Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

Choices Count for Health

Happy New Year and welcome to 2012!

Don’t worry, I’m not going to bring up the R word…you know the one.

Instead I’d like to keep it Real. One thing I’ve discovered while talking to colleagues and friends alike is that being healthy can mean wildly different things to different people.

To some it can mean nixing the usual fries with their burger. To others it can mean blending a fruit and veggie smoothie instead of a milkshake or choosing grilled fish over steak. Sprinkling a bit of flavorful cheese instead of smothering with cheese. Get my drift? If you find it difficult to make one big iron-clad promise (though if you do, more power to you!), consider making simple choices that count. 

Here are some basic healthy choices to keep in mind as you shop for food and prepare meals:

  • At each meal, eat mostly vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes.
  • Avoid highly processed, refined foods.
  • Get healthy fats from nuts, seeds and avocados rather than refined oils.
  • Satisfy a sweet tooth with fresh and dried fruits.
  • Learn healthy cooking methods, such as blanching, marinating, grilling, poaching and steam frying.
  • Eat well without spending all day in the kitchen — keep pre-cut vegetables or fruit in the fridge (don’t forget that you can buy them already cut in our produce department!), frozen veggies in the freezer and beans and whole grains in the pantry.
  • Look for the Health Starts Here® logo to find healthy prepared foods and bakery options in our stores.

Another way to improve your diet is to pack in more nutrients wherever you can.  ANDI scores (Aggregate Nutrient Density Index) measure nutrient density — how many nutrients you get for each calorie — so you can use ANDI scores to help:

  • Eat more foods like leafy greens, colorful vegetables and fruits that have higher ANDI scores, indicating lots of nutrients and relatively few calories.
  • Avoid foods like refined grains and oils, sweets and processed foods that have low ANDI scores, meaning little or no nutrients and a relatively higher amount of calories.

Here are the top 10 ANDI vegetables (that is, the most nutrient-dense vegetables) with suggestions on how to enjoy them:

  • Collards - steam and use like tortillas for wraps
  • Kale - sauté with garlic, onions and a bit of broth
  • Watercress - add to sandwiches for a mild, peppery bite
  • Bok Choy - steam with garlic, ginger and a splash of rice vinegar
  • Spinach - blend into a smoothie for a nutritional boost
  • Broccoli Rabe - sauté and stir into cooked whole-grain pasta
  • Napa Cabbage - shred into slaws and salads
  • Brussels Sprouts - cut in half and pan roast
  • Swiss Chard - slice thinly and stir into soups
  • Arugula - add a little or a lot to spice up salads

You can find more healthy eating tips, menu plans and recipes here.

Do you enjoy some of the top 10 ANDI vegetables? If so, share your favorite ways with us in the comments!

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Sharon Curry says …

Thank you so much for the website. My son started shopping at Whole Foods some years ago. And is still doing so, i wanted to get healthy and not have to continue on medications so i pulled up healthy eating tips and am so excited. I want to change my life style to live.! Thanks for being there "whole Foods". And thank god for my son and daughter-n-law"Tyrone& Lauren. Sharon

Lori Rose says …

I appreciate the ANDI signs that are posted throughout the produce section of Whole Foods. I've often wondered if people notice them and know what the numbers mean. Lori Rose

Jan Woschitz says …

Have been shopping Whole Foods for several years; especially for the organic meats, organic produce, fish and dairy, such as Trader Point yoghurts, as well as enjoying the helpful people that are employed there. (I shop at Whole Foods in the Clay Terrace Center in Carmel, Indiana. Whole Foods have Real Food.) I am not acquainted with ANDI, but will look for it my next trip to Whole Foods. I live in Anderson, IN (40 minutes north of Carmel, so I shop there every 4 to 6 weeks-----and can freeze the meats that I won't be using as quickly. Thank You, Whole Foods.

Bertha jones says …

I M diabetic was just released Dom vhospital due to collocations from the disease so I need to change my eating habits. Suggestions please

Sylvia says …

Great tips!! Thanks. :)

Kim Millican says …

I add kale, the #1 ANDI vegetable to many dishes. I put 2 cups of chopped kale in my morning smoothies with a cup of fresh berries, a banana and a cucumber - so good! I add chopped kale to mashed potatoes and chili dishes to increase their nutritional value. My favorite easy kale recipe is to saute 1/2 chopped onion, 1/2 chopped red pepper and 3 cloves of minced garlic then add a can of fire roasted diced tomatoes, a can of cannellini beans (drained), 3 cups of chopped kale and a few dashes of hot sauce - a super healthy meal in just 10 minutes!

Crumbz says …

I'd love to be able to eat healthy but I'm not familiar with the healthy ANDI foods mentioned. I don't know what is kale, watercress, bok choy, swiss chard, arugula, collars, (unless this is collard green, let alone knowing how to prepare them. Wish I did.

Jerri says …

I use 6 of the top 10 on a regular basis,those are collards,I usually use those in my soup either by juicing them and making them into part of my stock or by cutting them up as a vegetable.I use kale in my salads sometimes and sometimes in the same way as I do the collards.Of course I use watercress as a salad green as well.Spinach as far as I'm concerned is indeed good in smoothies, salads,soups and I even put it in my pasta sauce too sometimes.Brussel sprouts I have always loved.I even converted my husband into liking them as well,by roasting them with extra virgin olive oil,garlic powder and freshly ground black pepper or another seasoning.Arugula I basically use in salads with warm cannelini beans or other salad ingredients.

Ann Arnold says …

I've become a kale enthusiast, too. I like to cut out most of the stalk part, then cut each leaf in thin strips, which I add this to vegetable soups. I start the soup with a small amount of healthy oil and saute 1T turmeric, 1/2 T cumin, 1 tsp cardamon then add shallots, cubed extra-firm tofu, celery. Then add chicken broth, diced squash, and a cubed sweet potato -- or -- some barley (all organic if possible). I add the kale strips last after all the other ingredients have cooked for about 30 minutes. The kale turns bright green and adds great texture to the soup.