A New Way to Choose Healthy Foods

A new system that goes beyond food labels.

In addition to listing ingredients, food is required to have nutritional information labeling. But what do these nutrition facts really tell us about the health value of a food? A new system created by Yale scientist Dr. David Katz and a panel of experts hopes to cut through the food industry’s highly successful marketing of unhealthy snack foods. NuVal is a 1-100 based system that weighs 30-plus nutrients and nutrition factors. Good nutrients like fiber raise the score, while the not-so-good, like trans fats and excess sugar, lower the score.

As Katz says in this clip from CNNMoney.com, most produce will have a score between 90-100. We know produce is healthy. The other foods that are labeled to get us to think they are healthy are what NuVal targets. For example, Reduced Fat Jif peanut butter has a NuVal of 7 while regular Jif has a NuVal of 20. The culprit is higher sodium and sugar, which a busy buyer may overlook in favor of the promise of lower fat. The industry buzz words of “reduced fat,” “whole grain,” and “no sugar added” are challenged.

As you can see in this image, the bread on the right with a NuVal of 34 is a better choice than the bagel on the left which has a NuVal of 5.

Currently, snack food sales in the U.S. are $26 billion a year. Meanwhile, more than one-in-four of us is considered obese. NuVal is now on 70,000 items in 750 grocery stores across the country. To learn more about the science of NuVal and to request the system be implemented by your local store, visit nuval.com.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest