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Family Values



It’s a New Year, full of old clichés about change, but what if changing just one thing could matter in a big way? What if committing to one simple concept opened up possibilities you never imagined, because you felt better than you’ve ever felt before? What if it all starts with your grocery list and ends at your dinner table?

Our parents’ own personal journey to better health by way of better food showed us firsthand how changing your diet can change your life. It’s the reason we’re here after all.

The evidence sits on the shelves of our stores, in the quality products that have made a difference for so many people, and in our customers that have stories to tell about the impact a high-quality diet has had on their lives. The beauty of it is in its simplicity. You don’t need fancy gadgets or tools to commit to changing your diet; it only takes a few tweaks to your grocery list and making sure that where you shop has your best interests at heart.

We think these are good places to make those first tweaks:

Nix the sugar

It’s bad for your heart, your brain, your gut, not to mention your teeth. Sugar doesn’t contain a single essential nutrient, but the damage this empty calorie can do over time takes a lot more than a single nutrient to reverse. Sugar needs to go.

Buy organic

Studies have shown that organic produce contains higher levels of antioxidants and lower levels of heavy metals. It is grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, which studies indicate results in no residues on your produce and a healthier ecosystem. Organic agriculture regenerates and nourishes the soil, resulting in healthier plants that are more nutrient dense, which translates into richer nutrient density at the dinner table.

If meat and dairy are your thing, go clean

Choose naturally raised meat and pasture-based dairy to keep hormones and antibiotics out of your food, choose it for the humane treatment of animals, and choose it to support environmentally sustainable farming methods.

Our family passionately believes that diet is the most important aspect of nutrition. We’re committed to having the highest product standards so that you won’t find anything on our shelves that shouldn’t be on your table. We have Nutritional Health Coaches on staff at every store, available for free health-coaching sessions to help guide you along the way to creating your own best grocery list. We also have Always Affordable Prices because our New Year’s resolution has always been to make sure that healthy food is accessible to everyone.

Family Values

P.S. Some of our family favorites when we need a tasty snack are organic roasted and salted pistachios, opal apples, smoked canned oysters, Kalamata olive snack packs, and for a sweet treat without the added sugar, our own bulk unsweetened dried mango. Delicious and nutritious!

Happy New Year from our family to yours!

The Isely Family

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Avocado Awesomeness



Just One More Excuse to Eat Guacamole

If I ever find myself wondering about what to bring as a snack for a party or get together, I fall back on the time-tested party favorite—guacamole. Guacamole is without a doubt one of the easiest party snacks to make, yet one of the most absolutely people-pleasing dishes out there. And the best part? Avocados are incredibly good4u.

The avocado (Persea americana) is a berry fruit (yep, it’s a fruit!) with a dark green leathery skin and a very large seed. The first English-language mention of avocado was in 1696. In 1871, avocados were first introduced to the United States in Santa Barbara, California, with trees from Mexico. Compared to other fruits, avocados contain very little sugar1. One-half an avocado contains only about 0.2 g sugar (e.g., sucrose, glucose, and fructose). The primary sugar found in avocados is a unique and uncommon seven-carbon sugar called D-mannoheptulose which, studies suggest is capable of supporting healthy blood sugar balance and healthy body weight2. The glycemic index and load of an avocado is about zero.

Once ripened, avocados have an amazing creamy texture provided by the type of fats found within. Much of the fat found in an avocado is the same fat that gives olive oil its reputation as being incredibly healthy, and it’s because of these healthy fats that avocados have a reputation as being incredibly nutritious. Oleic acid, the primary monounsaturated fat found in olive oil, actually increases in concentration as avocados ripen! However, it’s not just the fats in avocados that make it so amazing; avocados supply nearly 20 vitamins, minerals and other beneficial plant compounds to the diet3 . Also beneficial is the fact that avocados have a unique unsaturated fat and water matrix that is perfectly designed to enhance fat-soluble nutrient absorption. Clinical research has demonstrated that adding an avocado to a salad or simply serving avocados with salsa, mixed into guacamole, increases the bioavailability of many fat-soluble compounds by 2–5 times4 .

