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Family Programs >> Family Programs News >> Commissary News >> DeCA News Archive >> Smart Shopping Makes Sense at the Commissary Email this... Email    Print this Print

Smart Shopping Makes Sense at the Commissary

When trying to lose weight, lower cholesterol, manage diabetes, manage blood pressure, or just make healthy choices, shopping for food can be a real challenge. Pick up almost any food in the commissary, read the label and you are likely to see one or more symbols on the label promoting health benefits related to the food. Each symbol indicates that the food may be a healthful choice, yet each symbol has different nutrient requirements.

Information overload on food packages can make it tough for shoppers to decide what to buy and eat, with up to 70 percent of them making quick choices as they cruise the aisles.

The American Heart Association heart-check mark is one reliable symbol that shoppers can look for on foods. The association has two certifications available. One is a whole grains certification available for bread, breakfast foods, pasta and grains and another is the standard certification available for other foods. Foods that have the heart-check mark have to meet food criteria for saturated fat and cholesterol for healthy people over age 2. There are also nutrition levels for sodium of no more than 480 milligrams per serving. To qualify for the grains certification, foods can have no more than one-half gram trans fat per serving, and must contain whole grains, along with fiber. The heart-check mark is promoted as helping to save time when shopping while identifying heart-healthy foods that are available in the commissary.

You may create and print your own shopping list of certified heart-healthy foods on the American Heart Association Web site to help with shopping. While in the commissary, you will also find many other foods that do not have the heart-check mark that can be part of a balanced diet. Don’t forget to add some of these other foods to your list. Planning what to eat and making a list helps to lessen some of the information overload and confusion that can occur while shopping. Sticking to a grocery list can also help your budget, along with the significant savings you get of up to 30 percent by shopping at your commissary.

For more tips and information on healthy eating or other nutrition topics, go to and visit the DeCA Dietitian Web page.