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Healthy food and beverages

At Allina Health we're committed to making it easier to choose healthy. It's part of our mission to help people live the healthiest lives possible. In fact, we believe by offering healthier food and beverage options on all of our facilities, you'll see a positive effect on your overall health.

How are we making it easier for you to choose healthy? We've changed our menus and vending machine options to promote and support good health.

Did you know that sugary drinks are the number one source of added sugars in diets? Americans drink an average of 46 gallons of sugary drinks each year. One 20oz. cola has 16 heaping teaspoons of sugar. Just one sugary drink a day increases the risk of Type Two Diabetes by 26 percent and the risk of obesity by 27 percent - and drinking seven or more sugary drinks a week could increase your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.

That's why Allina Health no longer offers beverages that are pre-sweetened with sugar or other caloric sweeteners on our facilities. Instead, we're offering delicious new options because we're committed to making it easier to choose healthy.

Give a healthy beverage choice a try and learn more at allinahealth.org/choosehealthy.

We're making it easier to choose healthy

As part of our mission to help people live their healthiest, we no longer offer deep-fried foods or beverages that are pre-sweetened with sugar and other caloric sweeteners. We are proud to offer healthy foods and beverages that support the health of our patients, visitors and employees.

Allina Health offers these beverages: 

  • water (filtered tap, unsweetened, 100% fruit or vegetable-infused, seltzer, or naturally flavored)
  • 100% fruit juice (optimal 4 oz. service size)
  • 100% vegetable juice (optimal sodium less than 140 mg per serving)
  • milk (low-fat including 1% and 2% and nonfat, unflavored)
  • unsweetened non-dairy milk alternatives (unsweetened)
  • unsweetened teas and coffees

In addition to those options, a limited supply of whole or flavored milk and sweetened non-dairy milk alternatives is available. A limited supply of "diet" or beverages sweetened with sugar substitutes is also available.

Consuming too much sugar has been shown to increase the risk for obesity, diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. Sugar-sweetened beverages are the leading source of added sugar in many people's diets, so drinking fewer of them can have a positive effect on their health.

Deep-fried foods offer little nutritional value and are usually high in fat, particularly the types that are bad for health. That's why our menus feature deliciously healthy options instead. 

Sugary drinks facts: 

  • Americans drink an average of 46 gallons of sugary drinks each year.
  • Just one sugary drink a day increases the risk of type 2 diabetes by 26%. 
  • One 20 oz. cola has 16 heaping teaspoons of sugar.
  • 1 in 3 cancer deaths in the U.S. is linked to excess body weight, poor nutrition and/or physical inactivity.
  • Drinking 7 or more sugary drinks a week could increase your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.
  • Just one sugary drink per day increases an adult's risk of becoming overweight by 27%.

General questions about the Healthy Food and Beverage policy

As part of our mission to help people live their healthiest, we want to model and support the dietary changes that our care providers recommend to our patients. We know behavior change is hard work. That's why we are committed to making it easier to choose healthy options from the food and beverages we offer to our patients, visitors, employees and community members.

Making healthy food and beverage choices can help aid in the prevention of chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, fatty liver disease, heart disease and many of the most common cancers. Starting Jan. 1, 2016, we will no longer offer pre-made sugar-sweetened beverages and deep-fried foods because:

  • Sugar-sweetened beverages are the top source of added sugar in U.S. diets today.
  • Deep-fried foods are usually high in fat, particularly the types of fats that are bad for your health. They offer little in the way of nutritional value while putting you at higher risk for certain health conditions.

While it is true that Americans tend to eat too much added sugars in general, not all sugary foods contribute equally to the problem. Nearly half of all added sugar in the American diet come from sugary beverages. Liquid calories don't make us feel full in the same the way solid food does. When people drink sugar-sweetened beverages they do not compensate by eating less, therefore those calories from the drink become "extra." There is also growing evidence linking sugary drink consumption specifically with the chronic diseases and conditions that many of our patients struggle with and that we see increasing across our communities.

Sugar-sweetened beverages are those that are pre-sweetened with added sugar or other caloric sweeteners. They include carbonated beverages with added sugars, fruit drinks, sports drinks, pre-sweetened and pre-made tea and coffee drinks, energy drinks, and any other beverages to which sugar, high fructose corn syrup, evaporated can juice, honey, sucrose or other caloric sweetener has been added.

Allina Health is promoting the sale of Healthy Beverage choices, which include:

  • Water (filtered tap, unsweetened, 100% fruit or vegetable-infused, seltzer, or naturally flavored)
  • 100% fruit juice (optimal 4 oz. service size)
  • 100% vegetable juice (optimal sodium less than 140 mg per serving)
  • Milk (low-fat including 1% and 2% and nonfat, unflavored)
  • Unsweetened non-dairy milk alternatives (unsweetened)
  • Unsweetened teas and coffees

In addition to these options, a limited supply of whole or flavored milk and sweetened non-dairy milk alternatives will be available. A limited supply of diet or beverages sweetened with sugar substitutes will also be available; however, Allina Health does not recommend them and will be reviewing annually whether they should continue to be offered. This is because research is starting to show they may be bad for your health and because they provide zero nutrition. 

Yes, however, research is starting to show that drinking these beverages may be bad for your health. They provide zero nutrition and Allina Health does not recommend them. Quantities will be limited and may not always be in stock

Yes. We are increasing the healthy choices in our cafeterias and vending machines. Cafeterias will promote healthy options over less healthy options and will price them competitively. Calorie labeling also will be highlighted on food options to help customers make informed choices.

Desserts, pastries, candy and snacks will continue to be available. However, we are changing how these options are displayed and marketed. The goal is to make it easier to choose healthy from the many options available in our cafeterias and other locations where we sell food and beverages (pharmacies, gift shops, etc.).

100% fruit juice provides important vitamins and minerals and has naturally occurring sugar. Sugar is not added during production to increase sweetness. Allina Health recommends limiting fruit juice to four ounces per serving to manage caloric intake.

At least seven hospitals in Minnesota have elected to stop selling sugary beverages, among other food improvements. Health Partners, Park Nicollet and M Health (formerly Fairview Health System) are also reducing or eliminating sales of sugary beverages, as well as making other changes to improve their food and beverage offerings. North Memorial removed its deep-fat fryers a few years ago. Children's Hospital is also reviewing their food and beverage policy and is expected to announce changes sometime in 2016.

These Minnesota efforts are part of a growing national trend. Cleveland Clinic eliminated their deep fat fryers and sugar-sweetened beverages in 2010. More than 700 hospitals and health care facilities across the nation have already made changes to improve the foods and beverages they sell and offer at their facilities.