Some of the beneficial nutrients found in avocado include antioxidants like vitamin E, carotenoids like lutein, a variety of B vitamins, which are important for cellular energy production and gene expression, and much more.

Taken together, studies show that different components of avocado can
  1. Support a healthy microbial balance in the stomach5

  2. Support digestive health

  3. Modulate inflammation

  4. Support heart health and healthy cholesterol levels

  5. Support the health of our knees, hips, and bones,6

  6. Support eye and brain health7

Furthermore, avocado eaters just seem to be healthier people in general. Studies show that avocado consumers tend to consume significantly more of key shortfall nutrients—dietary fiber, vitamins K, and E, potassium, and magnesium—in their diet than non-avocado consumers. An analysis of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys from 2001–2006 suggests that avocado consumers have higher HDL-cholesterol, better cardiovascular health, and a healthier body weight than non-consumers8 .

So, you might ask, what are a few good dishes that I can make using avocados

Well, if you are hosting a party, maybe for the upcoming Big Game, I recommend this great guacamole or this sensational spicy salmon dip.

    Meet the Blogger

    Jonathan Clinthorne’s love for nutritional sciences stems from his work in a nutritional immunology laboratory at Michigan State University, where he studied the effects of various diets on immune function.  While earning his PhD in Human Nutrition, Jonathan had the opportunity to study various other nutritional interventions, such as probiotics, mushroom extracts, and omega-3 fatty acids.  He is excited to keep you updated on current research that influences the way that we think about nutrition and food.


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    [1]USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) Avocado, almond, pistachio and walnut Composition. Nutrient Data Laboratory. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 24. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture; 2011.
    [2]Roth G. Mannoheptulose glycolytic inhibitor and novel calorie restriction mimetic. 2009. Experimental Biology. Abstract # 553.1. New Orleans, LA.
    [3]Dreher ML, Davenport AJ. Hass Avocado Composition and Potential Health Effects. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2013; 53(7): 738-750
    [4]Unlu N, Bohn T, Clinton SK, Schwartz SJ. Carotenoid absorption from salad and salsa by humans is enhanced by the addition of avocado or avocado oil. J. Nutr. 2005;135:431–436.
    [5]Castillo-Juárez I, González V, Jaime-Aguilar H, Martínez G, Linares E, Bye R, Romero I. Anti-Helicobacter pylori activity of plants used in Mexican traditional medicine for gastrointestinal disorders. J Ethnopharmacol. 2009; 122(2):402-5.
    [6]Ernst E. Avocado-soybean unsaponifiables (ASU) for osteoarthritis - a systematic review. Clin Rheumatol. 2003 Oct; 22(4-5):285-8.
    [7]Dreher ML, Davenport AJ. Hass Avocado Composition and Potential Health Effects. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2013; 53(7): 738-750
    [8]Fulgoni V. L., Dreher M. L., Davenport A. J. Avocado consumption associated with better nutrient intake and better health indices in US adults: NHANES 2011-2006. Experimental Biology. 2010b. Abstract #8514. Anaheim, CA.
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    Total Health Makeover With Fish Oil



    New Years’ resolutions are hard to keep. It’s true—while nearly half of Americans make them, by early February most have abandoned their good intentions. Maybe you resolved to lose weight, be more active, or just be healthier. Or maybe you are like me, and shun resolutions altogether, but would still like to be healthier in 2017. Here’s a piece of good news for everyone, no matter what your resolution for better health was (or wasn’t): you can be healthier this year, and with little effort. How? Start taking fish oil. It’s really that simple!

    The omega-3 fats found in fish oil, EPA and DHA, are essential for good health. They influence weight, strength and muscle building, mobility, brain health, cardiovascular health, and so much more. There are studies investigating their role in weight loss; chronic pain; learning and behavior in children; diabetes; neurogenesis; age-related macular degeneration; immunity; osteoarthritis; heart failure; and depression.1 So whatever area you want to improve on this year, from head to toe, fish oil will likely help.

