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Ask five different people what a health food store is and you’ll likely get five different answers. To some, it’s the corner co-op full of organic produce and bulk bins, with a little section in the back for incense and henna. To others, it’s a shop that has shelves lined with hundreds of nutritional supplements. And to others still, it’s simply the nearest Whole Foods.
Online health food stores are all these things, too—just without the community bulletin board. Whether you’re searching for a seamless upgrade from a local co-op or just want healthy snacks to munch on, you’ll find an online health food store that will suit your needs. Read our best selections below.
Best Online Health Food Stores of 2021
Why We Chose It: Vitacost has it all—fresh groceries, pantry items, snacks, nutritional supplements, reasonable prices, and frequent sales—in one site that’s incredibly easy to navigate.
Free shipping option
Frequent sales and discounts
Easy to find products
Some standard grocery store items
In 1994, Vitacost started out selling nutritional supplements and organic products via catalog. Now It's a titan of the virtual health food industry, as it's owned by Kroger and is a one-stop destination for fresh groceries, health supplements, beauty and wellness products, and just about anything else imaginable.
Yet even with over 40,000 products available, Vitacost’s extremely shoppable site makes ordering a no-brainer. Only want organic products? There's a filter for that. Avoiding GMOs? Those items are easy to find too.
If you want only vitamins or snacks, for example, the everything-under-the-sun experience of Vitacost may be too much for you. (And it’s all too easy to get sucked in adding impulse items to your order so you can qualify for free shipping.) Plus, some products (Lysol cleaner, Advil capsules) are exactly what you’d find at any mainstream store in America, so if you prefer not to even see those as options, go for another service.
Vitacost’s prices are incredibly reasonable, and you’ll encounter frequent sales and discounts on products. Place one-time orders or set up an account for quick reorders; you can even set up auto-delivery if you don’t want to bother tweaking subsequent orders. Shipping costs vary by location, but orders over $49 receive free shipping to the continental U.S.
Why We Chose It: By working directly with organic growers and taking excess or barely blemished produce, Misfits Market connects you with terrific savings on quality foods in a subscription with practical options.
Helps to reduce food waste
Add-ons of brand-name pantry items
Some items could use better packaging
Not ideal if you like predictability
Misfits Market is known for taking fresh, wholesome produce that traditional grocery stores would reject for being imperfect and sending it to customers every week at reasonable prices. And it only sources certified organic produce, so there’s no nitpicking on your end: Just set up your account, select your box, and get regular deliveries of fresh fruits and veggies.
The Mischief box ($22) has 12 kinds of produce, with one to two portions per type. The Madness box ($35) has 14 kinds of produce, with two to four portions per type. Shipping is a flat rate of $5.50 per week. Want cereal, coffee, or ketchup added to that? Misfits Market carries pantry items as well.
If you get produce fatigue and prefer to pick what’s in your box rather than be surprised every week, you can do that. Check the site for what's in stock.
Misfits Market strives to provide the most low-impact packaging possible, using compostable plant-based bags instead of plastic bags.
Note: We love Misfits Market's mission and what it stands for, but keep in mind that the produce it ships isn't perfect.
Why We Chose It: Combining positive environmental and social intentions with an easily shoppable model, Thrive Market takes the fuss out of shopping with discounted house brands, auto-shipping options, and tons of filters.
Sustainable meat and seafood options
Ability to shop by diets/preferences
Supports charitable causes
Requires email address to see details
Membership can turn away some shoppers
If minimal hassle for maximum goodness is what you’re after, check out Thrive Market, a members-only online store that delivers products to you—and passes the savings along, too.
Thrive Market is a certified B corporation, showing its commitment to sustainability through eco-friendly packaging and careful product sourcing. It also gives to the community through programs like Thrive Gives, which provides free membership to homes in need for every paid annual membership.
Start by taking a quick quiz to personalize your experience. You can filter products by diet (paleo, vegan, etc.) as well as non-GMO, organic, and more. Membership is offered on a yearly basis for $59.95 or a monthly basis for $9.95. Shop through its app or website and enjoy access to the same variety of fresh produce, meat and seafood, snacks, groceries, household items, and supplements you’d find at a brick-and-mortar store, and enjoy savings on house-branded items as well.
Shipping on orders over $49 is free, while orders under that have $5.95 flat-rate shipping. The auto-ship option allows you to set up recurring shipments of your essentials at the frequency that works best for you, and you'll receive discounts on selected items too.
Why We Chose It: The Vitamin Shoppe focuses on selling vitamins and supplements both on its website and in its hundreds of stores nationwide.
