NuVal Nutritional Rating System: NoVal to Foodies

 A few months ago, I started noticing something in my local grocery store in Colorado, called NuVal. The store is a King Super chain owned by Kroger. Being the foodie that I am, I was very curious about NuVal, which is a newly contrived system for relaying nutritional information about food to consumers. The NuVal system rates foods from 1-100, with 100 being the highest nutritional value. I guess they decided it was too confusing for consumers to read labels and that the NuVal system would assist consumers to know the nutritional value of the food they buy. I have a couple of big concerns about this system. My first concern is who are “they” and how do “they” come up with their scores? Do they take into consideration genetically engineered ingredients and organics? Why do they think consumers are not smart enough to read labels?

 In answer to my first question of who are they, this is a direct quote from the NuVal website:

“The NuVal® Nutritional Scoring System was developed as a direct response to America’s troubling health trends: rapidly rising rates of obesity and diabetes in both the adult and child populations. A team of recognized medical and nutrition experts — led by Dr. David Katz of the Yale Prevention Research Center — advocated the development of an independent and simplified nutritional scoring system as a vehicle to improve public health.”

While I appreciate that this system was developed by a group of doctors and nutritionists, I can’t help wonder if they are taking into account the fact that 80-90% of our food in the grocery stores are genetically engineered and not labeled as such.

My next concern is that there is no consideration given for foods that contain genetically engineered ingredients (“GMOs”). There is considerable scientific research regarding the use of GMOs. To see the full report and the latest science, go to the Here is a small list of some of their findings:

• GMOs can be toxic, allergenic or less nutritious than their natural counterparts
• GMOs can disrupt the ecosystem, damage vulnerable wild plant and animal populations and harm biodiversity
• GMOs increase chemical inputs (pesticides, herbicides) over the long term
• GMOs deliver yields that are no better, and often worse, than conventional crops
• GMOs cause or exacerbate a range of social and economic problems
• GMOs are laboratory-made and, once released, harmful GMOs cannot be recalled from the environment

Also, when they rate the vegetables, do they take into consideration “organics”? Produce that is not organic can be sprayed with many pesticides that get into the foods and get into our bodies. Do these doctors and nutritionist take this into consideration in their scoring? I don’t think so!

I noticed that both iceburg lettuce and spinach both got a NuVal rating of 82. Iceburg lettuce has virtually no nutritional value and is mostly water and cellulose. However, spinach is rich in iron, vitamins A and C and also contains good amounts of potassium, manganese, magnesium, copper and zinc. How can they both score an 82? Further, the nutritional value of organic produce would be higher than conventionally grown produce which has been sprayed with pesticides.

The NuVal rating system for meats seems very biased to me. Red meat and eggs get low ratings because it factors in cholesterol and saturated fat as bad things. Even though Ancel Keys himself acknowledged that dietary cholesterol has no connection to cholesterol in the blood. And any correlations between saturated fat and heart disease have been soundly refuted over and over.

“There’s no connection whatsoever between cholesterol in food and cholesterol in blood. And we’ve known that all along. Cholesterol in the diet doesn’t matter at all unless you happen to be a chicken or a rabbit.” Ancel Keys, Ph.D., professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota 1997.”

Lastly, what concerns me the most about the NuVal system is that it seems to be just another step in the dumbing down of America. We as consumers have a responsibility to ourselves to know what foods we put in our bodies. If we rely on corporations to make our choices for us, we give our power away to these corporations. I feel it is time we take back our power of choice and say no to those who want us to settle for foods that cause cancer and other diseases. Henry Kissinger said “when you control the food, you control the people.” It’s all about choice! I choose to know what is in my food and to make choices that support my health, not corporations who do not have my best interest in mind.

Have you seen this NuVal rating? What do you think about it?




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