    Rev Up Metabolism

    Losing weight tops the resolution “to-do” list each year. And while losing weight to fit into your skinny jeans is a noble cause, the health implications go far beyond looking good. Carrying around extra weight increases your risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even cancer.2 Dropping those extra pounds becomes more important when you consider that. Fish oil can help!

    A number of studies have shown that the omega-3s in fish oil support weight loss, in part by reducing the proliferation of fat cells, preventing the accumulation of fat, and improving insulin and glucose tolerance.34 And now, two new studies have discovered that fish oil can prompt fat storage cells to act like fat burning cells. To explain: our bodies have both brown fat cells and white fat cells—brown fat’s job is to burn fat to maintain body temperature, while white fat’s job is to store fat for future energy use. The studies confirmed that fish oil causes white fat to act like brown fat, which may reduce weight gain in middle age.56

    Maximize Muscle Mass

    Building muscle mass is important to looking and feeling good in your body and supporting healthy glucose metabolism, but it is also important in maintaining mobility and the ability to remain active throughout life. Know what can support muscle building? You guessed it! Fish oil! Studies looking specifically at older adults (60 and older) have found that fish oil supplementation increases muscle mass and improves strength, especially when combined with strength training exercise.78 Much of the research has focused on muscle building in older populations because muscle loss presents such a problem; however, there is also research that shows omega-3s, when taken with protein, increases muscle synthesis in healthy middle-aged men and women too, even when they didn’t engage in regular physical activity.9

    Boost Brain Health

    Okay, so maybe improving brain health wasn’t at the top of your to-do list for 2017, but it should be! What does an unhealthy brain look like? It can manifest as anxiety, depression, addiction, inability to focus, forgetfulness, uncontrollable temper, aggressive behavior, or dementia, to name a few. And the omega-3s have been shown to help with each of these issues. The omega-3 fat DHA comprises up to 30% of fat in the brain, influencing nerve transmission and cellular communication—low levels of DHA can negatively affect brain function. In young and old alike, the omega-3s have proven to improve cognition, learning, attention, focus, and memory. They also have a positive effect on mood and mental health, particularly in depression and stress and anxiety. One study found EPA to be as effective as Prozac in reducing the symptoms of depression.10 And research has also shown that omega-3 supplements reduce both anxiety and stress-induced inflammation.11 The anti-inflammatory docosanoids produced by DHA are also thought to function as neuroprotectins in the brain, protecting brain cells from inflammation and oxidative damage, which are thought to play a role in the development of dementia, including Alzheimer’s.12

    As we move further into this new year, don’t feel guilty if you’ve strayed from your resolution! Look forward and focus on improving whole body health, one step at a time. A perfectly easy place to start is with a fish oil supplement. One survey concluded that each year 84,000 deaths are attributable to low-dietary omega-3 fatty acid intake—start your total health makeover with fish oil today!1314


    [3]Cavaliere G, Trinchese G, et al. “Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids Attenuate Diet Induced Obesity and Insulin Resistance, Modulating Mitochondrial Respiratory Uncoupling in Rat Skeletal Muscle.” PLoS ONE 11(2); Feb 2016
    [4]Liu H, Qiu Y, et al. “A high ratio of dietary n-3/n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids improves obesity-linked inflammation and insulin resistance through suppressing activation of TLR4 in SD rats.” Nutrition Research 33; July 2013
    [5]Kim M, Goto T, et al. “Fish oil intake induces UCP1 upregulation in brown and white adipose tissue via the sympathetic nervous system.” Scientific Reports 5, Article no: 18013; Dec 2015
    [6]Quesada-Lopez T, Cereijo R, et al. “The lipid sensor GPR120 promotes brown fat activation and FGF21 release from adipocytes.” Nature Communications 7, article no: 13479, Nov 2016
    [7]Smith G, Juilliand S, et al. “Fish oil-derived n-3 PUFA therapy increases muscle mass and function in healthy older adults.” Am J Clin Nutr. July 2015;102(1):115-122
    [8]Rodacki C.L.N., Rodacki A.L.F., Pereira G., Naliwaiko K., Coelho I., Pequito D., Fernandes L.C. Fish-oil supplementation enhances the effects of strength training in elderly women. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 2012;95:428–436.
    [9]Smith G, Atherton P, et al. “Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids augment the muscle protein anabolic response to hyperinsulinaemia-hyperaminoacidaemia in healthy young and middle-aged men and women.” Clin Sci. 2011 Sep;(6):267-78
    [11]Kiecolt-Glaser J, Belury M, et al. “Omega-3 Supplementation Lowers Inflammation and Anxiety in Medical Students: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” Brain Behav Immun. 2011 Nov;25(8): 1725-1734
    [12]Dyerberg J MD & Passwater R PhD. The Missing Wellness Factors – EPA and DHA. Basic Health Publications, Inc., 2012. Pg. 39
    [13]Dyerberg J MD & Passwater R PhD. The Missing Wellness Factors – EPA and DHA. Basic Health Publications, Inc., 2012. Pg 34

    Family Values



    He loved collecting seashells and stacks of National GeographicThe New York Times, and The Denver Post. He also loved adding raisins to his omelets and to every kind of salad. She loved walks on the beach and red lipstick. And she loved papaya juice with dinner to help with digestion, her famously cluttered desk, and Häagen-Daz Rum Raisin ice cream. She loved him and he loved her, and they both loved a good cause. Margaret and Philip Isely were passionate people—they believed in big ideas so wholeheartedly that all the cards stacked against them were just fuel for the fire. That’s how it was when they started Natural Grocers—a mountain of cards stacked against them—but they loved so much they just kept climbing. They had discovered the greatest love of all—good health—and they knew it started with good nutrition.

    They knew that all the other loves, especially that lifelong, unconditional kind that you have for family, friends, and community, couldn’t be sustained without good health. They researched and experimented and changed and proved for themselves that for the love of health, the food that you eat is essential. They thought it mattered so much that they wanted to make sure it was always affordable for everyone, and this became their mission—to make nutrition education accessible and healthy food affordable so that everyone in their community and beyond would be able to learn about nutrition and afford healthy food so that they could keep loving themselves and their families. They wanted this mission to spread from their neighborhood to the next and the next—a ripple effect that could take the love all the way from a tiny cottage in Lakewood, Colorado to the ends of the earth if possible.

    That’s why we’re here, because of their love. It’s why we have Always AffordableSM Prices and Nutritional Health Coaches in our stores for free health-coaching sessions. It’s why we host nutrition seminars in our communities, so that you can learn and choose for yourself how to best love your health. It’s why we only sell 100% organic produce and pasture-based dairy and 100% antibiotic and hormone free meats. It’s why we keep certain ingredients off our shelves no matter what, and why we’re always scouring our local neighborhoods so that we can curate the best selection of products that adhere to the principles we believe in: clean, authentic, sustainable, wholesome, and health empowering. Please join us this month in celebrating all the kinds of love, and all the reasons for love, starting with the greatest love of all, your health.

    P.S. Love itself is good for your health! Even doctors say so. A physician once said, “The best medicine for humans is love.” A patient asked, “What if it doesn’t work?” She smiled and replied “Increase the dose.”

    The Isely Family

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    One Simple Way To Protect The Hearts You Love...COQ10



    It’s natural to want to take care of the people you love, and let’s face it—for those of us with loved ones who are, shall we say, stubborn about taking care of themselves, it might be downright imperative. After all, we want our loved ones to live long healthy lives as much for their good as our own. So as Valentine’s Day nears, it seems particularly appropriate to focus on taking care of the hearts you love with the heart-loving nutrient Coenzyme Q10.

    At first thought, Coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10 as it is commonly called, might not seem like such a romantic gift to give your Valentine, but because CoQ10 supports heart health (and so much more) in so many ways, it’s really like saying, “I love you so much I want you to be healthy with me for as long as possible.” And that’spretty romantic and certainly a much more effective means of getting them there than a box of chocolates.

