Friday, May 17, 2013

Just for Fun: Using NuVal® to Buy Healthier Foods

Have you ever looked at a food nutrition label? Do you know what it means? Which is better for you: original, lite, low-fat, or fat free? How about whole grain, multi-grain, or whole wheat? Don’t know? Let me introduce you to NuVal®.

What is NuVal®?
The NuVal® Nutritional Scoring System is a food scoring system that gives foods a score from 1 to 100 based on the food’s nutrition. The higher the number, the more nutrition the food contains. Any type of food can have a NuVal® score, from fresh fruit to processed cereal. The system helps people choose healthy foods quickly and easily because it is a simple number instead of the many numbers listed on a food nutrition label.

How it Works
Each score is calculated using the ONQITM (Overall Nutritional Quality Index) Algorithm that a group of twelve nutrition and medical experts created. For each food, they take the nutrients with favorable effects on health (i.e. iron, vitamins, potassium, calcium, etc.) and divide them by the nutrients with unfavorable effects on health (i.e. sodium, sugar, cholesterol, etc.) to get a single number that represents the overall nutrition of the food. The higher the number, the more nutrition it contains.

How to Use NuVal®
The first time I started to look at the NuVal® scores, I was shocked to see that the lite version of my family’s favorite brand of salad dressing was actually more nutritious than the fat-free version that I usually purchased. As I paid more attention to the scores, I noticed some of the foods I have been buying have a NuVal® score in the single digits! Now that I pay attention to the scores, I don’t think I will ever go back. It is so quick and easy to just look at a single number to choose which products I want to buy. I don’t have to take the time to compare different products and I feel like I am purchasing the most nutritious foods for my family. I also like that even fresh fruits and vegetables have NuVal® scores.

Examples of NuVal® Scores
While there is not a running list of NuVal® scores posted for the public, but there are a few listed on the NuVal® website. Here are some examples:
  • Skinless Turkey Breast - 48
  • Broccoli - 100
  • General Mills Whole Grain Cheerios - 37
  • Keebler Townhouse Bistro Multi Grain Crackers - 3
  • 1% Milk - 81
  • Shrimp - 75
Stores that Have NuVal®
The NuVal® System is currently used in the following stores: Amigos United, Bel Air, Big Y, Brookshire’s, City Market, Coborn’s, Festival Foods, Food City, Market District, Giant Eagle, Hy-Vee, Just Save, King Kullen, King Soopers, Kroger, Lowes Foods, Lunds and Byerly’s, Market Street, Meijer, Nob Hill Foods, Price Chopper, Price Cutter, Raleys, Reasor’s, Robert Fresh Market, Scolari’s, Super 1 Foods, Tops, and United Supermarkets. If your store is not listed, you can ask your store manager about it or suggest a store to NuVal® on their website.

Where to Find NuVal® Scores in the Store
The NuVal® scores are right next to the price of the item. It looks like two blue hexagons connected together on one side with a number over the top of them. The number is the product’s NuVal® score.

If your store uses the NuVal® system, I challenge you to check out some of the products you usually buy for your family to see what their NuVal® score is. Maybe you could even try only buying foods with a NuVal® score over 50!

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