How to Stock a Healthy Fridge
Redo your refrigerator for maximum nutrition
By Elaine Magee, MPH, RD
Reviewed By Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, LD
You can learn a lot about someone by opening his or her refrigerator -- whether they're hardly ever home, eat takeout often, are a Miracle Whip or Best Foods fan, or live on frozen entrees. You also get a good idea of where they stand on nutrition and health.
If you peer into my fridge, you'll see my chilled staples: Egg Beaters and a brand of eggs that's higher in healthful omega-3 fatty acids; fat-free half-and-half; fat-free sour cream; reduced-fat cheese ... you get the picture. But you'll also see a stash of chocolate chips in the refrigerator door, and a pack of reduced fat-hot dogs in the deli bin.
But enough about my refrigerator! Let's talk about yours.
We've already given your pantry a nutritional makeover. And we can do the same to your refrigerator/freezer. It's probably even more important to redo the fridge, since most of us open it looking for something to eat, make, or bake several times each day.
In helping you choose better refrigerator fare, I had three goals in mind:
Now, let's get to work.
The Dairy Shelf
Guess what? The more fat you take out of milk and milk products, the more saturated fat and cholesterol goes down -- and the more protein and calcium tend to go up!
The trick with lower-fat dairy products is knowing when you've gone too far for your taste. The other thing to keep in mind is that some products taste better than others.
For example, in my opinion, Naturally Yours does the best job at making fat-free sour cream. It actually tastes better than some light sour creams.
And fat-free cream cheese works well as a fat replacement in various cookie or cake recipes, but I wouldn't use it in a starring role on a bagel or in a cheesecake. Light cream cheese or Neufchatel works better in those cases.
Here are some lower-fat examples for your refrigerator:
And don't forget the orange juice! You can buy orange juice fortified with calcium and vitamin D. One cup of fortified Tropicana contains 120% of your Daily Value of vitamin C, 35% Daily Value for calcium, 28% vitamin D, and 15% folate.
The Egg Tray
Various brands of eggs higher in omega-3s and vitamin E are available across the country. Producers have changed the eggs' nutrient content by feeding their hens a different diet. Here's the nutrient info for one type, Eggland's Best Eggs: 1 egg has 70 calories, 4 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 180 mg cholesterol, 65 mg sodium, 25% Daily Value for vitamin E, and 6% vitamin A.