New Scoring System Makes Sense of Confusing Nutrition Labels

Lloyd Autin's learned all about navigating nutrition labels, since his doctor said start eating right.  “I look for the fiber and I look for the sodium and I can see this brand here is very good.”  Lloyd's high-fiber diet seems to be paying off.  “I’m 84 years old and uh, I`m very active.”

But we're aren't all pictures of health like Lloyd and it can be tough navigating nutrition.  That's why a few smarty pants at Yale University came up with a new system.  Nuval, as it's called, is catching on with those granola eaters out West in states like California and Colorado.  Robert fresh market is the first to carry it in New Orleans.

Marc Robert explains how it works.  “It takes the nutrition facts panel and it looks at the nutrients with favorable health effects,” such as protein, potassium and fiber “and it divides that by nutrients with less favorable health effects,” like sugar, cholesterol and trans fats.

“And it gives you one easy score that the customer can look at to derive the overall health value of a product,” says Robert.  You'll find that number, one to a hundred, right next to the item's price tag.  The higher the score, the better it is for you.

Robert and I conduct a little test with Jif peanut butter.  I guessed the low fat version was healthier and would score higher.  Wrong!  The whole fat Jif scores 20 on the Nuval scale while the low-fat scores just 7.  Robert says that's because of added sugar and sodium.  I also check out those Kashi cereals, which are supposed to be so healthy.   Many scored in the 30's, while old fashioned shredded wheat got a whopping 91!

The new scoring system could spell trouble for manufacturers with weak claims about their products' benefits.  The best way to find high Nuval scores?  S tick with fresh foods and avoid anything pre-packaged.

2 points for cookies!?  Yikes!