It is important to know how to navigate the aisles of your grocery store. Healthy selections are easier than you think! Shop the perimeter but do not forget about the middle aisles too! Everyone has heard the warning – only shop the outer perimeter of the grocery store! Well, I am here to tell you to consider the whole store and not just the outer aisles.

The fresh produce, meats, dairy and frozen foods are on the outer perimeter for mechanically purposes as the refrigeration, freezers and water are located there. Did you know that frozen foods are harvested and frozen in the field or shortly after picking? A frozen vegetable or fruit will use the freezing process to preserve freshness locking in vitamins and minerals. A fresh fruit or vegetable may take weeks to reach your table diminishing water soluble vitamins such as vitamin C or B (1).

Consider local produce when in season for the best taste and highest nutrient value but when local is unavailable consider frozen or canned vegetables and fruits that do not have added sugars, sodium and sauces. Fresh, frozen or canned can provide the nutrients you and your family need in the diet. Please keep in mind storing any produce too long or overcooking will diminish the healthiest of fruits and vegetables. However, eating produce in a reasonable amount of time and cooking to fresh-crisp doneness will provide the benefits needed from all three available sources of fresh, frozen and canned.

The middle aisles get bad press because the foods are often highly processed. However, low sodium and low sugar products are available in the middle aisles too! The secret is how to read the Nutrition Facts Panel (NFP) to determine your go-to foods. In Grocery Store Aisles, Part 2 will review the NFP information.


(1) Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. Nutritional comparison of fresh, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables. Part 1. Vitamins C and B and phenolic compounds. Sci Food Agric 87:930–944 (2007). Retrieved from:

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