Foods in Supermarket Center Aisles: Healthy or Not?

Sharebtn Click the share button to confirm. Do it now!

Hi Hungry Girl,

I've heard that if you’re trying to eat healthy, you should avoid buying food from the center aisles at the supermarket. What's your take on this?

Stumped in the Center Aisles

The Truth About Supermarket Center Aisles

Hi Stumped,

I've heard that too, and I have to say, I don't completely agree with it. Don't get me wrong... It's definitely a good idea to fill your cart with foods from outer aisles. That's where you'll find fresh produce, lean poultry, light dairy, and other fresh fare. But if you declare the middle of the market a no-go zone, you'll miss out on SO MUCH healthy stuff. Here are some more thoughts on the subject...

It's a little unrealistic to only shop the perimeter of the grocery store. Here at Hungry Girl, we're all about real-world eating advice. And sometimes, we all need easy meal starters (like pouched tuna), quick craving-busters (like baked chips), and grab-n-go emergency snacks (like 100-calorie packs of almonds). So rather than leave yourself vulnerable to the everyday temptation of takeout menus and vending machines, stocking up on smart foods from the center aisles can be, well, smart! Don’t be scared of the supermarket's middle aisles. There's a reason that even natural markets like Whole Foods have 'em.

Those center aisles are stocked with some seriously nutritious finds. Take a deep breath, and get ready for a long list of HG staples: old-fashioned oats; shelf-stable unsweetened vanilla almond milk; pistachios, almonds, and other nuts; quinoa and good-for-you grains; beans; frozen fruits and veggies; nut butters; freeze-dried fruit; that pouched tuna I mentioned... I could go on and on! The middle aisles get a bad rap because people associate them with heavily processed junk food. But as you can see, there's plenty of healthy food there worth adding to your cart.

Just like there are bad choices in the center of the supermarket, there are unhealthy options along the outer section. Ground beef loaded with saturated fat, artery-clogging butter, calorie-packed heavy cream... Not every food found outside the center aisles is good for you. The point I'm trying to make is that hard-and-fast rules like "Only shop the perimeter of the supermarket" and "Avoid the center aisles" aren't necessarily the best way to go. You have to read labels and seek out the truly healthy stuff... No matter where you are in the grocery store.

I hope I've shed some light on the debate surrounding the center aisles. 'Til next time... Chew the right thing!


Share this super-helpful info with all your food-shopping pals (a.k.a. everyone)... Click "Send to a Friend" now.


Today, May 27th, is National Grape Popsicle Day. One 60-calorie Nestlé Outshine Grape Fruit Bar, coming right up!

Have a question for Hungry Girl? Send it in! She answers new Qs each week (but cannot respond to emails personally).

Click here for a printable, text-only version of this page.

We may have received free samples of food, which in no way influences whether these products are reviewed favorably, unfavorably, mentioned with indifference, or mentioned at all. Click for more about our editorial and advertising policies.

*The PointsPlus® and SmartPoints® values for these products and/or recipes were calculated by Hungry Girl and are not an endorsement or approval of the product, recipe, or its manufacturer or developer by Weight Watchers International, Inc., the owner of the PointsPlus® registered trademark and SmartPoints
® trademark.

SmartPoints® value not what you expected? Click here for more info on how the values are calculated, plus more FAQs about PointsPlus® and SmartPoints® values on our website.

Hungry Girl Inc., 18034 Ventura Blvd. #503, Encino, CA 91316