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The NuVal Nutritional Scoring System is a food scoring system that helps you see at a glance the nutritional value of the foods you buy. Scores are displayed directly on shelf tags, scale labels, and other signage throughout Meijer so you can make quick and easy nutritional comparisons between foods.

Who's behind the NuVal Scores?

An independent panel of nutrition and medical experts from leading universities and health organizations led by Dr. David Katz of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center. Play the video to hear Dr. Katz talk about this ground-breaking program.



NuVal™ Scores for fruits and vegetables range from 24 to 100, with a median Score of 100*.

Many of the most nutritious items in the supermarket are found in the produce aisle. While vegetables and fruits tend to score very high on the range of NuVal Scores, they don't all score exactly the same. Scores vary in the produce category based on the concentration of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber in particular. Those at the very top of the range are very highly concentrated in many nutrients and low in calories. The lower scoring produce items are less packed with nutrients (as in the case of iceberg lettuce) or higher in calories (as in the case of passion fruit).

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NuVal™ Scores for seafood range from 36 to 89, with a median Score of approximately 81*.

Like meat and poultry, seafood is a source of neatly perfect protein. But unlike most other meats, fish tends to be low in saturated fat, and is often a concentrated source of fish oil, which is rich in health-promoting omega-3 fats. Because omega-3 fats are so important for health, they get a lot of credit in the calculation of NuVal™ Scores. For this reason, the fish that are richest in omega-3 fats, such as salmon, get very high scores. Fish and seafood with lesser amounts of omega-3 and higher concentrations of sodium get lower scores. Hence the Score of 36 for lobster, which is fairly high in sodium and, by and large, lacking in omega-3 fats.

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NuVal™Scores for bread range from 2 to 81, with a median Score of approximately 25*.

Bread Scores vary with the content of whole grain, fiber, sugar, salt, and oil. Breads made from just whole grain flour, water, and yeast can earn very high Scores. Highly processed breads - those made from refined flours and with high additions of sugar, salt, and/or harmful fats - will score quite low. What is surprising is how different the NuVal Score can be from what is suggested by the name of a bread - i.e., "whole grain", "whole wheat", "multi grain", etc. But that simply reveals that what a bread is called, and what it is made out of, may be two very different things

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NuVal™ Scores for cereal range from 4 to 100, with a median Score of approximately 25*.

The very word "cereal" refers to cereal grains, and the most nutritious breakfast cereals of all contain just that - whole grain, and little or nothing else. At the other end of the spectrum, however, are products still called cereal, but with sugar as the first (and therefore most abundant) ingredient. As a result, the range of NuVal Scores in the cereal aisle is one of the largest in the entire supermarket. Scores in this category will tend to vary with whole grain content and fiber (more is better); and with additions of sugar, salt, and saturated or trans fat (less is better). In some cases, as with toasted rice or corn flake cereals, Scores may be relatively low partly because of what is added (such as sugar and salt), as well as what is taken away (parts of the whole grain).

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Scores for crackers range from 2 to 87, with a median Score of approximately 14*.

You'll see an incredible range of Scores in the cracker aisle which indicates that some crackers are very nutritious and others much less so. And while the names and claims about "reduced fat" or "low sodium" may not reliably tell you which is the more nutritious choice, the NuVal Score - which factors in all aspects of nutritional quality - will. Higher Scores here mean more whole grain and fiber, less salt, less sugar, and less harmful saturated and/or trans fats.

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NuVal™ Scores for eggs and egg products range from 26 to 67, with a median Score of approximately 33*.

Eggs are a perfect protein source and provide many nutrients, but at a high cost in dietary cholesterol, which we are told to limit by the Dietary Guidelines, the DRIs, and all other sources of expert guidance. Some egg producers use a feeding process that can change the nutrient profile of the egg and - assuming they provide the data to support this - it may result in higher NuVal Scores for particular eggs in the future. Egg substitutes that score higher than eggs do so because they retain many of the favorable nutrients in eggs - particularly the high quality protein - while eliminating their principal nutritional liability, cholesterol. Scores for egg substitutes are higher when they are mostly egg white, with few additives. If salt or saturated fat is added, Scores drop sharply.

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NuVal™ Scores for frozen vegetables range from 22 to 100, with a median Score of 91*.

