Typical Grocery List (HEI=49)
Improved Grocery List (HEI=92)
For the same amount of money—$100—and nearly the same amount of total calories—about 45,000—the "typical" list is substantially less nutritious and includes many fewer fruits and vegetables, fewer whole grains, fewer beans, and less fish than the "improved" list does.
In the "typical" list, the inclusion of foods that are primarily empty calories (such as butter, soda, cookies, chips, and sherbet) and those that contain some empty calories along with nutrient-bearing calories (such as pizza, cranberry muffins, and cheese) not only drives down the HEI score, but allows much less room in the $100 budget for fruits and vegetables and other healthy items.
The regular1 soda and lemonade beverages in the "typical" list contribute only to the Empty Calories component, and thus drive down the HEI score. Of note, half of the beverages in the "typical" list are diet varieties. The overall HEI score would have been even lower if all of these beverages had been regular varieties.
Choices within HEI components also have an effect on scores. The "improved" list has a higher HEI score than the "typical" list because the milk in the Dairy component is fat-free rather than whole, and the foods in the Total Protein Foods component include beans and fish as well as meat and poultry.