Health Starts Here® Rating System

Eating Well Just Got Easier

Looking for healthier options in the aisles? You’ve come to the right place! We’ve created the Health Starts Here rating system to help you make informed decisions without having to compare hundreds of nutrition labels every time you shop.

Whether you’re just getting started or you’ve been eating healthy for years, we make it easy to make better choices.

We’ve Done the Homework, So You Don’t Have To

The Health Starts Here rating system is based on the most up-to-date scientific research as well as health guidelines proposed by the USDA, FDA, World Health Organization and the American Heart Association.

Our Health Starts Here rating system considers the following factors:

  • added sugars

  • added sodium

  • calorie density

  • total fat

  • saturated fat

  • whole grains

  • animal products

Rating System Guide

Best

These are your most health-promoting foods. Eat them often and in unlimited amounts. They can be up to 100% of your diet. They contain:

  • No added sodium

  • No added sugars

  • No oil

  • No animal products

  • 100% intact whole grains

Better

Eat these foods in moderation and make them a side dish instead of the main dish. They contain:

  • A little added sodium

  • A little added sugar

  • A little oil

  • No animal products

  • 100% intact whole grains and whole grain flour

Good

Eat these foods occasionally and make them a side dish, condiment or garnish rather than the main dish. They contain:

  • A little more added sodium

  • A little more added sugars

  • A little more oil

  • Just a bit of animal products

  • ≥ 50% whole grains or whole grain flours

What is Calorie Density?

“Calorie density” refers to the number of calories in a given weight of food. A food with low calorie density contains fewer calories per gram. In contrast, a food with high calorie density contains more calories per gram. When your diet is composed of foods that are lower in calorie density, you can eat a larger volume of food without consuming excess calories and gaining weight while also being satiated and promoting optimum health.

How is calorie density calculated?

Divide the number of calories in a serving of the food by the weight in grams of the serving food. Both numbers are found on the nutrition facts panel of any packaged food.

Why does the rating system limit animal products?

Animal products in general have a higher fat and calorie density content than whole plant foods. In addition, they contain more saturated fat and cholesterol both of which contribute to many health problems including heart disease and diabetes.

Is the rating system in all stores?

No, not yet. We are testing out the rating system in a few stores in the Southern Pacific, Pacific Northwest and Florida regions. We are pilot testing in these regions to better know how you like the system before launching it companywide.

The Nitty Gritty

 

Good

Better

Best

Sweeteners Added sweeteners < 35% of calories Added sweeteners < 10% of calories 100% fresh or frozen fruit
Added Sodium ≤ 4mg sodium per calorie ≤ 1mg sodium per calorie No added
Whole Grains 50-100% whole grains & flours 100% whole grains and whole grain flours 100% whole grains
Total Fat (if oil is an ingredient) < 35% of calories < 25% of calories No oils added
Saturated Fat < 15% of calories < 10% of calories < 5% of calories
Calorie Density 4-9 calories per gram 1.5 – 4 calories per gram Less than 1.5 calories per gram
Dairy Up to 8 oz non fat OR up to half an egg None None
Animal Products Up to 3 oz None None

Our Nutrition Philosophy

For optimal health we recommend that day-to-day eating habits be based on unrefined, unprocessed starchy vegetables, whole grains, and legumes with little to no added salt, sugar or oil. Include lots of vegetables and fruits. In addition 1-2 servings of higher fat plant foods may be added if desired. If you choose to consume animal products, try a smaller portion—up to a few ounces a few times per week. Or stay 100% plant-strong™ if that is your preference.

Adding some minimally processed 100% whole grain products can help support a whole food, plant based eating pattern. Processed foods, as well as added sugars, added fats (both solid and oils) and added sodium are all minimized or eliminated depending on your personal health goals. Drinking water most often helps you stay hydrated and keeps your body running smoothly. Try to avoid liquid calories whenever possible.

Liquid Calories

Water is the best way to quench your thirst and stay hydrated throughout the day. Other unsweetened caffeine free beverages like herbal teas are great too, hot or iced. Adding a splash of 100% juice to your sparkling water on occasion is a great way to make your own soft drinks and liven up a special occasion. If you chose to drink calories then a smoothie (the entire food blended into a drink) is better than the extracted juice. If you chose to drink juice reach for 100% fruit or vegetable juice and remember one serving is 6 ounces, and that one serving or less is recommended. When drinking your calories, as in juice and other beverages, keep in mind that your body may not be able to recognize that you are taking in calories. It’s easy to consume more calories from these beverages than you need in a day.