Dr. Andrea Middleton - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Andrea Middleton

Are Great Value Products Bad For You?

Also Known As: Walmart brand, private label



Short answer

Great Value products offer convenient budget options, but their nutritional quality varies. Canned/processed items may have high sodium/preservatives, while frozen foods range from nutrient-rich to calorie-dense. Snacks often contain unhealthy fats/sugars, and baking goods can spike blood sugar. Artificial additives are present but regulated. Cost-cutting may lead to use of lower-quality ingredients. Reading labels, choosing whole foods, and checking for certifications can help in making healthier choices while managing a budget.



Long answer

Evaluating the Nutritional Content of Great Value Products

When we consider the nutritional content of Great Value products, a private label brand sold by Walmart, it's important to understand that this line includes a vast array of items. This range spans from fresh produce to canned goods, frozen foods, snacks, and beyond. Given the diversity of the Great Value product lineup, generalizing the nutritional value of the brand as a whole isn't practical. Instead, we shall dissect the nutritional content by focusing on core categories of products commonly found under the Great Value label.

Canned and Processed Foods:
Canned and processed products are frequently criticized for their high sodium content, which can lead to increased blood pressure and cardiovascular risk. It is not uncommon for canned goods, including soups and vegetables, to contain added preservatives such as sodium benzoate or BPA in can linings, which have been linked to potential health concerns. Let's consider the following:

  • Canned Vegetables: While convenient, they often contain added salts. It's advisable to look for "no salt added" or "low sodium" options when available.
  • Soups and Broths: These products can be high in sodium and saturated fats. Reading labels is key to ensure you're choosing the healthiest options.
  • Processed Meats: Items like canned meats may contain high levels of sodium and preservatives like nitrates, which should be consumed in moderation.

Frozen Foods:
The nutritional content of frozen foods can vary dramatically. While frozen fruits and vegetables can retain nutrients similarly to their fresh counterparts, other frozen foods like ready-made meals and pizzas can be laden with excess calories, unhealthy fats, and sodium. Consider the following specifics:

  • Frozen Vegetables and Fruits: Generally, they are frozen at peak ripeness, preserving their nutritional value. However, beware of added sugars or sauces that can detract from their health benefits.
  • Frozen Meals: Convenience can come at a cost of higher caloric intake and lower nutritional quality. Always check the label for macronutrient balance and micronutrient contents.
  • Ice Cream and Desserts: These tend to be high in sugars and fats. Moderation is key, and seeking out lower-calorie options may be beneficial.

Snacks can serve as a quick energy source, but the nutritional content can significantly fluctuate. High in refined carbohydrates, sugars, and unhealthy fats, many snacks offer little in terms of vitamins and minerals:

  • Chips and Crackers: Often high in sodium and unhealthy fats. Opting for whole grain options or those with reduced sodium could pose a healthier choice.
  • Sweets and Candy: Typically packed with sugars and caloric density without nutritional value. They should be an occasional treat rather than a diet staple.
  • Nuts and Seeds: While they offer healthy fats, fiber, and proteins, portion control is essential due to high-calorie content.

Dry and Baking Goods:
Items such as rice, pasta, and baking ingredients can be foundational to a healthy diet if chosen wisely and prepared with minimal added fats and sugars:

  • Whole Grains: Opt for whole grain options for increased fiber and nutrients.
  • Refined Flours and Sugars: These can spike blood sugar levels and lead to weight gain; moderating intake is recommended.
  • Baking Mixes: Often contain trans fats and added sugars; using them sparingly is a healthier practice.

When evaluating any food product, it's imperative to review the nutrition facts label and ingredient list. Assess the caloric density, sugar levels, type and amount of fat, fiber content, and the presence of vitamins and minerals. The American Heart Association and other health organizations emphasize the importance of a diet low in saturated fats, trans fats, sodium, and added sugars. Remember that the context of your overall dietary intake is key; a single food should be considered within the larger framework of your diet.

Lastly, it's crucial to note that while some Great Value products might offer convenience and affordability, they could compromise on nutritional quality, depending on the item. Making informed choices requires a thoughtful approach to reading labels and understanding the potential health impact of each ingredient. As research evolves, so should our approach to choosing products that benefit our health.

Artificial Additives in Great Value: What's Inside?

When examining the composition of Great Value products, a private label brand by Walmart, it's important to consider the presence of artificial additives often found on ingredient lists. Artificial additives may include colors, preservatives, flavorings, and sweeteners. The impact of these additives can vary from benign to potentially harmful, depending on the type and amount consumed.

