If you want to lose weight, it’s critical to eat healthy food. Processed foods and empty calories, from soda to candy to white bread, can make it almost impossible to lose weight and live the life you deserve. But when you adopt a clean, healthy, and sustainable diet, weight loss becomes a lot more doable.
We’re fortunate that Denver, Colorado is known as one of the healthiest cities in the United States. Much of our health is credited to nice weather and easy access to the Rocky Mountains, making exercise not only fun, but available year-round. But health-conscious people also attract healthy food options, and there’s been a boom in the health food industry in Denver in the last ten years. From Natural Grocers to El Five, we have options to eat healthy in the Mile High City that many other states don’t have.
But in spite of Denver’s lofty reputation for health, healthy food choices are still the minority. There are lots of fast food joints and processed food options. That means it’s up to us to find the best food to satisfy both our palates and our overall health.
That’s why we put together this guide of healthy food options in Denver, from fancy restaurants to quick spots to grab a healthy lunch to grocery stores that offer healthy food. In this complete guide, we will outline our favorite food options for restaurants, quick food, and places to shop for healthy food in Denver.
What Makes Food Healthy?
Healthy food comes in many forms. When choosing the best healthy food spots in Denver, we looked for places that offered one or more of the following:
• Organic food
• Vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options
• Whole foods, such as veggies, fruits, whole grains, and wild-caught fish
• Locally sourced food
• Quality ingredients and preparation techniques
In essence, we are looking for foods that are as close to preservative-free and synthetic-chemical-free as they come. We want meals that are prepared traditionally, like they were before the advent of mass-produced, processed foods.
Healthy Upscale Restaurants in Denver
If you are looking for a delicious, healthy restaurant in Denver, there are many great spots to choose from. We have chosen our favorite three healthy restaurants in Denver that offer quality paired with impressive palatability.
True Food Kitchen
True Food Kitchen, located in Cherry Creek, is a great choice for healthy food that anyone can enjoy. They offer vegan and gluten-free options alongside a multitude of meat dishes, appealing to any palette.
While not all of their food is organic, much of it is. They change their menu seasonally, ensuring fresh food from close to home. They have an open kitchen, where you will see everything prepped with fresh, whole foods.
If you are looking for the healthiest upscale restaurant in Denver, look no further than Root Down. They have a whole page of their website dedicated to educating the consumer on their sustainability and healthy practices:
• Over 50% of their ingredients are sourced from within Colorado
• All of their seafood is carefully chosen based on the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch and the Marine Stewardship Council
• They only cook with healthy oils
• All meat is certified humane and pasture-raised
When it comes to making healthy food delectable, Root Down is one of the best healthy restaurants in Denver. You won’t feel like you missed out on anything with their healthy food options. Their ambiance is also excellent.
Located in LoHi, El Five boasts a beautiful view of downtown Denver with huge windows and an open-air patio. Their food is based on Mediterranean cuisine, with special attention paid to sourcing of meat and using organic ingredients. Their dinner is a tapas menu, allowing you to try a variety of their creative dishes, such as goat cheese croquettes and Moroccan lamb sausage.
Healthy Casual Dining Restaurants for Lunch in Denver
Less than ten years ago, the options for healthy casual dining in Denver were few and far between. Now the number of choices is increasing, with more opening every year.
Modern Market Eatery
Modern Market is a casual healthy restaurant in Denver that offers salads, grain bowls, sandwiches, pizzas, soups, and more that are made from simple, whole-food ingredients. With locations across the Denver-metro area, including Denver, Littleton, Glendale, Greenwood Village, Highlands Ranch, Broomfield, Englewood, Centennial, and Lakewood, chances are you’re not far from one of these quick, healthy eateries.
Modern Market offers delivery and pickup in Denver and surrounding areas, and is great for healthy food when you’re in a rush.
Vital Root is a trendy vegan/vegetarian casual dining spot in Northwest Denver. It uses organic ingredients and offers a wide variety of creative menu items, ranging from Bahn Mi tacos to a tasty risotto made from seeds rather than grains.
If you are vegan, gluten-free, or have any other dietary restrictions, this is one of the best healthy lunch restaurants in Denver. They go above and beyond to make sure that any dietary needs are met.
