Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Keep It Real: The Food, I Mean

Today I read an article about different food labeling strategies that supermarkets are using to help consumers determine which foods are healthier than others. The labeling strategies run the gamut from Guiding Stars where the product is rated anywhere from 0-4 stars (I've been told that so many foods on the supermarket shelves rated 0 stars that the algorithms of the original formula had to be changed!) to the NuVal System where the food is given a number ranging from 0-100, 100 being the highest.

Personally, there are so many factors to consider when determining the nutritional value of a food. One must consider how much sodium, cholesterol, total fat, added sugars, organically grown or not, kosher, grams of fiber, artificial sweeteners, colored dyes. The list is endless. How does one compute an algorithm that can incorporate everything? My short answer: They can't.

Which is why I have come up with my own: Count the number of deviations from the food's original form. The greater the number, the less its nutritional value.

Apple picked from tree. Barring the enormous amount of pesticides sprayed on the poor fruit, this is high in nutritional value. No deviations from the original. Good for you.

Dole applesauce. Pretty close but considered less. I'd say one deviation from original because it has been processed (I know I'm starting controversy here but I'm going with my theory).

Apple juice. With all the fiber and water extracted, leaving us with a concentrated form of liquid sugar that will rush the insulin from our beta cells, two to three from the original form. Drink water instead and just eat the apple you picked from the tree.

Fruit roll-ups. I'm not even sure there's real fruit in them but I would guess with all the added chemicals, dyes and sugar, we're about 5 deviations from the original. NO GOOD FOR YOU.

So, you see where I'm going with this. When determining the nutritional value of a food, don't let all the numbers give you a headache. There are thousands of them out there and we can't let ourselves get boxed in like the processed food on our shelves. Just keep it real and stick as close to the food's original form as possible. The lower the numbers of deviation, the higher the nutritional value.

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