1. Artificial Colors: Some Great Value products incorporate artificial colors to enhance the visual appeal of foods. Examples include Red 40, Blue 1, and Yellow 5. These dyes have been the subject of controversy and research, with studies showing potential links to hyperactivity in children. The FDA, however, regulates these additives and considers them safe within certain usage limits. For consumers with sensitivities, however, it might be prudent to limit intake.

2. Preservatives: Preservatives like sodium benzoate and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) are common in some Great Value processed foods to extend shelf life and prevent spoilage. While these additives are approved by the FDA, research indicates that high doses can lead to adverse effects. For example, sodium benzoate has been associated with increased hyperactivity in some children, and BHT has been linked to potential carcinogenic properties when consumed in large quantities in animal studies.

3. Artificial Sweeteners: Products designed to be low in sugar or calories may contain artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, sucralose, or saccharin. While these substitutes offer fewer calories than sugar and are recognized as safe by health authorities, some studies suggest that overconsumption may have implications on gut health and glucose metabolism. It is advisable for individuals to consume them in moderation.

4. Flavor Enhancers: Monosodium glutamate (MSG) and artificial flavors can be found in some savory snacks and prepared meals. MSG has been commonly misunderstood, with anecdotal reports of MSG sensitivity causing symptoms dubbed as "Chinese Restaurant Syndrome." However, the FDA has listed MSG as "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS), and comprehensive reviews have not substantiated widespread claims of negative health effects.

In summary, while the presence of artificial additives in food products is regulated and considered safe at certain levels set by the FDA, the response to and tolerance of these substances can vary among individuals. Particularly sensitive consumers or those with specific health concerns may wish to limit their consumption of artificial additives. Reading labels carefully and seeking whole food alternatives when possible can help in making informed dietary choices.

Cost vs. Quality: The Compromise of Great Value Ingredients

When considering the balance between cost and quality, especially for Great Value products, a well-known budget-friendly brand, it's important to dissect the ingredient choices made to keep prices low. Shoppers often gravitate towards these products with the intention of saving money, but what does this mean for the quality of ingredients you're consuming? Here's a deeper dive into the delicate compromise that often exists between cost and quality in Great Value products.

Firstly, it's vital to understand that cost-cutting can result in the use of more affordable, and sometimes lower quality, ingredients. These might include:

  • High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS): Frequently used in place of sugar to keep costs down, HFCS can be found in a variety of Great Value snacks and beverages. While affordable, this sweetener has been linked to obesity and diabetes when consumed in high quantities.
  • Partially Hydrogenated Oils: Some Great Value products may contain these oils, which are a source of trans fats. Despite a decrease in the use of trans fats due to FDA regulations, they may still be present in certain items. Trans fats are associated with an increased risk of heart disease.
  • Artificial Colorings and Flavorings: To mimic the taste and appearance of more expensive natural options, artificial additives are commonly used. While FDA-approved, some consumers and studies suggest potential links to behavioral issues in children and other health concerns.
  • Thickeners and Fillers: Items like Great Value yogurts and processed foods often contain thickeners or fillers such as carrageenan or maltodextrin to mimic the texture of higher-quality products but at a reduced cost.

Additionally, cost-saving can affect nutrient density. The use of inexpensive bulk ingredients such as refined grains in Great Value bread or pasta can offer less nutritional value compared to whole grain or fortified alternatives.

While Great Value products are subjected to quality control measures to ensure safety for consumption, the long-term health implications of some ingredients used to lower costs remain a discussion point. Experts recommend paying attention to product labels, opting for items with whole food ingredients higher up the ingredient list, and being wary of excessively processed food items, regardless of the brand.

Studies such as those published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics highlight the importance of reading labels to avoid excessive sugars, sodium, and unhealthy fats. Another study from the British Medical Journal (BMJ) underlines the link between highly processed foods and health risks, reinforcing why ingredient scrutiny is essential, even for budget products.

To balance cost and quality effectively, it's advised to compare the ingredients of Great Value products with their name-brand counterparts. This can provide a clearer picture of what you may be compromising on in terms of ingredient quality when opting for a less expensive option.

The Great Value Brand and Food Allergens Transparency

Navigating the landscape of food allergens can be daunting for consumers, especially when dealing with private label brands such as Great Value. This brand, found exclusively at Walmart stores, includes an array of products ranging from pantry staples to frozen foods. When assessing the impact of Great Value products on health, particularly for those with food allergies or sensitivities, transparency is key.

