Tuesday, September 2, 2008

New Nutritional Rating System Hits Supermarket Shelves

In a grocery world where health claims cover food packaging and nutrition labels confuse consumers, an easier nutritional rating system is a welcome advancement. To help consumers assess nutritional value of supermarket items, a rating between one and 100, 100 being the best, will be assigned to designate the "Overall Nutritional Quality Index (ONQI)" of the food in three major supermarket chains this month.

The complex and comprehensive formula factors in more than 30 different nutrient markers such as vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates, antioxidants, fat, fiber, folate, potassium, calcium, zinc, omega 3 fatty acids, iron, energy density, sugar, cholesterol, trans fat and so forth. I know I know, this sounds a little too nutritionism-esque but I like the concept and want to look into it further.

So NuVal, the creator of the Nutritional Scoring System, is expected to rate approximately 40,000 supermarket products by September 2009. For now, because I'm sure you are curious, here are a few example ratings that have been released:

Fresh strawberries: 100
Raw broccoli: 100
Fresh blueberries: 100
Raw spinach: 100
Apple: 96
Banana: 91
Plain oatmeal: 88
Atlantic salmon: 87
Almonds, dry roasted: 82
1% Milk: 81
Orange Juice: 39
Ground beef, cooked at home: 31
Diet soda: 15
Pepperoni: 9
Regular soda: 1

And here is the official description of the rating from griffinhealth.org:

The Overall Nutritional Quality Index (ONQI) is algorithm designed to generate a single, summative score for the “overall nutritional quality” of a food based on it's micronutrient and macronutrient composition and several other of its nutritional properties (e.g., energy density). The ONQI is further designed to stratify foods into a rank order of relative nutritiousness both universally (i.e., across all food categories) and within specific food categories (e.g., breads, cereals, frozen desserts, etc.), while avoiding the characterization of any food as “good” or “bad” in absolute terms. The ONQI enables the “average shopper” to choose foods on the basis of overall nutritional quality with the ease and fidelity of top nutrition experts. It is designed to have applications at point of purchase in retail supermarkets, on food packaging, in restaurants, inprint materials (e.g., books, periodicals), and on-line.

***UPDATE*** I found some more ratings in Nat. Geo.
Orange: 100
Green beans: 100
Pineapple: 99
Radish: 99
Summer squash: 98
Green cabbage: 96
Tomato: 96
Clementine: 94
Watermelon: 94
Fresh Figs: 91
Avocado: 89
Shrimp: 75
Couscous: 72
Canned Tuna, oil, drained: 67
White rice: 57
Canned kidney beans: 52
Pasta: 50
NY strip steak: 44
Vanilla yogurt: 43
Skinless chicken breast: 39
Canned peaches: 37
Lobster: 36
Enriched white bread: 29
Whole chicken with skin: 28
Raisins: 26
Hamburger (75% lean): 25
Bagel: 23
Peanut butter: 23
Swiss cheese: 17
Center-cut bacon: 13
Dark chocolate: 10
White bread: 9
Cheese Puffs: 4
Apple Pie: 2
Regular-cut bacon: 2
Saltine crackers: 2
Popsicle: 1
I am sort of surprised by the lower-than-I-expected rating of dark chocolate. Raisins too. And also that Cheese Puffs got a four and Saltines got a two.

No comments: