Despite its growing status as a must-see destination, one of the most common complaints travelers have about Colombia is its cuisine. The majority of visitors arrive expecting dishes similar to those in Mexico, bursting with colors and flavors. The reality is somewhat different however. Many extranjeros find the meat, beans, rice, salad, and plátano combo too heavy to eat on a daily basis, and crave fresh, healthy alternatives. Luckily, Colombia is the second-most biodiverse country on the planet (after Brazil), so finding these kinds of foods is relatively easy in the big cities.
Whether you’re a conscious-eater, have special dietary requires or simply can’t face another arepa, here are the best health food stores in Medellín.
Sol Verde is the one-stop-shop for all things health-related. Selling products ranging from supplements, vitamins, teas, natural medicines, and cosmetics, you’re likely to find a whole host of specialty goods here. The chain is especially popular for sports nutrition (customers can buy the likes of protein powder and energy bars) and people with dietary requirements (vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free treats are available too).
The online store is great for buying multiple products in bulk, and there’s also a blog with loads of content around meal prep, beauty regimes, and chemical-free remedies. Alternatively, Sol Verde has a number of stores in Medellín – a full list of the locations can be found here.
Vita Integral Nutrición Funcional
Transversal 39B, Avenida Nutibara #77-40
Sector Milla de Oro, Carrera 42 #5 Sur 43
With two locations in Laureles and Poblado, Vita Integral is a small market with an impressive selection of healthy foods. Items like zucchini chips, vegetarian ceviche, artisanal breads, vegetarian burgers, vegan yogurts, and more can be bought here; plus Vita Integral is one of the few places in Medellín that sells tofu and other plant-based foods. The store is also one of the top spots to eat organically while in the city.
As an additional bonus, Vita Integral has staff specialized in homeopathy, normally on-site to offer free nutritional advice to shoppers. However, the specialists aren’t always available, so it’s best to contact them in advance if you need a consultation about your diet.
Circular 3 #70-39
Another Laureles gem, Naturalia is nestled down a residential street and is a hit with both foreigners and locals like. Although primarily a café and restaurant, Naturalia prides itself on its farm-to-table ethos and selling healthy food at affordable prices. The café regularly hosts food and craft markets, where visitors can purchase locally-made jewelry and snacks. Or, throughout the week, there are oils, baked goods, coffee, and other treats on offer at the counter.
Naturalia is another top pick for vegetarians and vegans and has a brilliant community base. We recommend going to one of their weekly events to meet like-minded people and build your healthy network in Medellín.
Ceres Mercado Orgánico
Carrera 37 #10A-58
Over in Poblado, the Ceres organic market is hidden in the stylish restaurant Justo. Both the restaurant and the market are proof that being health-conscious doesn’t mean compromising on variety or taste. Here, shoppers can browse organic vegetables (including sweet potatoes – a rare find in the city!), vegan cheese, vegan chocolate, artisanal granola, ecological cosmetics, as well as plenty of seeds and nuts. Arguably the best part of the market though, is that visitors can buy fresh peanuts and watch them be converted into peanut butter! Shoppers can even choose the consistency of the spread.
After doing your weekly health shop, be sure to stay for the delicious menu at Justo. If you’re an early bird, the restaurant is one of the best brunch spots in Medellín.
Circular 4TA #70–84
Claiming to be an ‘ecotienda’, the staff at Saludpan are pioneers in conscious, organic, and natural foods. The small restaurant and store has had a big impact on healthy-eaters in Medellín, who flock here to purchase grains, nuts, spices, cereals, fruits, soy and vegetable protein products; along with gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian snacks. The artisanal breads are particularly great, having been cooked via a process that combines grains without losing any nutritional value.
As an added bonus, if you’re looking for a seriously sustainable health food store, Saludpan is the go-to option. The owners are committed to recycling programs, converting plastic bottles and glass into organic waste which is then used for composting and fertilizing their crops.
Moli Productos Naturales
Operating in Medellín for over 30 years, Moli Productos Naturales are experts in well-being. With dietary supplements, natural cosmetics, floral essences, homeopathic remedies, and a diverse array of balanced foods, it’s no wonder Moli is such a trusted brand name. There are currently 11 stores in the Medellín metropolitan area, all which work closely with local farmers and manufacturers to ensure sustainability.
Alike to Sol Verde, Moli’s website has lots of tips about how to stay healthy and happy while in Colombia. The chain additionally has a domicilio service, so you can have your shopping delivered direct to your door.
Tienda Naturista Panorama
Local 112, Calle 54 #47-105
This small health food store in El Centro is more like a pharmacy for alternative medicines. Customers can buy treatments including aloe vera vitamins, cannabis pain-relieving gel, black tea, collagen supplements, weight-loss facilitators, and sexual-enhancements. Whatever you need treating (or boosting), you’re very likely to find it here. Even better, the prices in Tienda Naturista Panorama are exceptionally reasonable, and a visit to this store will be significantly cheaper than the other locations on this list.
While checking out Tienda Naturista Panorama, there a few more health stores within walking distance that are worth going to – Tienda Naturista Los Auces, Tienda Naturista Girasol, Tienda Naturista Jerusalén Salud y bienestar, and Tienda Naturista Osglo Veracruz.