cold-pressed oil and expeller-pressed oil, and neither undergo deodorizing or bleaching.
Organic Produce from the “Dirty Dozen” List
It is not really necessary to buy organic forms of all produce. Certain fruits and vegetables are much more naturally resistant to pests and are not sprayed with as many pesticides, or we don’t routinely eat their skin or shell (think bananas, coconuts, avocado, kiwi) so the pesticides don’t make it into the part of the produce we actually consume. However, you may want to spend more on the twelve types of fruits and vegetables that tend to contain higher amounts of pesticide residues. The Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen include the following fruits and veggies (buy organic varieties of these): celery, cucumbers, apples, cherry tomatoes, peaches, potatoes, grapes, nectarines, hot peppers, bell peppers, strawberries, and spinach.
Meat and Poultry Raised Without Hormones, Steroids, or Antibiotics
Hormones and steroids that are given to chicken, cows, swine and other animals are linked to a higher rate of hormone-dependent cancers. Additionally, antibiotics given to animals, especially chickens, may still be present in the meat even after you cook it, and scientists believe this is contributing to the growing problem of antibiotic resistance.
Some small farmers and conventional farmers may not be able to afford to go through the process of having their meat and poultry certified organic through the USDA, but they may still opt to avoid using hormones, steroids, or antibiotics. If you don’t see organic on the label, at least seek out those marked that they were not treated with antibiotics or hormones.
Wild salmon, when compared to farmed salmon, contains significantly fewer dangerous toxins such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Wild salmon is also nutritionally superior. It contains more calcium, potassium, and iron (three nutrients Americans tend to fall short on) while having only half the total fat and a third fewer calories than farmed salmon.
Organic Dairy Products
Research shows that the fatty tissues of animals accumulate environmental toxins such as dioxins. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), these toxins increase your risk for cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and diseases of the reproductive system. Although you can’t avoid these pollutants altogether since they are in the soil, water, and air, you can greatly cut your exposure to them by forking over a little extra cash for organic dairy products.
Not only do the same reasons for splurging on organic dairy apply to beef products, there’s an extra reason to pay more for organic, grass-fed beef. Studies have discovered that grass-fed beef is lower in saturated fat (an unhealthy fat) and higher in omega-3 fat (a healthy fat). It also contains more antioxidants such as vitamin E. These attributes of grass-fed beef mean it can fight inflammation and boost your heart health.
Traditional Balsamic Vinegar
Real balsamic vinegar only comes from Modena and Reggio Emilia in Italy, where traditional methods are used, and a special certification agency oversees the entire production process. It may carry a more expensive price tag, but traditional balsamic vinegar will be bursting with sweet, rich, complex flavor and aroma and a velvety texture. You may notice notes of molasses, chocolate, cherry, fig or prune, and it may have a slightly smoky flavor. The wood in which the vinegar is matured imparts distinct flavors.
Traditional balsamic vinegar will always be labeled Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale and will carry a “Denominazione di Origine Protetta” (D.O.P) stamp. This is a European Union certification that guarantees the production, place of origin, and—most importantly—quality of an ingredient. Since traditional balsamic from Modena is only sold in 100 mL bulb-shaped bottles and traditional balsamic from Reggio Emilia is only sold in 100 mL inverted-tulip shaped bottles, make sure to look for these.
Most coffee you find at your typical supermarket is cheaply made and has a bitter taste. High-quality coffee, which has a much smoother, robust, complex flavor and mouth-feel, is made from 100% Arabica beans. Gourmet coffee beans offer their own depths of flavor and are even paired with specific foods, much like fine wine. Higher-quality beans and a better roasting process, along with paying fair wages to those harvesting the beans and using environmentally-friendly practices, results in a higher cost but it is absolutely worth it when you experience that first supremely satisfying sip.