Whole Foods Market Launches Healthy-eating Initiative

Whole Foods Market has introduced an educational initiative to help guide consumers who are interested in shopping healthier.

Called “Health Starts Here,” the program will run at all 289 Whole Foods locations in Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States, and its goal is the same as the core value added to the grocer’s mission in October 2009: “Promoting the health of our stakeholders through healthy eating education.” Health Starts Here is the first major program to be launched at Whole Foods since the adoption of this newest core value.

“We opened our first store 30 years ago to provide natural foods as a delicious and healthy alternative to the increasing amounts of highly processed foods with artificial ingredients,” said Margaret Wittenberg, global VP of quality standards and leader of Health Starts Here at Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods. “Over the years, we realized that providing the healthiest foods available is simply not enough. We are now deepening our commitment to healthy eating by providing education and support tools to inspire interest in foods that help improve and maintain health and vitality.”

The new program is based on simple principles for everyday healthy eating:

—Plant-based: Focus on fresh vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds. Get healthy fats in moderation from fresh plant sources such as nuts and avocados
—Nutrient-dense: Eat foods with high nutrient content in comparison to total calories. Build menus around plant-based foods to emphasize nutrient-rich meals containing a variety of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants. These foods are naturally lower in fat
—Whole foods: Choose foods that are real, fresh and natural. When possible, opt for food that is organic, local and seasonal. Avoid highly processed and refined foods, and those with artificial ingredients

To complement the program, Whole Foods will featuring two third-party healthy-eating partner programs to provide easy-to-follow guidance for shoppers. Both offer 28-day “getting started” plans while providing plenty of room for personal choices to help those who wish to start their own journey down the road to optimal health:

—Eat Right America’s chief medical officer, Joel Fuhrman, M.D., has discovered through years of research on thousands of patients that a body rich in micronutrients will quickly seek its ideal weight and stay there, while reversing most diet-related chronic conditions
—The Engine 2 Diet is a plant-strong plan that can help with weight loss, lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of disease. Rip Esselstyn, former pro athlete and firefighter, outlines the plan in his “Engine 2 Diet” book and has always taken great interest in achieving optimal health through food

The progam will also feature free information, recipes, in-store lectures, events and support groups. A selection of supporting educational books and cookbooks will also be for sale alongside the “Engine 2 Diet” book and Eat Right America program materials. To help shoppers identify healthy, nutrient-dense foods, stores will post signs with Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI) scores. Created by Fuhrman, the ANDI scoring scale evaluates levels of micronutrients, including vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants per calorie in various foods.

“We’ll promote wellness and encourage healthier lifestyles by emphasizing the value of eating nutrient-rich foods and showing people how simple it can be, no matter what dietary path you follow,” said Wittenberg. “I like to think of it as ‘Take charge, eat well, feel great,’ as eating for health can truly be delicious, nutritious and enjoyable.”
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