What to Buy at Whole Foods, According to Dietitians

Don't just wing it at the grocery store. Seek out some of the best Whole Foods products approved by dietitians themselves.

The first time you walk into a Whole Foods Market, you'll know you've hit a goldmine for nutritious eats. The upscale grocery chain offers a mix of staple produce and novel fruits and veggies; dozens of nut butters, cereals, and snacks; sustainably sourced proteins; and too many pantry items to count. When you don't want to head to the store IRL, you can even browse through and order thousands of Whole Foods' items online through your Amazon Prime account. All these options can make shopping for weekly groceries seriously overwhelming.

whole foods market foods, including almond butter, albacore tuna, pilaf, and black beans in a shopping basket
Getty Images / Whole Foods

To help you spend less time perusing the (virtual or IRL) aisles and more time noshing on your haul, three registered dietitians shared ideas on what to buy at Whole Foods.

Whole Foods List #1

The dietitian: Keri Gans, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.N, a registered dietitian nutritionist and yoga teacher.

365 Canned Wild Tuna

This first pick on Gans' list of what to buy at Whole Foods packs a whopping 25 grams of protein and 35 percent of the daily value for vitamin D, a nutrient that helps your body absorb calcium to create strong bones and isn't easily found in most foods, she explains. Plus, the five-ounce Whole Foods can (Buy It, $13 for 6, amazon.com) is "sustainable seafood certified" by the Marine Stewardship Council, which means it comes from a fishery that caught the tuna in ways that maintained the long-term health of the species and the well-being of the ocean. To get its muscle- and bone-boosting nutrients, add it to a sandwich with your favorite fixings or incorporate it into a mixed green or pasta salad, suggests Gans.

Fresh Cherries

If you're shopping in the summer months, make sure to stock up on fresh bing and rainier cherries (price varies), which are in season from May through August, says Gans. "Cherries are rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties which may help boost your immune system and decrease the risk for cardiovascular disease," she explains. "If looking for cherries out of season, I would recommend a visit to the frozen food aisle," notes Gans. Once you've filled your fridge (or freezer) with the fruit, try adding a few cherries to smoothies, chopping them up and incorporating them into a salad, or eating them straight-up.

Dave's Killer Bread Organic, Thin-Sliced 21 Whole Grains and Seeds Bread

Made from a blend of whole wheat, flaxseed, sesame seeds, barley, oats, and more, Dave's Killer Bread (Buy It, $7, amazon.com) packs 2 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein per slice, so you'll stay satisfied long after breakfast. The slices are thinner than the ones in a standard loaf, which makes them get extra crisp when toasted, says Gans, who recommends eating a slice or two with eggs, turkey, hummus, or tuna. "What I personally love about Dave's is the story behind the brand — they believe in Second Chance Employment hiring. The best person for the job [is hired], regardless of criminal history," she adds.

365 Crunchy Almond Butter

Unlike other nut butters, which often contain added palm oil, sugar, or salt, this Whole Foods–brand almond butter (Buy It, $8, amazon.com) is made solely with almonds, so you can enjoy your spread without worrying about overdoing it on saturated fat, added sugar, or sodium. Another perk: "Almond butter can get rather pricey at many stores; however, at Whole Foods, it is quite reasonable," says Gans. Smear a spoonful on toast or whole grain crackers, swirl it into your morning bowl of oatmeal or yogurt, or blend it into a smoothie for a hit of protein and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.

365 Frozen Gulf Wild White Shrimp

This best Whole Foods product doesn't have a certification front and center on its label, but it's guaranteed to be sustainable; the grocery chain only sells Whole Foods Market Responsibly Farmed or sustainable wild-caught seafood. Aside from the frozen shrimp's (Buy It, $31, wholefoodsmarket.com) smaller environmental impact, it also offers 23 grams of protein and plenty of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids per four-ounce serving, says Gans. "Sautéed with pasta, stir-fried with veggies, or thrown on the grill, shrimp can be perfect for lunch or dinner," she adds.

