Health Beat: NuVal scores: Healthy choices made easy

Health Beat: NuVal scores: Healthy choices made easy

AURORA, Colo. - If you look at a grocery store tag, you'll probably first notice the price of the item, but look to the left. In blue lettering is something called a NuVal score. It's between one and 100, with one being the least healthy and 100 being the healthiest.

"NuVal is a way to make it really easy for the consumer, without having to pick up the product, to tell how healthy or unhealthy it really is," said Lauren Ott, a registered dietitian at the University of Colorado Anschutz Health and Wellness Center.

So, for instance, raisins have a high NuVal score of 88, but compare that to Craisins, with a low NuVal score of just four.

"The second ingredient in these Craisins is sugar," Ott said. "When you look at these raisins they have one ingredient: raisins."

Since honey is pure sugar, it gets a NuVal score of just one. Campbell's cream of mushroom soup is also on the lower end, at 31. Plain Greek yogurt scores high with 94.

The scores were calculated by a panel of nutritionists and medical experts, who took into account unhealthy fats, sodium, sugar, calories and carbohydrates.

If you don't see the NuVal score where you shop, download the NuVal app and scan foods yourself.

Researchers studied more than a half-million shoppers at a grocery store that used the NuVal scoring system and found that if shoppers only have to look at a single number, they are more likely to make healthier choices, even if they have to pay more.

The nutrition score appeared to justify the price. So, why aren't NuVal scores used in all grocery stores? To get NuVal, chains have to pay for it, and some aren't willing to do that.

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