    CoQ10 is a vitamin-like compound that is essential in several key steps of energy production within the cells. Thus, it is most abundant in organs that require a lot of energy, like the heart. When the heart is supplied with adequate energy, it can pump blood throughout the entire body efficiently. Without energy, not only does actual pumping efficiency go down, but cells aren’t able to repair and maintain themselves properly either. CoQ10 also supports healthy blood vessel function, thus helping to maintain healthy blood pressure.1  2 Although extremely important, energy production is just the tip of the iceberg for CoQ10.

    one_simple_way_to_protect_the_hearts_you_love_coq10 During the process of energy production, our bodies require not only numerous nutrients, and fuel in the form of carbohydrates and fats, but also oxygen. While this process allows us to create the energy we need, it is not 100% efficient, and some of the oxygen used is incompletely reduced and instead turned into an unstable reactive oxygen species, a.k.a. a free radical. Free radicals aren’t all bad; after all, our immune system uses some as defense weapons. But when there is an overabundance of free radicals or the body lacks the necessary compounds to protect itself from these unstable molecules, cellular damage can occur.

    CoQ10 acts as a potent free radical scavenger to protect the cell membranes of the very cells it is working to produce energy in. It also helps to protect lipoproteins, the protein rafts that transport fats through the watery bloodstream, with a particular affinity for low-density lipoproteins (more commonly referred to as LDL). Healthy, unoxidized LDL particles help maintain healthy blood vessels, which supports optimal cardiovascular health.3  4  5 In addition to helping to protect LDL, CoQ10 also helps to regenerate vitamin E, another potent free radical scavenger that supports healthy LDL, so we get more benefit from the vitamin E that is available. The free radical scavenging role of CoQ10 is incredibly protective to the heart and cardiovascular system, but the benefits don’t end there.

    While much of the research on CoQ10 has focused on the cardiovascular system, it may also turn out to have health promoting effects throughout the whole body. For instance, CoQ10, in its energy-producing role, appears to support physical performance and improve feelings of fatigue.6 7In its free radical scavenging role, it may help to keep brain cell membranes healthy, which supports mental function as we age.8  9  10

    Although CoQ10 is found in a wide variety of foods, the average diet supplies very little on a daily basis.11And although our bodies can produce it, natural production begins to decline after age 40, making CoQ10 supplementation a good idea. For more details on choosing and using the right CoQ10 supplement for your or your loved one’s needs, check out one of these great articles here or here.

    CoQ10 helps promote optimal heart function, maintain healthy blood pressure, energy production and even helps to protect our brains, which makes ensuring that adequate amounts of this versatile nutrient are available is a great way to help support the health and longevity of those we love, not to mention ourselves. So this Valentine’s Day, show your love in a truly meaningful way, by giving the gift of good health, in a bottle of CoQ10.


    [1]Rosenfeldt FL, Haas SJ, Krum H, et al. Coenzyme Q10 in the treatment of hypertension: a meta-analysis of the clinical trials. J Hum Hypertens. 2007 Apr;21(4):279-306.
    [2]Singh RB, Niaz MA, Rastogi SS, Shukla PK, Thakur AS. Effect of hydrosoluble coenzymeQ10 on blood pressure and insulin resistance in hypertensive patients with coronary artery disease. J Hum Hypertension. 1999 Mar;13(3):203-208. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.go
    [3]Meisinger C, Baumert J, Khuseyinova N, Lowel H, Koenig W. Plasma oxidized low-density lipoprotein, a strong predictor for acute coronary heart disease events in apparently healthy, middle-aged men from the general population. Circulation. 2005 Aug;112(5):
    [4]Nishi K, Itabe H, Uno M, et al. Oxidized LDL in carotid plaques and plasma associates with plaque instability. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2002 Oct;22(10):1649-1654.
    [5]Holvoet P, Mertens A, Verhamme P, et al. Circulating oxidized LDL is a useful marker for identifying patients with coronary artery disease. Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology. 2001;21:844-848.
    [6]Littarru GP, Tiano L. Clinical aspects of coenzyme Q10: An update. Nutrition. 2010; 26(2010):250-254.
    [7]Mizuno K, Tanaka M, Nozaki S, et al. Antifatigue effects of coenzyme Q10 during physical fatigue. Nutrition. 2008 Apr;24(4):293-299.
    [8]Wadworth TL, Bishop JA, Pappu AS, Woltjer RL, Quinn JF. Evaluation of coenzyme Q as an antioxidant strategy for Alzheimer’s disease. J Alzheimers Dis. 2008 Jun;14(2):225-234.
    [9]Ono K, Hasegawa K, Naiki H, Yamada M. Preformed beta-amyloid fibrils are destabilized by coenzyme Q10 in vitro. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2005 Apr;330(1):111-116.
    [10]Choi H, Park HH, Koh SH, et al. Coenzyme Q10 protects against amyloid beta-induced neuronal cell death by inhibiting oxidative stress and activating the P13K pathway. Neurotoxicology. 2012 Jan;33(1):85-90.