One of the primary concerns for individuals with allergies is the presence of the "Big Eight" allergens: milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soybeans. These are responsible for the majority of serious food allergy reactions in the United States. Great Value products often have labels that clearly identify these allergens in bold or separate statements, aligning with FDA regulations.

In addition to the "Big Eight," it is crucial to consider less common allergens or those not required to be listed by law. While the brand does a commendable job of adhering to labeling laws, consumers should remain vigilant, as manufacturing processes can change, and cross-contamination can occur. Individuals with severe allergies or those who are extremely sensitive should be particularly cautious. Here are some key points to remember when examining Great Value products for allergens:

  • Variability: The Great Value product line is vast, and not all items may have the same level of allergen transparency or potential for cross-contamination.
  • Shared Facilities: Some products may be manufactured in facilities that process allergens, which should be noted on the packaging as a precaution.
  • Voluntary Precautionary Statements: Although not required by the FDA, some products may have voluntary "may contain" statements. These are not regulated and their absence does not guarantee the absence of allergens.
  • Product Recalls: On occasion, products may be recalled due to undeclared allergens. Keeping informed about such recalls can help manage allergy risks.

It must be noted that the exact protocols and procedures for allergen management in Great Value products may not be as transparent as those from brands that specialize in allergen-free products. For this reason, maintaining a dialogue with the manufacturer, in this case, Walmart's customer service, can help ascertain current practices and any changes that may affect allergen exposure.

Research into consumer experiences with allergens in Great Value products has not been extensively documented in scientific literature. However, anecdotal evidence from consumer feedback and online forums suggests variability in individual reactions and satisfaction with the brand's allergen handling. As such, individuals with food allergies should approach Great Value products with the same caution they would exercise with any other brand and base their choices on the most current product-specific information available.

Lastly, consulting with a health professional, such as an allergist, before trying new products when you have a pre-existing condition, is always recommended. They can provide personalized advice and guidance specific to your dietary needs. Remember, while label information provides a foundation, your individual health considerations should always take precedence.

Sustainability and Ethical Concerns in Great Value Supply Chain

As consumers become more conscious about the origins and production processes of the foods they eat, it's essential to delve into the sustainability and ethical practices behind popular brand lines like Great Value. Owned by Walmart, Great Value products cater to budget-conscious consumers, but low prices shouldn't come at a high cost to the environment or societal welfare.

The sourcing of raw materials is a critical starting point when assessing sustainability and ethics. It's important to determine whether Great Value suppliers adhere to responsible farming and manufacturing practices. This includes considerations such as:

  • Reduced pesticide and herbicide use
  • Maintenance of soil health and biodiversity
  • Fair labor practices and worker welfare
  • Energy-efficient production and reduced carbon footprint
  • Minimal water usage and pollution

Walmart states that it is committed to sustainability through initiatives like Project Gigaton, aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in their supply chain. However, the tangible impact of such programs on Great Value products requires transparency and consistent reporting from the company.

Ethical concerns extend into human rights territories. Supply chain scrutiny unveils the treatment of workers, encompassing fair wages, reasonable working hours, and safe working conditions. The Ethical Trading Initiative outlines such expectations, but enforcement is key in ensuring compliance by all suppliers throughout the chain.

For an individual product assessment, it's wise to look for certifications such as Fair Trade or Rainforest Alliance, which may be found on certain Great Value products. These certifications can be indicators of a commitment to sustainable and ethical production practices, although their absence doesn't necessarily imply otherwise. It's the overall patterns and reports that offer a clearer picture of a brand's supply chain ethics.

In conjunction to certifications, independent assessments and audits performed on supplier facilities can give us a more accurate gauge of compliance with ethical standards. Reports from watchdog organizations and non-profits can also shed light on labor conditions and environmental practices in the areas where Great Value sources its ingredients.

It's paramount that research into these aspects extends beyond corporate assurances to include third-party investigations and consumer advocacy reports. This ensures a well-rounded understanding of the sustainability and ethical impact a company's products may have on both local communities and the environment at large. Sustainability and ethical sourcing are complex issues that require ongoing attention and commitment. Consumers can play a role in this by staying informed and holding corporations accountable for their supply chains.

Balancing Budget and Health: Making Informed Great Value Choices

When shopping for groceries on a budget, store brands like Great Value, which is exclusive to Walmart, often offer a financially appealing alternative to name brands. Yet, savvy shoppers may question whether the lower price point reflects a compromise in nutritional quality. Here's how to navigate Great Value products to maintain a healthy diet without breaking the bank.

