Your diet is the foundation of your fitness program, which makes your weekly or daily trips to healthy grocery stores extremely important. If you aren't loading your shopping cart up with the freshest and healthiest ingredients, you aren't going see the gains you're looking for. Many supermarket chains have been rapidly expanding their health food offerings, but which ones are outdoing the competition?
Check out these healthy grocery stores that are stocked with the all-natural, nutritious food you need to help meet your fitness goals and keep your meal management program on track.
1. Whole Foods Market
With 420 stores in the US, Canada, and UK, Whole Foods Market is one of the largest supermarket chains. Boasting an amazing assortment of locally produced and organic fruits and vegetables, grass-fed meats, free-range chicken, and freshly caught seafood, Whole Foods is a bastion of healthy eating. In addition to their stellar selection of fresh produce and healthy meats, Whole Foods offers several delicious prepared foods that are clearly labeled and loaded with healthy ingredients.
2. Trader Joe's
While your average store my carry over 50,000 items from bad-for-you mainstream brands, Trader Joe's stocks about 4,000, 80% of which are branded with one of the chain's own brands. The store's impressive and delicious brands of food contain no artificial flavors, colors, or preservative, and no MSG, trans fats, or genetically modified ingredients.
Self described as "your unique grocery store", Trader Joe's products include gourmet foods, organic foods, vegetarian foods, an assortment of unusual frozen foods, imported foods, domestic and imported wine and beer, alternative food items, and staples like produce, eggs, and bread. With 457 stores in 39 states and Washington D.C., Trader Joe's is a leader when it comes to organic and fresh food.
3. Publix Super Markets
Publix sets itself apart from the competition by making healthy eating a family affair. Publix Baby Club is a program pregnant women can sign up for in order to receive special coupons and a newsletter about infants' developing needs. They also have a free FamilyStyle magazine that includes simple tips complete with recipes for cooking fast family dinners.
Publix produces their own brand of fresh and packaged natural and organic foods, which they named "GreenWise". In each store Publix helps guide customers towards the produce that's most in season so they get food when it's freshest and most nutritious. They have also launched Publix GreenWise Market, an offshoot of the main chain that focuses on natural and organic foods. These healthy grocery stores can be found in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Alabama.
4. Natural Grocers
Natural Grocers is a Colorado based health food chain that operates over 90 healthy grocery stores in Colorado, Texas, Utah, Oklahoma, Oregon, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, Nebraska, Idaho, Arizona, Washington, and Wyoming. Their shelves are stocked with vitamins, dietary supplements, natural and organic food, organic produce, and natural body products.
Natural Grocers is also a longtime proponent of consumer education and runs an ongoing free lecture series with nutrition and health experts for both customer and employee education. As part of this education, they have made their "What We Do Not Sell and Why
" manifesto available on their website. This list includes items such as artificial colors and flavors, irradiated food, and meat raised with artificial hormones and antibiotics among others. Each store also makes the services of a free trained "Nutritional Health Coach" available to all its customers.
In addition to the more than 2,625 Kroger stores located in the Midwestern and Southern United States, Kroger also operates many stores under various additional names including City Market, Smith's, Harris Teeter, and many more. Kroger grocery stores feature a nutritious selection of fruits, vegetables, meats, seafood, and a variety of natural foods; including national brands like HorizonÃ‚® and KashiÃ‚®, and exclusive brands such as Simple TruthÃ¢€ž¢ and Simple Truth OrganicÃ¢€ž¢.
6. Fresh & Easy
Fresh & Easy's mission is to save customers time by making fresh and natural food more available and affordable. Stocked with hundreds of new unique fresh products, including eggs stamped with a laid on date, in-store growler program, and the first USDA certified grab & go sandwiches and salads in America, Fresh & Easy grocery stores are delivering on the company's commitment to be a destination for value and products that don't exist at other grocery chains. With 111 stores in California, Arizona, and Nevada, Fresh & Easy is a great option for West Coast shoppers looking for healthy grocery stores.
7. Sprouts Farmers Market
Similar to established mega brands like Whole Foods or Trader Joe's, Sprouts Farmers Market is a chain of over 200 grocery stores that are smaller than your typical supermarket and focus on fresh foods, produce, healthy foods, vitamins, and supplements. Sprouts is dedicated to providing fresh, organic food at prices that make it extremely competitive with their higher-priced competitors. You'll find fresh, nutritious fruits and vegetables, wholesome grains, nuts and sweets, a full-service deli, and meat and seafood counters-complete with handmade burgers and sausages. Sprouts also stocks freshly baked goods, tasty and convenient, ready-to-eat meals, gourmet cheeses, sensibly priced vitamins and supplements, and thousands of natural, organic, and gluten-free groceries. Sprouts Farmers Market serve Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, Kansas, Georgia, Tennessee, and Missouri.
Safeway by all appearances appears to be a traditional grocery store, but if you look closer you'll see signs of a health transformation. Between developing their own organic brands, expanding their produce selection to include locally grown items, and their SimpleNutrition shelf tags throughout the store, Safeway is working hard to help their customers make better nutrition choices. The SimpleNutrition program was developed by registered dietitians and tags designated products with a key attribute (e.g. gluten free, made with whole grains, good source of fiber, etc.) and the number of Carb Choices in a serving. Safeway primarily serves the Western and Central United States.
This East Coast chain has 85 stores located in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Virginia. Back in 1992, they began developing a line of health focused products they dubbed "Food You Feel Good About." These products are created to taste great naturally. Specifically, their "Food You Feel Good About" products are fee of artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives, trans fats from partially hydrogenated oils, and high fructose corn syrup, and only use fresh meats from animals not given antibiotics, hormones, or animal by-products. Wegmans also support their "eat well, live well" mission by offering an impressive selection of over 3,000 organic items throughout their stores.
Bonus: Organic Store Locator
This organic food directory
is a great tool for finding healthy grocery stores near you. In addition to grocery stores, the locator also provides you with list of restaurants that are serving up all-natural, organic food.
Our list of healthy grocery stores focuses mostly on large national and regional chains, but local natural food stores and farmer's markets are also great places to get healthy, organic food for your meal management system. Tell us about your favorite places to shop healthy in the comments section below!