Let's face it: Your weekly (or daily!) run to the grocery store is the foundation for your good health. So it's thrilling news that the supermarket industry is on a health kick--these days you'll likely find organic produce and "natural" packaged foods at almost any store you go to.
But which chains are outdoing themselves to deliver the freshest and healthiest foods to you? And which ones provide the best tools to help you make smart choices?
We asked six prominent health experts (meet our judges) to help us pick the top 10 healthiest grocery stores out of the nation's largest chains. Here are the true standouts. Happy, healthy shopping!
#1: Whole Foods
279 stores in 38 states and Washington, D.C.
We figured this natural-foods chain would make the list, but who knew it would hands-down top it? "It's the Rolls Royce of healthy eating," says Kate Geagan, a nutritionist in Park City, Utah, and one of our judges. Whole Foods has the whole package--from an extraordinary selection of fresh conventional and organic fruit and vegetables to delicious prepared foods with healthy ingredients and clear labeling. (Most other stores offer mystery meals that may very well be loaded with butter.) And Whole Foods puts a premium on products that are grown or produced locally (read: superfresh).
There's also hard-to-find grass-fed meats, ready-to-cook organic and free-range chicken, and a well-stocked selection of just-caught seafood. The desserts are pretty good for you: Every item in the bakery is free of artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, preservatives, and trans fats. Our judges also raved about Whole Foods's snacks, singling out the store's own dark chocolate, fresh-cut veggies, and nut and seed mixes. Alan Greene, MD, a Palo Alto, California-based pediatrician and one of our panelists sums it up best: "The store celebrates great, healthy food from start to finish."
Now find out who ranked #2 to #10.