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One Major Side Effect of Buying Your Groceries at Walmart, Dietitian Says

A limited and in-demand supply of this food can have impacts on your diet and health.

If you're getting groceries at Walmart, the biggest downside might be a limited selection if you're not going right in the morning to get the best quality of fresh goods and a variety of healthy foods.

"If you can't shop first thing in the morning, you may have limited produce options as shelves get restocked overnight and this means that produce gets picked over as the day goes on," says dietitian and Eat This, Not That! medical expert, Lyssie Lakatos, RDN, CDN, CFT. This may prevent you from grabbing nourishing, ripe produce, which can have negative side effects when it comes to sticking to your health and diet plans.

"Eating or not eating produce significantly impacts health, since eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables assists in achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, reducing blood pressure, lowering inflammation, and preventing chronic diseases including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer," Lakatos says.

Related: Popular Foods That Reduce Inflammation, Dietitian Says

"If the produce that remains at the end of the day isn't in as good condition and is wilted or bruised, it will contain fewer nutrients, antioxidants, and phytonutrients," Lakatos says. In that case, choose frozen fruits and vegetables at Walmart instead.

Going the frozen produce route will be much better for your health than filling your cart with items in boxes that tend to be more processed, higher in calories and fat, and lower in nutrients like fiber, protein, heart-healthy fats, vitamins, and antioxidants.

walmart shopping

These unhealthy options at Walmart can also do a number on your grocery shopping budget. As Lakatos says, "Produce, for the most part, can be quite cost-effective, whereas you pay a pretty penny for pre-packed, processed items," Lakatos says.

For example, you could buy a 3-pack of organic romaine lettuce hearts ($3.12) and a 2-pound bag of baby carrots ($1.92) for just about $5 at Walmart, and you'll get a hefty boost of antioxidants, fiber, and phytonutrients while also keeping the calories down.

On the other hand, if you buy a 14- count variety box of Go-Cup snacks of Oreo Minis, Chips Ahoy! and Teddy Grahams, it will set you back $18.40 (roughly $13 more than the produce) and you'll also be filling your cart with a lot of calories, fat, sugar and processed ingredients. Plus, you'll also likely eat these snacks sooner than you think and polish them off in a day or two, which isn't good for your body or wallet!

The takeaway? In some cases, Walmart may not be the best place to get fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, considering how popular the retailer is and how scarce supplies can be. Knowing this, be sure to go grocery shopping at Walmart in the morning so you can have first dibs on all the perishables. That way, you'll get the best variety of options for the highest quality offered.

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Isadora Baum
Isadora Baum is a freelance writer, certified health coach, and author of 5-Minute Energy. Read more about Isadora