If you want to eat healthy but you’re uncertain about which foods to choose, the new NuVal Nutritional Scoring System will make your life easier.

Independent health professionals have devised this system that ranks foods by a single number on a scale of 1 to 100. You just pick the higher score if you’re trying to figure out whether cottage cheese or yogurt is better for you.

Understanding the NuVal Score

1. Learn the background. NuVal was developed by an independent panel of nutritional and medical experts concerned about rising rates of obesity and diabetes. The team included physicians from many major universities.

2. Get familiar with the benefits. If you sometimes find product labels confusing, you may prefer having everything summarized into a single numerical score. Plus, the system covers all kinds of foods and brands.

3. Check out the science. The scores are based on more than 30 distinct nutrients and factors. The data and conclusions come from published scientific studies, the Department of Agriculture and other government agencies.

4. Emphasize favorable factors. The highest scores go to nutrient dense foods. They deliver the good stuff your body needs like vitamins, minerals and fiber without excessive calories.

5. Avoid unfavorable factors. Lower scores warn you about empty calories or high amounts of sugar, sodium and cholesterol. Trans fats are a particular concern because they have a strong link with heart disease.

6. Stay updated. New studies are always adding to our knowledge about the foods we eat and some products get reformulated. NuVal plans to make revisions every two years.

7. See your doctor. NuVal contains general guidelines for everyone over the age of two. Talk with your doctor if you have existing health conditions or other individual concerns that affect your food choices, as these may need to override the NuVal choices.

Using the NuVal Score At The Grocery Store

8. Check the shelves. NuVal scores are displayed on the price tags on store shelves and on other signage. Their double hexagon emblem makes them easy to spot.

9. Trade up. The cornerstone of the system is trading up. You may find that the store brand outperforms your usual peanut butter.

10. Find the best values. Whole foods often cost more than junk food. NuVal can help you plan balanced meals within your budget by putting nutritional information side by side with prices.

11. Continue your education. Many supermarkets already provide brochures and presentations to help you improve your diet. NuVal adds to that trend and gives you more opportunities to access reliable information with banners, shelf-talkers and other communications.

12. Locate stores near you. A number of major chains are already featuring the NuVal system and more are signing up. You can also find information on the NuVal website, www.nuval.com, or ask your store to consider enrolling.

Using the NuVal System at Home

13. Reconsider fad diets. Restrictive fad diets often leave you feeling deprived, and many people gain back more weight than they lose. One of the advantages of NuVal is that it promotes a healthy way of eating you can follow each day for life.

14. Try new recipes. The NuVal website also offers free recipes full of ideas for trading up. Learn how to slim down your desserts and sandwiches.

15. Adopt a healthy lifestyle. Remember the other lifestyle elements you need to complement smart eating. Get plenty of good quality sleep, stay physically active and get regular medical check-ups.

NuVal is a simple tool that can help you select nutrient dense foods. Even small changes in the way you eat can have a dramatic impact in helping you to stay fit and lower your risk for diabetes and other health conditions.

Photo: Alexander Baxevanis

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