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How Does My Breakfast Score?

Posted Sep 08 2009 10:36pm

IMG_6867How would you rate my breakfast?

The reason I ask is because a Boston-area company actually does this for you!

(The company is not compensating me in any way to write this blog post; I just think their system is really cool and beneficial to consumers.)

NuVal is a nutritional scoring system that rates foods on a scale of 1-100, based on how nutritious they are. NuVal is being implemented in grocery stores around the country. It may not be in your area yet, but it’s an interesting concept to help you make better decisions about what you eat and feed to your family.

Melissa, one of the folks at NuVal, checked out my breakfast this morning and sent me the following scores for it:

  • Chobani Plain Non-fat: 94
  • Banana:   91
  • Peanut Butter Puffins: 24

I expected the Chobani and banana to score pretty high, but I was surprised by the score that my beloved Peanut Butter Puffins received. Melissa helped me understand what the scores mean on the NuVal scale.

It’s important for NuVal users to understand that you can’t get a 100 in every category. Many fruits and vegetables score in the 90 – 100 range, but you also need to eat protein, grains, and, of course, treats. You’re not going to find a cookie that scores a 100– nor would you want to eat one if you did! When talking about crackers, for instance, the scores range from 2 – 87. So, a 24 is pretty decent when you’re talking about crackers, but not as good when you are talking about cereal, which is why NuVal talks about medians and ranges for every category. Melissa further explains these ranges in her blog post:  Goldfish Vs. Bunnies. Definitely check out her post– you might be surprised about NuVal’s score for Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies. I was rather shocked!

Okay, so back to the Peanut Butter Puffins. First, check out NuVal’s scores for cereal: Cereal Scores.

As you can see, there are some cereals that come close to 100, but are you really going to eat Hodgson Mill Unprocessed Wheat Bran for breakfast every morning? Probably not. The median score for cereal is a 25, so my Peanut Butter Puffins actually fall below that number.

A lot of people think that because they find their cereal in the grocery store’s organic/healthy section, it must be really nutritious. However, this is not always the case. Perfect example:  Kashi’s Strawberry Fields cereal scores an 11 while  Cap’n Crunch scores a  10. I’m not saying all Kashi cereals score that low– their 7 Whole Grain Cereal Puffs actually score a 91– but you may think you’re doing a really healthy thing by eating “organic” cereal, but you could actually be eating one in the Cap’n Crunch range. Melissa talks more about this in her “ Adult Rated Cereal ” post.

Questions of the Day

What do you think of nutrition rating systems like NuVal? Would it take some of the confusion out of food shopping? What was the most surprising NuVal score to you?

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