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Nutritional surprises in the grocery aisles

Posted by Janice Cox, RDN, LD, Lunds and Byerly’s Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist
Thursday, April 18, 2013

From cereal and crackers to ice cream and juice, there are common misconceptions about the nutritional quality of foods. The fact is, it’s easy to be fooled—even unintentionally—into what we think is better for us to eat. The results, however, are quite clear: obesity and heart disease rates in America continue to skyrocket. A leading contributor to the problem is confusion on how to find better nutrition.

This past fall we launched the NuVal Nutrition Scoring System in all of our Lunds and Byerly’s stores. For those unfamiliar with this system, NuVal gives all foods and drinks a score from 1 to 100 – the higher the score, the higher the nutrition. Nearly 15,000 products throughout our stores have a NuVal score and you’ll find it right on the price tag next to the price. NuVal scores give you the ability to quickly compare the overall nutritional quality of foods at a glance. 

Sunmaid Raisins with a NuVal score of 87As I talk about the NuVal system with our customers, many are surprised to learn foods they thought were highly nutritious are not always the better choice. Here are some examples.

Craisins score a 4 on the NuVal scale, while raisins score an 87. Why? Craisins have added sugar, while raisins are naturally sweet.

When it comes to frozen treats, fruit bars often seem like a healthier option than ice cream. That’s not always the case though because of the high sugar content found in many frozen fruit bars. If you’re looking to trade up, try a Skinny Cow bar with a NuVal score of 25.

In the juice aisle, you’ll find many labels stating the products are made from 100 percent juice with no sugar added. While that is likely true, from a nutritional standpoint many of these products contain juice concentrate that has been stripped of many nutritional qualities. Go for 100 percent fruit juices like orange and grapefruit that have a NuVal score around 30.

Let’s look at one more example. Which of these products do you think packs a more nutritional punch – Del Monte diced tomatoes with no salt added or Del Monte diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano? You might think the added herbs in option two would give that product a higher nutritional value, but it scores a 34 compared to the diced tomatoes with no salt added that have a NuVal score of 81. A closer look at the ingredient label for the diced tomatoes with added herbs reveals the addition of high fructose corn syrup, which lowers the overall nutritional quality of the product.

The wonderful thing about NuVal is you don’t have to spend lots of time analyzing a product’s ingredient label. NuVal has already done that for you so you can simply look at the score and make quick nutritional decisions! For more information on NuVal or other nutrition related questions, call 952-541-1414.

Tags: nuval

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