Many frozen vegetables have no additives, so their Scores are the same or similar to those of fresh vegetables, varying with the concentration of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. However, frozen vegetables with added salt and salt-heavy seasonings, as well as those with fat- and salt-laden sauces, will have lower Scores. Hence, the wide range of Scores for frozen vegetables.

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NuVal™ Scores for salty snacks range from 1 to 52, with a median Score of approximately 17*.

Salty snacks are, for the most part, made from grains (such as corn) or vegetables (such as potatoes). There are exceptions, such as pork rinds. The highest scoring items in this category are made from whole grains, and little else, providing fiber and relatively little salt. In fact, many items in the salty snack category are actually less salty than a healthy diet should be on average. This is because when a product has very few ingredients, the taste of each one comes through very clearly, and less salt is needed. In addition to high fiber and low salt, other factors leading to high Scores in this category include: the use of healthful, unsaturated oils such as canola oil; the absence of harmful oils; the addition of nutritious seeds, such as sesame seeds; and relatively fewer calories. Low Scores will tend to mean little or no fiber, more salt, high calorie content, and possibly the use of the less healthful oils that add saturated or trans fat.

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NuVal™ Scores for milk range from 12 to 100, with a median Score of approximately 54*.

Scores in the milk category vary primarily with saturated fat content. Other factors that strongly influence the Scores for milk products include added sugar and salt, and the concentrations of calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin D. Non-dairy and lactose-free beverages usually have the same influencers as regular milk, however, they may also contain fiber, which can influence the Score. Lactose, itself, is not a differentiating nutritional factor.

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NuVal™ Scores for pasta range from 11 to 91, with a median Score of approximately 52*.

The NuVal Scores for pasta show you that so-called "carbs" can be your friends nutritionally if you know which ones to choose. Whole grain pastas made from a few simple ingredients are rich in fiber and nutrients and have just about no harmful nutritional baggage. Even their glycemic load is low. Lower scoring pastas are made from refined rather than whole grains, or have added ingredients that drive up calories, cholesterol, and salt content.

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NuVal™ Scores for cookies range from 1 to 40, with a median Score of approximately 3*.

Look at the range of NuVal Scores in the cookie aisle and you'll see that while you may choose cookies just because you love them, you can still "trade up" to more nutritious options. Higher Scores in this category identify cookies with less sugar, less salt, less or no harmful oils, more fiber from whole grains, and vitamins and minerals from fruits and nuts. There is good nutrition for you even in the cookie aisle - and NuVal Scores make it easy for you find it.

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NuVal™ Scores for meat and poultry range from 24 to 53, with a median Score of approximately 28*.

All meats provide nearly perfect protein - only egg white is a more perfect source of the essential amino acids. Meat also is a good source of some B vitamins and minerals such as zinc. But meats can also provide saturated fat, cholesterol, and varying amounts of sodium. Meat and poultry scores tend to vary based on the content of saturated fat and sodium in particular; when these are more concentrated in a product, the NuVal™ Score will tend to be lower. Processed meats with added sodium will also tend to score lower. The saturated fat content of poultry varies between white and dark meat (white meat tends to have less), and whether it is skinless or not (the skin is very fatty). Remember that while lean meat may be a very important part of a balanced diet, it will never score as high as most vegetables. That is because the NuVal System measures the ratio of nutrients to calories, and meats are generally a much more concentrated source of calories than fresh produce. So don't look for a NuVal Score of 100 in this category; instead, just compare meat Scores to one another to find the items that are the most nutritious in this category.

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NuVal™ Scores for canned vegetables range from 1 to 100, with a median Score of approximately 46*.

Canned vegetable Scores vary with the concentration of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants, but also with additives, salt in particular, which tend to lower the Scores. Canned vegetables with no added salt generally Score very close to, sometimes even the same as, fresh and frozen vegetables with no additives. However, as the levels of sodium and other additives (such as sugar or oil) increase, NuVal Scores decrease - often times significantly, as in the case of pickled beets. A helpful tip for reducing the sodium content is to rinse canned vegetables before you heat or serve them.

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Test Your NuVal Knowledge

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The Numbers Tell the Story

You know that making better food choices is essential to good health, but it can be confusing and time consuming. Now NuVal, the Nutritional Scoring System is here to help.

Developed by a recognized team of nutrition and medical experts from leading health organizations and universities, the NuVal System is a food scoring system that helps consumers see - at a glance - the nutritional value of the food they buy.

How the Scoring Works

The NuVal System scores food on a scale of 1 to 100. The higher the NuVal Score, the higher the nutrition. It's that simple.

Because the NuVal System applies the same nutritional criteria to all foods, you can now quickly and easily compare the nutritional value of foods not only within a category (vegetables) but also across categories (vegetables and veggie burgers).

Why It Was Developed

The NuVal™ Nutritional Scoring System was developed in response to America's troubling health trends - rapidly rising rates of obesity and diabetes in both the adult and child populations - as a potential vehicle to improve public health.

Dr. David Katz, a nationally recognized authority on nutrition, weight control, and the prevention of chronic disease, established an independent team of nutrition and medical experts from leading universities and health organizations to spearhead the project. This team - which was funded by Griffin Hospital, a non-profit community hospital and teaching affiliate of the Yale University School of Medicine located in Derby, CT, and home to the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center - worked for two years to develop the ONQI algorithm that powers the NuVal System.

Backed by complex nutritional science, but designed to be easy to understand and use, the NuVal System meets the needs of frustrated consumers looking for a better way to make more informed food choices and improve the nutritional value of their diets.

How It Benefits You

The NuVal™ Nutritional Scoring System helps you cut through the clutter of nutrition information so you can make informed decisions about food quickly, easily, and with confidence.

Should you buy the wheat rolls or the potato bread? Which salty snack is more nutritious for your family? These are the decisions that the NuVal System can help you make - in mere seconds - as you're walking down the supermarket aisle.

A Different Approach to Nutrition

We realize other nutrition ranking systems are being promoted in the marketplace and we believe it is important for you to understand how the NuVal System differs.
  • It is truly independent. The team of recognized nutrition and medical experts that developed the ONQI™ algorithm behind the NuVal System was entirely funded by Griffin Hospital without support from manufacturers or other parties interested in promoting specific foods. Ownership and ongoing oversight of the algorithm remains in the hands of Griffin Hospital.
  • It provides complete and easy-to-use nutritional guidance. The NuVal System summarizes the overall nutritional value of food into a single number. Our 1-100 scoring range enables consumers - at a glance - to see and compare the nutritional value of the foods they buy.
  • It uses a robust scoring model. The NuVal System considers more than 30 different nutrients and nutrition factors - and their impact on health outcomes - to determine a food's Score, so it gives a robust and fair account of a food's true nutritional value.
  • It applies to all products in a grocery store. Our goal is to score 100% of the 50,000+ products in the average grocery store - including private label products. And because the NuVal System applies the same criteria to all foods and beverages, consumers are able to compare the nutritional value of products both within and across food categories.
  • It links price and nutrition. For every product on the shelf, consumers can see and compare (side by side on the same tag) exactly what they're paying for how much nutrition. This is a key benefit to consumers as the economy squeezes family budgets.

The ONQI™ Algorithm

The NuVal™ Nutritional Scoring System is powered by the Overall Nutritional Quality Index (ONQI™), a patent-pending algorithm for measuring the nutritional quality of foods and beverages based on the influence they have on overall dietary goals.

Developed by a team of leading nutrition, public health, and medical experts, the ONQI algorithm uses the Institute of Medicine's Dietary Reference Intakes (quantitative reference values for recommended intakes of nutrients) and the Dietary Guidelines For Americans (advice from the Department of Health and Human Services, HHS, and the Department of Agriculture, USDA, about how good dietary habits can promote health and reduce risk for major chronic diseases) to quantify the presence of more than 30 nutrients - including vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants; sugar, salt, trans fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol. The system also incorporates measures for the quality of protein, fat, and carbohydrates, as well as calories and omega-3 fats. The NuVal System also takes into account how these nutrients influence health based on broadly accepted, published scientific literature.

How It Works

The NuVal Nutritional Scoring System takes more than 30 different nutrients and nutrition factors into account when developing a Score, making it a very robust food rating system. Boiled down to its simplest description, here is how the Nuval System works:

  • Nutrients with generally favorable effects on health are placed in the numerator, where higher values increase the NuVal Score. See the numerator nutrients.
  • Nutrients with generally unfavorable effects on health are placed in the denominator, where higher values decrease the NuVal Score. See the denominator nutrients.

In addition to the numerator and denominator nutrients, the NuVal System takes into account other key factors that measure the quality and density of nutrients, as well as the strength of their association with specific health conditions.

For example, trans fat has a very strong association with heart disease, a highly prevalent and serious condition. Therefore, the NuVal System assigns a "weighting coefficient" to trans fat which substantially lowers the Score of foods containing it. Those weighting coefficients are determined by the prevalence, severity, and strength of association with health conditions.

The quality of macronutrients is another key factor in the overall equation. Fat quality, protein quality, and glycemic load (a measure of carbohydrate quality) are among the "universal adjustors" that can move a NuVal Score higher or lower. The higher the quality, the higher the Score.

Foods with higher nutrient density - a significant amount of vitamins and mineral, but relatively few calories - also receive extra credit and higher Scores. The greater a food's "trajectory" toward numerator nutrients (generally favorable) and away from denominator nutrients (generally unfavorable), the greater the Score.

Nutrients

Numerator Nutrients: Nutrients considered to have generally favorable effects on health are placed in the numerator, where higher values increase the NuVal Score.

  • Fiber
  • Folate
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin B6
  • Potassium
  • Calcium
  • Zinc
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Total bioflavanoids
  • Total carotenoids
  • Magnesium
  • Iron
  • Denominator Nutrients: Nutrients with generally unfavorable effects on health are placed in the denominator, where higher values decrease NuVal Score.
  • Saturated fat
  • Trans fat
  • Sodium
  • Sugar
  • Cholesterol

What is the NuVal™ Nutritional Scoring System?

The NuVal™ System is a nutrition scoring system that allows consumers to see - at a glance - the nutritional value of the foods they buy.

  • It's a summary of the overall nutritional value of grocery store products.
  • It provides one simple score from 1 to 100. The higher the nutritional value, the higher the NuVal™ Score. It's as simple as that.

What does the NuVal™ System do?

The NuVal™ System makes it easy to quickly see the overall nutritional values of the foods you're buying, helping you make smarter choices item by item.

Who developed it?

The NuVal™ System is based on a unique food scoring formula developed over the course of two years of research by an independent team of nutrition and medical experts from leading universities and health organizations.

The team featured experts from nutritional and medical disciplines like general nutrition, pediatrics, cardiovascular disease, epidemiology, weight management, diabetes and chronic disease prevention.

Led by Dr. David Katz of the Yale University/Griffin Hospital Prevention Research Center, the team and its work were solely funded by Griffin Hospital, independent of funding or influence by food or beverage retailers or manufacturers. Ownership and ongoing oversight of the algorithm remains in the hands of Griffin Hospital.

The team's mission was to develop a science-based formula that would give people the ability to easily see and compare the overall nutritional values of any food or beverage they were considering.

How is a score calculated?

The NuVal™ System takes into consideration more than 30 nutrients, including carbohydrates, protein, fat, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It accounts for how these nutrients influence health and how they relate to recommendations from USDA dietary guidelines and Institute of Medicine Dietary Reference Intakes. Some of the nutrients used to arrive at a NuVal™ Score are:

A NuVal™ Score does much more than just add up nutrients. It provides nutritional perspective. For example, fiber is an important part of a healthy diet, but most Americans don't get the recommended daily amounts. So we've weighted fiber to reflect the need to add more of it to our diets.

NuVal™ Scores also take into account the amounts of protein, fat and carbohydrates, as well as the quality of these important nutrients, as there are differing quality levels that we can evaluate.

How can you make NuVal™ Scores work for you?

Use the NuVal™ System as a guide when you do your grocery shopping. It's a fast, simple way to make well-informed nutritional choices.

A NuVal™ Score allows you to compare products within a food section or even across categories by giving you a simple Score of the overall nutritional value of each product. When you see a NuVal™ Score on the shelf, the higher the number you see, the higher nutritional value of that item.

The NuVal™ System is designed to help you make informed choices for a balanced approach to shopping and eating. It's not there to tell you if a food is good or bad; it just gives the score that food earned. Only you can decide what your overall nutritional needs are.

Also, don't forget to take into account the size of your portions and variety of foods you eat, as they're also important to consider in addition to using the NuVal™ System. Why don't all foods in the store have scores yet?

Because in order to do it right, it takes time to evaluate the tens of thousands of food items grocery stores carry. We're doing it right so it takes time, but expect to continue seeing more NuVal™ Scores in your aisles soon. For more information visit meijerhealthyliving.com.