Did you know that Walmart, the giant discount superstore that sells everything from socks to shower curtains, is also the largest retailer in the U.S.? In fact, Walmart makes up 23 percent of the grocery marketplace.
In between shopping for pajamas and paper towels, you can find some seriously healthy eats under the grocery giant's dedicated Great Value brand. To help you fill your cart with the best options, we asked Rachel Fine, RD, a registered dietitian nutritionist, for the scoop about items she would buy herself or recommend to her clients.
Shop for these Great Value products next time you hit up your local Walmart — all ring in under $8.
1. Great Value 100-Percent Pure Canned Pumpkin
Pump up your menu with this versatile pantry pick. We love it in everything from sweet pancakes and pies to savory pasta sauces and stews. Plus, it's quite low in calories per serving while still being jam-packed with vitamin A — a half-cup provides 245 percent of your daily value.
"Canned pumpkin is a great source of beta carotene," Fine says. "Beta carotene is a precursor for vitamin A, an essential nutrient with antioxidative properties to protect the body from free radicals," the harmful precursors that are linked to aging and inflammation.
- Nutrition facts per serving (½ cup): 40 calories, 0 grams of fat (0 grams of saturated fat), 5 milligrams of sodium, 10 grams of carbs (3 grams of fiber, 4 grams of sugar), 2 gram of protein
2. Great Value Medium Cantina-Style Salsa
Salsa's not just a dance... or for piling atop greasy enchiladas and scooping up with salty tortilla chips. Try this popular condiment mixed into this healthy, Two-Minute Scrambled Eggs dish or as a garnish on salads and grilled chicken.
"With a simple and transparent ingredient list, this salsa also offers a nice dose of vitamin C, which has been shown to modestly reduce symptoms of colds and help us get over colds faster," Fine says.
- Nutrition facts per serving (2 tablespoons): 10 calories, 0 grams of fat (0 grams of saturated fat), 230 milligrams of sodium, 2 grams of carbs (<1 gram of fiber, 1 gram of sugar), 0 grams of protein
3. Great Value Plain Greek Yogurt
With enough appetite-taming fat to make this a real snack, Fine is a fan of this unsweetened dairy star.
"Greek yogurt provides a boost of bone-building calcium and vitamin D," Fine says, and this whole milk yogurt comes with zero additives. Peep the ingredient list and all you'll find is cultured grade A milk with live and active cultures. "Pair with chopped nuts and a drizzle of honey for a satisfying mid-morning snack." And for a tasty dessert, try it in these Raspberry Greek Yogurt Pops.
- Nutrition facts per serving (¾ cup): 150 calories, 6 grams of fat (4.5 gram of saturated fat), 55 milligrams of sodium, 7 grams of carbs (0 grams of fiber, 7 gram of sugar), 15 grams of protein
4. Great Value Sliced Bananas
Freeze! These are the ultimate fruit snacks, made with just bananas on ice. "These frozen sliced bananas offer a convenient option for meals and snacks. Bananas are high in potassium and magnesium — two nutrients that are essential for heart health," Fine says.
Use them for a quick smoothie-thickener or a dessert swap like in this Banana Berry Protein Ice Cream. Or simply dunk the slices in melted dark chocolate.
- Nutrition facts per serving (1 cup): 140 calories, 0 grams of fat (0 grams of saturated fat), 0 milligrams of sodium, 30 grams of carbs (4 grams of fiber, 17 grams of sugar), 2 grams of protein
5. Great Value Part-Skim Mozzarella String Cheese
Say "cheese" — for the sake of your skeleton. "Cheese is also a great source of calcium and vitamin D, both essential to building and maintaining bone mass," Fine says. And it's great for your blood sugar: Eating 1.76 ounces of cheese per day (about two of these sticks) is linked to decreasing your risk for type 2 diabetes, according to an October 2013 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
"String cheese is the perfect on-the-go snack. It's easily packable and can be paired with your favorite whole grain cracker," Fine says. Pair it with a handful of nuts and a piece of fresh fruit for an RD-approved mid-morning nosh.
- Nutrition facts per serving (1 stick): 50 calories, 2.5 grams of fat (1.5 grams of saturated fat), 135 milligrams of sodium, <1 gram of carbs (0 grams of fiber, 0 gram of sugar), 6 grams of protein
6. Great Value Organic Ground Flax Seed
Get your flax fix in a surprisingly affordable way with these organic seeds that come already-ground for easier digestion. "Flax is a rich source of lignans, a powerful phytochemical with antioxidative characteristics. Flax also contains a high percentage of the omega-3 fatty acid ALA, which converts in the body to EPA and DHA, two critical nutrients for heart health and brain health," Fine says.