365 Organic Canned Black Beans

Packing 7 grams of protein and 9 grams of fiber per serving, black beans (Buy It, $1, amazon.com) are a pantry must-have, especially for those trying to eat a more plant-based diet, says Gans. "Many canned beans are known to be high in sodium, but this variety is low, with only 85 milligrams per serving," she explains. ICYDK, high sodium consumption can raise blood pressure, upping the risk for heart disease and stroke, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To get those ultra-filling nutrients, toss a helping into your burrito bowl, use some beans in place of ground beef in your Bolognese sauce, or add a serving into an egg scramble for breakfast.

Whole Foods List #2

The dietitian: Rachael Hartley, R.D., L.D., a registered dietitian and certified intuitive eating counselor.

Yolélé Fonio Pilaf

Whole grains are typically rich in fiber, iron, B vitamins, magnesium, and complex carbohydrates, but brown rice and whole-grain bread aren't the only ways you can score them, says Hartley. Enter: Fonio, a protein-rich whole grain cultivated in West Africa. "I've been stocking up on Yolélé's fonio pilafs (Buy It, $6, wholefoodsmarket.com), which make a simple and satisfying side dish that cooks in 5 minutes," notes Hartley. This blend is seasoned with tomatoes, salt, carrot, onion, tamarind, and other spices, so it's flavorful enough to eat as is.

Fresh Salmon

When you're beyond bored with eating chicken, add fresh salmon to your list of what to buy at Whole Foods. The seafood (price varies) is responsibly farmed, packs 17 grams of protein per serving, and offers 1880 percent of the daily value for vitamin D. Even if you're not too skilled in the kitchen, you'll be able to turn the fish into a delicious main entrée. "[It] has a buttery texture that's almost impossible to overcook," says Hartley.

Frozen Pizza

Yes, even frozen pizzas scored a spot on an R.D.-approved list of what to buy at Whole Foods, and Hartley has an interesting technique to take the dish's nutritional content up a notch. "A pizza in the freezer is a must-have for busy weeknights — in our house, we love to make a 'pizza salad' by topping a frozen pizza with an easy salad made from a salad kit," she explains. For example, pile a Whole Foods Spicy Sriracha Ranch chopped salad kit (Buy It, $5, amazon.com) over a Whole Foods Chicken & BBQ sauce frozen pizza (Buy It, $5, amazon.com), suggests Hartley.

Miso Master Miso Paste

To add another dimension of flavor to soups, veggies, and dressings, follow Hartley's lead and keep a tub of Miso Master's miso paste on hand. The ingredient adds a salty, umami flavor, plus some gut-friendly probiotics to your dish, she explains. "Miso Master makes a couple different colors of miso paste, but the mellow white (Buy It, $12, amazon.com) is my personal favorite, as it's the most versatile," she says. "I love to toss roasted vegetables or potatoes with a combination of equal parts butter and miso paste," adds Hartley.

Maya Kaimal Simmer Sauces

Making a curry from scratch isn't exactly an option on the nights you get home from work well past 7 p.m. That's why Hartley uses these pre-made simmer sauces, which will give you a flavorful meal in just 15 minutes. "My personal favorites are the Spicy Vindaloo — which I simmer with chicken, chickpeas, and green beans — and Butter Masala (Buy It, $4, amazon.com), which I simmer with tofu, cauliflower, spinach, and peas," she says.

Siggis 4% Skyr Yogurt

Made from whole milk, cream, and fruit, this pick on Hartley's list of what to buy at Whole Foods offers a whopping 10 grams of protein per container. And that's not the only reason it's satisfying: "I'm thrilled that people are moving away from nonfat yogurt, which isn't nearly as satisfying as cultured dairy that has some fat in it," she explains. When you're in the mood for a creamy, just-sweet-enough snack, break out a cup of Siggi's Skyr yogurt (Buy It, $1, amazon.com) and sprinkle it with granola or toasted coconut chips, recommends Hartley.

