Shopping for the healthiest foods can be a frustrating experience. Because of an abundance of media’s messages about “good” and “bad” foods, you almost have to have a PhD in nutrition to know what to buy at the supermarket. Thankfully, the solution for simplifying the grocery shopping experience is just around the corner. Some stores now have a helpful food labeling system. For example:
--Hannaford grocery stores have created a Guiding Star system that ranks foods according to the nutrients we want to eat more of (such as calcium, iron, fiber) and those we should eat less of (saturated fat, trans fat, sodium). Signs in the market place indicate if a food has one, two or three stars. The fact that 77% of the foods in the store do not qualify for even one star indicates how sub-optimal our food supply is...
--About 500 grocery stores nationwide are using the NuVal food ranking system. Look for NuVal scores next to the price tags on the shelves. For example, Kellogg’s Unfrosted Mini-wheats have a NuVal score of 91; in comparison, the score for Rice Crispie Treats Cereal is 8. The system offers an independent review of the foods; it was not developed by the food industry and is not biased.
As a result of being educated by these helpful food-ranking systems, consumers are shifting their shopping patterns. According to speakers at a conference sponsored by Tufts School of Nutrition Science and Policy, people shopping at markets with the food ranking systems are now buying more of the best foods, and less of the rest.Once consumers start requesting more nutrient dense and locally grown foods, the grocery stores will change what they currently sell. Here’s to better health!
Nancy, is eliminating all sugar (except for natural sugar in fruits) from your diet safe? In normal grocery stores, it's almost impossible to find anything outside of the vegetable section that doesn't have sugar. I switched to soy milk but even that still has sugar .
Answer: Why would you want to eliminate all sugar? Sugar is a source of fuel for active muscles. All fruits, veggies and grains digest into sugar, the fuel that feeds your muscles as well as your brain. Milk also naturally contains sugar (lactose).
The concern should not be "sugar" but the source of the sugar. For example, sugar in soda pop is "empty calories" -- with no nutritional value. Sugar in oranges comes along with lots of vitamin C, potassium, folate and other health-promoting nutrients. Enjoying sweet oranges is a smart food choice, nutritionally preferable to drinking orange soda.
Processed foods often have a little sugar added. For example, the sugar in jarred spaghetti sauce adds to an enjoyable taste -- but it does not negate the nutrient content of the sauce. Dont worry about it! Nutrition guidelines say that 10% of calories can appropriately come from refined sugar. As an active person, you likely need at least 2,000 calories a day. That means, you could enjoy 200 calories of refined sugar, if desired. That's 50 grams -- a quart of Gatorade, or a ton of spaghetti sauce!
Rather than getting hung up on sugar, look at the balance of your whole diet. You want to eat a diet with 85 to 90% nutrient-dense foods. But you need not eat a "perfect diet" (for you, this sounds like a sugar-free diet) to have a good diet.