The 8 Healthiest (and 8 Unhealthiest) Foods at Costco
Costco’s a great spot to shop for food, but some of their food options are definitely better for you than others!
Healthy: Fresh and frozen fruits and veggies
Whether fresh or frozen, Costco’s fruit and veggie selection hosts plenty of fiber and vitamins, and they’re convenient for the price. Meg O’Rourke, RD-LDN, specifically likes Kirkland Signature Three Berry Blend. It is a great source of vitamin K, fiber, and antioxidants. “They are the perfect addition to smoothies, yogurts, or even my personal favorite, as a frozen treat for the summer,” she says. Find out more Kirkland items you should definitely buy at Costco.
Dr. John La Puma, nutritionist and author of ChefMD’s Big Book of Culinary Medicine, likes to avoid this aisle altogether. Everything looks so delicious, but most of the bread products Costco sells are low in fiber with only a few exceptions. Most of the bread is incredibly processed and has high calories, with little to no dietary benefit.
Healthy: Whole grain bread
The exception? Whole grain bread! Rachel Fine, registered dietician and founder of To The Pointe Nutrition, loves Dave’s Killer Bread, an organic, whole grain option that is both delicious and healthy. Where you can find some nutritious finds like this one may be one of the secrets Costco employees won’t tell you.
Unhealthy: Processed snack foods
Top on licensed dietician and nutritionist Amanda Kostro Miller‘s list of unhealthy foods to limit or control from Costco? Any of their processed snack foods. Most contain lots of fat, sodium, and sugar and not a lot of nutrition. Some of her picks for the worst offenders: cheesy puffs, peanut butter cheese crackers, cheesy or caramel popcorn, and chips.
Healthy: Nuts and seeds
A great substitution for those unhealthy snacks is one of Costco’s massive-sized bags of nuts! One of the most affordable ways to buy some of the pricier nuts is in bulk, which is why almost all the nutritionists we spoke to mentioned them. Nuts are full of fiber, protein, and healthy fats, all of which will work together to keep your hunger at bay. Fine added that she likes to stock up on pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, and flax seeds from Costco as well. There is a reason nuts made the list of 15 foods nutritionists always buy at Costco.
Unhealthy: Bakery items
Unfortunately, the pre-made bakery items are also on top of the unhealthy list. O’Rourke specifically points out Kirkland Signature Butter Croissants, which are 45 percent fat and tout only a single gram of fiber.
Healthy: Fresh whole cuts of meat
The good news? That entire section of fresh, whole cuts of meat is fair game! A huge source of protein, iron, and vitamins, just about anything from Costco’s huge selection of fresh meat at bargain prices is a great choice! While it’s usually cheaper to buy in bulk, sometimes a little extra saving can go a long way. Be sure to use these 13 tips frequent Costco shoppers keep to themselves the next time you shop to save as much money as possible.
Unhealthy: Processed meats
You know the drill. The more processed a food selection is, the more additives it has. And while that is not necessarily a bad thing, it generally means more fat, more sodium, more nitrates, and more preservatives. A few to steer clear of: bologna, salami, and cured deli meat.
Healthy: Canned tuna, chicken, and salmon
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While more processed than the fresh whole cuts, canned tuna, chicken, and salmon still host enough benefits to outweigh anything negative that is being added in the processing process. The protein and convenience offered with these options made Kostro Miller give them a thumbs up.
Unhealthy: Pre-made pantry goods
Pre-made/processed pantry goods like canned ravioli, Hamburger Helper, or box goods that have pre-made, powdered sauces tend to have a lot of fat, sodium, and preservatives. Besides, with all the fresh food Costco offers at affordable prices, it can be easy and inexpensive to make your own! Not everything at Costco will save you money, however. Be sure to keep these 11 Costco items that are actually costing you more out of your cart.