Austin, Texas. (Jan. 20, 2010) —To help shoppers and Team Members who want to improve their health easily and naturally, Whole Foods Market, a leader in natural and organic foods, announced today that it has launched its “Health Starts Here” initiative at all 289 locations in Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States.

“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,” says Margaret Wittenberg, global vice president of quality standards and leader of Health Starts Here at Whole Foods Market. “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.”


Health Starts Here is the first major program to be launched since Whole Foods Market added a new core value to its mission in October 2009:

Promoting the health of our stakeholders through healthy eating education.”

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

  • Plant-Strong –

    Eat more plants, like raw and cooked vegetables, fruits, legumes and beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains to ensure the best nutrients for the body, which leads to feeling satiated

  • Whole Foods

    – Choose foods that are real, fresh, natural, organic, local,    seasonal and unprocessed. Eliminate refined, highly processed foods and foods containing ingredients void of nutrients, such as artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, sweeteners and hydrogenated fats.

  • Healthy Fats

    – Get healthy fats from plant sources, such as nuts and avocados. Minimize extracted oils and processed fats. If eating a diet that includes animal products, choose leaner meats and seafood as well as low-fat dairy products.

  • Nutrient Dense

    – Choose foods that are rich in nutrients when compared to their total caloric content. Build menus around plant-based foods to emphasize nutrient-rich meals containing a variety of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants.

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

Healthy Eating Partners

Whole Foods Market is featuring two unique third-party healthy eating partner programs to provide easy-to-follow guidance for shoppers and Team Members. Both offer 28-day “getting started” plans while providing plenty of room for personal choices to help those who are interested in starting on their own journey down the road to optimum 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. He has also equipped patients with eating plans to help improve their overall health, conquer food cravings, reverse chronic conditions and have more energy. The secrets of superior nutrition, along with many menus and delicious recipes, are offered in a series of books, including “Eat for Health,” as well as audio CDs and DVDs. Also available at Whole Foods Market, or online at, is Eat Right America’s personalized nutritional assessment tool, called “Nutrition Prescription,” which offers individual nutrition and health assessments combined with personalized eating plans.

  • 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. In his book, he combines the wisdom of some of his medical heroes —including his father, Caldwell B. Esselstyn, M.D.— with the real-life account of Rip helping his former firehouse colleagues change their health for the better by eating differently. The book can be purchased at all Whole Foods Market stores. More information can be found at


In-Store Education

Whole Foods Market will 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 Dr. Fuhrman, the ANDI scoring scale evaluates levels of micronutrients, including vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants per calorie in various foods. The higher the concentration of micronutrients in a food, the higher that food will score. For instance, a serving of kale, a dark leafy green, scores 1,000, placing it at the top of the index, while a serving of soda only scores 1. Individual ANDI scores will be placed on all fruits and vegetables because they are the most nutrient-dense foods.  For departments like meat, seafood and cheese, the top 10 ANDI scores in each category will be displayed. A complete list of ANDI rankings can be found in The Nutritarian Handbook, available at Whole Foods Market stores in late February, and they are available to Eat Right America members online.   “Through in-store signage and education about nutrient-dense foods, including information about how to prepare and incorporate them into your everyday life, we want to help our communities attain optimum health and well-being,” says Wittenberg.

Wittenberg explains, “What I love about eating healthfully, other than feeling great, is that the menu possibilities are endless, and cooking can be so easy. For example, in the morning I may have a fresh fruit smoothie, or a cooked whole grain such as steel-cut oats with fresh or dried fruit and nuts. For lunch I typically have a big salad loaded with several kinds of greens and veggies of all colors, topped with beans, or tofu, finished with a splash of fresh lemon juice or balsamic vinegar and served with a piece of whole grain bread. At dinner time, I enjoy steamed or oven-roasted veggies, along with whole grain pastas paired with a hearty stew or casserole made with beans. Occasionally, the dinner menu includes baked fish or a chicken stir-fry made with lots of vegetables and cooked with minimal oil.”

Shoppers can expect to see information in some stores immediately, while other locations will incorporate this initiative throughout 2010. More information about Health Starts Here can be found now at

Team Member Support and Incentives

To reiterate the company’s commitment to its newest core value and its long-time

“Supporting Team Member happiness and excellence”

core value, Whole Foods Market’s Health Starts Here initiative also includes two internal programs for Team Members.

  • The Team Member Healthy Discount Incentive

    offers increased discounts for full- and part-time Team Members (enrolled in the company’s medical plan) who do not use nicotine products and satisfy certain healthy biometric criteria for blood pressure, total cholesterol (or LDL) levels and Body Mass Index (BMI). Team Members already receive a 20 percent discount on purchases at Whole Foods Market stores as an employment benefit, but now, those who voluntarily opt to participate in the incentive plan could receive up to an additional 10 percent discount.

  • The Total Health Immersion Program

    offers Team Members intensive health and wellness education programs geared toward sustaining long-term, positive lifestyle changes, including healthy eating, fitness and empowerment. There will be two rounds of immersion programs offered annually at three different locations in the United States. Participating in the immersion program will allow Team Members, who qualify and who are ready to take charge of their own health, to receive more direct support in making positive lifestyle and dietary changes under the guidance of a medical professional, and at no cost to them.