Fresh Broccoli

Even if you despised broccoli (price varies) as a kid, it's worth giving the veggie another shot: "It's packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber, as well as phytochemicals that may help protect against cancer," says Hartley. "Because it's a 'sturdier' vegetable, it's great to have on hand if you're one of those people who doesn't always get a chance to go to the grocery store each week," she notes. Toss the broccoli florets with olive oil, garlic powder, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and plenty of parmesan cheese, then roast in the oven until they're golden and crispy, suggests Hartley.

Whole Foods List #3

The dietitian: Whitney English, M.S., R.D.N., a registered dietitian nutritionist and co-author of The Plant-Based Baby & Toddler.

One Degree Organics Sprouted Rolled Oats

Oats may be small, but they pack a hefty dose of protein, fiber, iron, and zinc, says English. Plus, One Degree's sprouted rolled oats variety (Buy It, $14, amazon.com) has a leg up on other brands: "I especially love this product because the oats are organic, glyphosate-free, and sprouted, which increases the bioavailability of iron and zinc and helps with digestibility," she explains. If you're not a fan of a warm bowl of oatmeal, turn the oats into energy balls, grind them up into flour for your waffles, or transform them into plant-based "meatballs," she suggests.

Silver Hills Little Big Bread

Just like English's go-to oats, this Silver Hills bread (Buy It, $6, wholefoodsmarket.com) contains sprouted whole grains (specifically, whole wheat and barley), which increases the bioavailability of iron and zinc — minerals that plant-based eaters may struggle to get enough of since they're primarily found in meat, according to the National Institutes of Health. But that's not the only reason English has it on her list of what to buy at Whole Foods. "I love this bread because it has smaller slices, making it perfect for kids as well as adults, and is still big on flavor, fiber, and other key nutrients," she says. "I use this to make hummus sandwiches for my son's lunch or french toast on the weekend," notes English.

Wonderful Pistachios Variety Pack

For a source of protein while you're on the go, stash a single-serving package of pistachios (Buy It, $7, amazon.com) in your bag, suggests English. "Pistachios are an awesome source of plant protein, fiber, and heart-healthy unsaturated fat, a trio of nutrients to help you stay fuller longer," she says. "In fact, they are one of the highest-protein nuts around," adds English. Since these to-go packs come in honey-roasted, chili-roasted, and salted varieties, you're sure to find something to satisfy your cravings.

Lightlife Tempeh Bacon

Meat-free eaters, this tempeh product deserves an entire shelf in your fridge, offering the same smokiness and crispiness as real bacon without any pig, says English. "These tempeh bacon strips (Buy It, $6, wholefoodsmarket.com) are a staple in my house," she says. "We use them at least twice a week in 'TLT' sandwiches, crumbled on top of salads, and mixed into spaghetti for a flavorful 'meat' sauce," adds English. Don't worry, omnivores will find the pick delicious, too.

Santa Cruz Organics Light Roasted Peanut Butter

English and her family love this Santa Cruz Organics brand peanut butter (Buy It, $6, amazon.com) so much that they polish off at least two jars each week, she says. "I love that this nut butter is organic, natural (meaning no extra oils added), and comes in a glass container so I can pop it in the microwave for easy spreading," she says. To make use of this pick, add a spoonful or two to your oatmeal, smoothies, energy balls, baked goods, and of course, toast, suggests English.

Amy's Kitchen Organic Refried Beans

Even if beans are ranked as one of your least favorite foods, these refried beans from Amy's Kitchen (Buy It, $4, wholefoodsmarket.com) might tantalize your taste buds — at least, they did for English's kiddo. "My toddler often turns his nose up to whole beans, but these refried beans are always a winner," she says. "I use them on top of tostadas, smooshed into bean and cheese quesadillas, and as a side in burrito bowls. They're a quick, easy, delicious dinner option for the whole family," adds English.

Tolerant Organic Green Lentil Penne

There's nothing wrong with eating traditional wheat pasta, but if you want to amp up your plant protein and iron intake, this green lentil pasta (Buy It, $9, amazon.com) is an easy way to do so. A 3-ounce serving offers 21 grams of protein, 9 grams of fiber, and 28 percent of the daily value for iron. You can use it in place of regular pasta in any dish, but English recommends it for mac and cheese and vegan baked ziti.

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