Understanding Ingredients Lists

One essential strategy is to read the ingredients lists thoroughly. Although some Great Value products may be nutritionally comparable to their brand-name counterparts, others might contain higher levels of added sugars, sodium, and unhealthy fats. For instance, Great Value's canned soups or prepackaged meals can be loaded with sodium, potentially affecting heart health when consumed frequently. Conversely, Great Value organic staples, like beans or whole grains, often contain just one or two simple ingredients and can be excellent, wholesome choices.

Nutritional Labels Comparison

Don't skip the nutritional labels. Compare these with similar brand-name items to spot differences in calorie counts, serving sizes, and the amounts of macronutrients and micronutrients. For example, a side-by-side examination might reveal that Great Value's frozen fruit has the same nutritional profile as pricier alternatives, making it a smart, cost-effective option for smoothies, yogurt toppings, or baking.

Focus on Whole Foods

Opt for whole food options whenever possible. Products like fresh produce, lean meats, and dairy often have Great Value versions that are just as pure and nutritious as other brands. These choices offer a wealth of essential nutrients without unwanted additives. A recent study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests that a diet rich in whole foods can lead to better health outcomes, further emphasizing the importance of this approach regardless of brand.

Navigating Processed Foods

Avoiding overly processed food items is a wise health move, regardless of the brand. If processed Great Value foods are a must due to budget constraints, aim for those with shorter ingredient lists and recognizable items, a practice endorsed by many nutrition experts as a method for selecting healthier processed options. Limiting consumption of these products can help reduce the intake of refined grains, added sugars, and preservatives.

Check for Certifications

Certifications can be an indicator of quality. Look for labels such as "USDA Organic" or "Non-GMO Project Verified". Great Value offers many certified organic options, which are held to strict federal standards and can be a healthier alternative to conventional items. However, it's essential to note that not all organic items guarantee a higher nutritional value (i.e., organic cookies still contain sugar and fats).

Healthy Great Value Specific Recommendations

  • Dried lentils and beans: High in fiber and protein, and versatile for numerous recipes.
  • Frozen vegetables: Flash-frozen at peak ripeness, retaining their nutrients without added preservatives.
  • Whole grain products: Opt for whole grain breads and pastas, which have a lower glycemic index and provide more fiber compared to their white counterparts.

In summary, while Great Value products often provide cost savings, they can vary widely in nutritional quality. By becoming an informed consumer, attentively reading labels, and making strategic selections, you can find valuable options that contribute positively to a balanced, health-forward diet.

Frequently asked questions

Frozen Great Value fruits and vegetables are typically frozen at peak ripeness, which helps preserve their nutritional value, including vitamins and antioxidants. They can be as nutritious as fresh options, especially if fresh produce is not in season or has traveled long distances, which can lead to nutrient degradation.

Great Value does offer a range of USDA Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified products. These options are produced without certain synthetic chemicals and genetically modified organisms, respectively. While they can be a healthier choice due to lower pesticide residues and sustainability benefits, it's important to still consider their nutritional content, as organic or non-GMO does not automatically mean low in calories, fats, or sugars.

Identifying ethically sourced Great Value products can be done by looking for certifications such as Fair Trade or Rainforest Alliance on the packaging. These certifications suggest adherence to certain ethical and sustainability standards. Keep in mind, however, that not all ethically sourced products may be certified, so further research into Walmart's supplier practices might be needed.

BPA (bisphenol A) is a chemical that can be found in the lining of some canned goods, and it has been linked to potential health risks. Consumers who are concerned about BPA should look for canned items labeled as 'BPA-free'. Great Value may have some BPA-free options, but it's important to check the labeling on individual products.

Ask a question about Great Value Products and our team will publish the answer as soon as possible.

Possible short-term side effects

  • increased blood pressure
  • increased cardiovascular risk
  • hyperactivity in children

Possible long-term side effects

  • obesity
  • diabetes
  • heart disease
  • increased cancer risk
  • changes in gut health
  • altered glucose metabolism

Commonly found in

  • canned goods
  • frozen meals
  • snacks
  • dry and baking goods
  • processed meats
  • ice cream and desserts
  • yogurts

Ingredients to be aware of


  • nutrient retention in frozen produce
  • convenience
  • cost savings

Healthier alternatives

  • low sodium options
  • whole grain products
  • fresh produce
  • lean meats
  • organic certified items
  • non-gmo items

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 11-29-2023
Last updated: 12-01-2023

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 11-29-2023
Last updated: 12-01-2023

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