Watercourse is a healthy restaurant located in Uptown Denver and features a vegan menu that will give you the ability to enjoy old familiar favorites like buffalo wings or chicken fried steak prepared using only plant sources. Additionally, this healthy Denver restaurant uses locally sourced food and is free of artificial colors, flavors, and hydrogenated fats.
Native Foods on Colorado Blvd South Denver (with a second location in Boulder) offers a completely vegan fair including remarkably textured vegan chicken sandwiches and vegan ranch. The initial concept was to create a healthy Denver restaurant offering vegan sandwiches, burgers, and chicken fingers that taste remarkably like the real McCoy. But Native Foods has now branched out to include tacos and many tasty and healthy bowls. Native Foods combines relaxed ‘fast casual’ dining with healthy food, making it a great option for healthy food in Denver.
Along Broadway in South Denver, you will find Turtle Boat, a fresh poke restaurant that opened in 2017. Poke bowls are traditionally rice and sushi together in a bowl that originated in Hawaii. This healthy and filling cuisine is finding traction worldwide, with multiple restaurants opening recently in and around Denver.
Turtle Boat is our pick for a healthy poke place thanks to its attention to detail when it comes to sustainably sourced fish. Just ask the manager about how they choose their fish and you will learn plenty about food that is good for you and the environment.
At Turtle Boat, you can pick from a variety of sustainably-sourced fish options (or vegan and vegetarian-friendly options like tempeh and tofu) over either rice or mixed greens, with multiple tasty side salad options like seaweed salad, spicy green papaya, or potato salad.
Big cities around the US, such as New York City, are filled with casual salad restaurants that are incredibly popular during lunch time. MAD Greens has brought this healthy, fast lunch restaurant to the Denver metro area. There are well over ten locations in the metro area, so it shouldn’t be hard to find one near you. They’re a great option if you’re looking for a quick healthy lunch in Denver.
Other Top Picks
Here are some of our runners-up in the healthy-lunch-restaurant-in-Denver category:
The Best Grocery Stores for Healthy Food in Denver
You can find some healthy food at almost any grocery store. But it still may be dangerous if you have to pass through isles of Hershey’s kisses and frozen pizzas to get to that salad you came for. When we are exposed to unhealthy stimuli, we are more likely to give in and load up on food that’s not good for us. So one effective strategy to optimize your healthy food choices is to remove the exposure to unhealthy foods by shopping at Denver grocery stores that focus on stocking only healthier foods.
Whole Foods has a reputation for being expensive. But they were recently bought out by Amazon, and that’s lowered many of their prices. Whole Foods is still more expensive than stores like WalMart, but the quality of their food choices may be worth it. One side effect of more expensive foods is that most of us become more conscious of how much we are buying and consuming, which may help you to decrease calorie consumption.
You will find both organic and traditional options, with labels letting you know where your produce comes from. They do a great job with sourcing fish so that all you need to do is pick out what you want to eat, rather than researching on your phone if what you’re buying is good for you.
Sprouts is a grocery store chain that has many locations throughout the Denver metro area and sells minimally processed products that are free of artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives. Sprouts specializes in organic produce: they carry about 200 different organic produce items at many locations, and produce sales account for approximately a quarter of their business.
Natural Grocers is the top grocery store pick for most health-conscious consumers in the Denver metro area. They are an organic grocery store that’s grown rapidly in the last handful of years. Natural Grocers has nearly everything that you could need, with all of it sourced thoughtfully.
Healthy Eating and Bariatric Surgery
If you’re struggling with your weight, and if losing weight and keeping it off feels like climbing a sheer cliff without a rope, then bariatric surgery may be the solution. Bariatric surgery can level the playing field in your struggle to lose weight.
But even after bariatric surgery, you’ll need to exercise and eat healthy food in order to lose weight and keep it off. After bariatric surgery, you’ll need to eat small meals consisting of plenty of protein, and avoid overly processed foods. These healthy restaurants and grocery stores in Denver can help you to get the nutrients you need without regaining weight.
If you’re struggling with your weight, and diet and exercise aren’t enough, then bariatric surgery can help you to reclaim your life. Schedule an appointment with our friendly team today.