    For The Love Of Organics: Citrus



    The scent of citrus is transformative of time and space. Light and tangy, it makes you feel like spring breezes, like summertime lemonade stands, like cozy, winter afternoons with a book and slice of orange pound cake. Enjoy a Ruby Red grapefruit with breakfast, morning sunlight on your skin, and know that the vitamin C packed into each bite is essential for the formation of collagen—which maintains blood vessel integrity, connective tissue and skin elasticity. Squeeze lemon into sparkling water for an instant pick-me-up, and give your complexion an antioxidant-rich glow. Vitamin C, the superstar of citrus fruit, can regenerate vitamin E, which results in a powerful nutrient combo to protect the skin from UV damage and the dulling effect of environmental toxins. It also acts as a tyrosinase inhibitor which may help to even skin tone and reduce hyperpigmentation. So, curl up with a book and a platter of blood orange slices, indulge in the beauty enhancing goodness and let your mind adventure.

    Choosing Organic

    Choosing organic may have a ripple effect far beyond that delightful basket of citrus on your table. According to a study at Princeton University, only about 1% of pesticides reach the pests they were meant for, leaving the other 99% to assimilate into the environment. The detrimental impacts of this could affect everything from groundwater and soil to wildlife and farm laborers who are subject to repeated exposure. Choose vibrant, nutrient-rich, organic produce and let the positive influence of your preferences warm you like the golden sun that ripens your favorite oranges. Lemons are a treasure trove of nutritional benefits, but they also gift us the never-ending fun of finding new variations for a long running joke about life and lemons. A current favorite is: “When life gives you lemons, keep them. Because hey, free lemons."

    Grove of Orange Trees

    An idyllic stroll through a grove of orange trees sounds enchanting, but when it comes to conventional citrus the enchantment ends after harvest. To “preserve freshness while in transit,” the fruit is heavily sprayed with fungicides and other pesticides, saturating the peel with cancer-causing and thyroid-disrupting chemicals. Thiabendazole and Imazalil are the two most commonly used and both are classified as developmental/ reproductive toxins, as well as possible carcinogens. They are also environmental toxins, especially toxic to fish, and Thiabendazole in large amounts can disrupt human thyroid hormones. Imazalil cannot be entirely removed with soap and water and residues of it were found on 90.8% of non-organic tangerines tested, as well as 69.2% of oranges and 39.6% of grapefruit. You probably don’t want a dash of fungicide along with your favorite citrus garnishes, but the solution is simple. When you zest, always zest organic, and keep those orange slice smiles of your after-school snacks as enchanting as a stroll through a citrus grove by making sure they are organic!

    References available upon request

    For The Love Of Organics: Beets



    The cold weather can bring on some major comfort food cravings and there’s no better way to healthfully indulge than with warm root veggies, including beets!The wild beet dates back to prehistoric times in North Africa where, interestingly, only the greens were eaten—it wasn’t until later that people began eating the root as we know it today—but nowadays you can find beetroot at every trendy restaurant in town.Beets are enjoying increased popularity because they are not just tasty and make a beautiful presentation; they are tremendously good for you as well!

    Health Benefits

    If the deep red color of beets reminds you of a heart, it’s for good reason. The unique nutrient content of beets provides specific support for the heart and cardiovascular system.

    Beets are incr