Toss a spoonful or two into smoothies, oatmeal or muffin batter for a 10-second nutrition upgrade. For a healthy breakfast, whip up this Blueberry Protein Power Smoothie that features flax for healthy fats.
- Nutrition facts per serving (2 tablespoons): 80 calories, 5 grams of fat (0 gram of saturated fat), 0 milligrams of sodium, 4 grams of carbs (3 grams of fiber, 0 grams of sugar), 3 grams of protein
7. Great Value Unsweetened Baking Cocoa
Turns out this zero-added-sugar powder is actually great for you: It's rich in antioxidants and offers anti-inflammatory benefits, per a November 2011 study in the journal Antioxidants & Redox Signaling.
"Cocoa powder makes a delicious addition to nearly any chocolate recipe," Fine says. "Fairly high in fiber and iron, I love to add unsweetened cocoa to smoothies as a way to add a sweet decadent flavor," Fine says. Try it in these Vegan Cocoa Pancakes with Raspberry Smash.
- Nutrition facts per serving (1 tablespoon): 20 calories, 0.5 grams of fat (0 grams of saturated fat), 0 milligrams of sodium, 3 grams of carbs (2 grams of fiber, 0 grams of sugar), 1 gram of protein
8. Great Value Whole Natural Almonds
Go nuts once a day — specifically, nosh on 1.5 ounces, or about 34 almonds — and you'll tame your appetite throughout the day, according to research published in the November 2013 issue of the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
"Aside from being a solid source of protein and fiber — both of which help to keep you full — almonds are also high in vitamin E, copper and magnesium. Pair them with a fruit for a balanced midday snack," Fine says, or use them as a substitute for croutons in salads like in this Almond and Apple Mixed Greens Salad.
- Nutrition facts per serving (¼ cup): 160 calories, 14 grams of fat (1 gram of saturated fat), 0 milligrams of sodium, 6 grams of carbs (4 grams of fiber, 1 gram of sugar), 6 grams of protein
9. Great Value Freeze-Dried Apple Chips
Get your fruit without worrying about it going bad with these shelf-stable apple chips. This sweet snack features Fuji apples and nothing else, offering plenty of vitamins in a low-calorie package. And unlike some dried fruit, freeze-dried fruits have no added sugar.
"I love to add these to salads for a tasty crunch. As a snack, they're great when paired with a source of protein, like yogurt or nut butter," Fine says.
- Nutrition facts per serving (1 bag): 40 calories, 0 grams of fat (0 grams of saturated fat), 0 milligrams of sodium, 10 grams of carbs (1 gram of fiber, 8 grams of sugar), 0 grams of protein
10. Great Value Black Beans
Rich in protein and many vitamins and minerals, these legumes are linked to helping control blood sugar and reducing your risk for type 2 diabetes, according to an August 2015 study in the journal Nutrients.
"In addition to helping the body maintain blood sugar for sustainable energy, black beans are also high in soluble fiber, which has been shown to improve cholesterol levels and promote digestive regularity," Fine says. Toss a cooked serving into soups or salads, or use them to replace the meat in tacos, enchiladas or quesadillas. You can also get creative and try them in this Vegan Couscous Verde Bowl With Black Beans and Corn recipe.
- Nutrition facts per serving (¼ cup dry): 100 calories, 0.5 grams of fat (0 grams of saturated fat), 0 milligrams of sodium, 22 grams of carbs (5 grams of fiber, <1 gram of sugar), 8 grams of protein
- Media Post: "Report: Walmart Continues To Gain Market Share In Most Categories: "Walmart Is Finding Success in the Grocery Aisle"
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: “Dairy Products and the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: a Systematic Review and Dose-response Meta-analysis of Cohort Studies”
- Antioxidants & Redox Signaling: “Cocoa and Chocolate in Human Health and Disease”
- European Journal of Clinical Nutrition: “Appetitive, Dietary and Health Effects of Almonds Consumed With Meals or as Snacks: a Randomized, Controlled Trial”
- Nutrients: “Black Beans, Fiber, and Antioxidant Capacity Pilot Study: Examination of Whole Foods vs. Functional Components on Postprandial Metabolic, Oxidative Stress, and Inflammation in Adults with Metabolic Syndrome”