Live customer support chat
Online glossary of supplements
Website is a bit busy visually
This is the same Vitamin Shoppe you may know from their 730-plus stores across the country. It started out in 1977 and sells the same supplements, aromatherapy, medicinal herbs, performance snacks, and beauty products online as you’d find in the shops.
Because it specializes in supplements, The Vitamin Shoppe can offer personalized recommendations and a broader knowledge base on the ins and out of supplements than most online health food stores. How do you get maximum vitamin D absorption from your capsule? What’s a good starting dose for melatonin? When you have questions, ask its live "Nutrition Enthusiasts" via chat for help. You can also check the site's online glossary for quick clarification.
The company's Healthy Awards loyalty program lets shoppers accrue spending points to redeem for discounts. Those who spend a lot on supplements may even qualify for free nutrition coaching. Auto-delivery is handy, fuss-free, and allows you to save an additional 10%.
Why We Chose It: NatureBox curates tasty, wholesome snacks to help you stay fueled during the day.
Delicious selection of snacks
CBD and adaptogen products available
Regular infusions of snacks for minimum effort
More expensive than other online stores
If you’re a serial grazer, NatureBox will keep your nibbling both exciting and healthy. The options for snacks are ever-shifting and overwhelming, so NatureBox does the thinking for you. All of its snacks are free of artificial sweeteners, colors, and flavors. Items include dried fruit, snack mixes, cookies, granola, chips, and crackers, plus breakfast options and coffee.
Use the filters to browse snacks that are gluten-free, low in sugar, high in fiber, and more. Don’t feel like messing with that? Try the company's snack boxes, which include the Allergen-Free Box and a Less-Stress Box. Box contents vary from time to time to keep the selection fresh. If you prefer predictability, you can order à la carte.
Members ($30 per year) earn credit and get discounts on products. Individual snacks start at $5.99, and snack boxes are $43.95 to $60.99. The snacks can be a little steep compared to what you’d pay for the same amount elsewhere, but if you value convenience and pre-portioning, NatureBox will likely appeal to you.
Why We Chose It: For those who eat gluten-free or have food allergies, DirectEats was made for your needs.
Products are vetted
Browse by dietary restriction
Lots of info on ingredients and more
No perishables or supplements
Many items are available at mainstream stores
If you have a food allergy or dietary restriction, you know all too well that grocery shopping is not a walk in the park. How can you know for sure that a product is free of allergens?
The folks who founded DirectEats were in the same boat, so they created an online store and stocked it with brands and products you can trust. They’ve scrutinized their offerings for you, so you don’t have to. Find the kind of shelf-stable pantry items that can be trickiest of all foods to get versions of that are truly free of egg, gluten, or nuts. The website offers lots of information about ingredients and brands so you can know exactly what goes into the products and how and where they are made.
DirectEats’ selection is somewhat limited, but if you live with food allergies, your food selection is always limited. This is a good destination for people with restricted diets to stock up on things like baking supplies, pasta, nut butter, and grains.
Whether a health food store is focused on supplements or organic produce, it’s the sense of community connection that draws many in. Online health food stores might not have a physical footprint in your community, but the best ones strive to form a sense of connectivity and belonging, through its sustainable business practices, helpful customer service, member perks, and programs that give back. The selections on our list vary depending on what you're looking for, but they're all a good choice.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Can I Buy at an Online Health Food Store?
Some online health food stores, like Vitacoast, carry nearly everything under the sun, including mainstream items. Others, such as Misfits Market, focus exclusively on food.
Are Online Health Food Stores Better Than Shopping in Person?
A lot of online health food stores have roots as brick-and-mortar businesses from the 1970s. They’ve carried those values and expanded them as they shifted focus to online models. But there are some things an online health food store can’t replace, like personal interactions, bulk food bins, and the potent smell of dried medicinal herbs.
Is It Cheaper to Buy Organic Groceries From an Online Health Food Store?
It’s often surprising how much you can save getting organic groceries shipped to you, but it all depends on the business, of course. Some membership services buy in bulk and pass the savings on to you, while others give you savings for certain items but charge above cost for others. We chose online health food stores that offer good value for the quality items they carry.
First, we considered what constitutes a health food store and made a list of the types of products and services shoppers want from them, whether that's actual food products, health and beauty items, or something else. Then, we divided goods and services various into categories such as nutritional supplements and organic produce. From there, we focused on the sites’ ease of use, product range, commitment to sustainability, options for organic and non-GMO products, and shipping options.