You read the ingredient list and looked at the nutrition label, but you’re still uncertain as to how healthy that box of granola is that you just tossed in your grocery cart. Well, wonder no more.
Developed by two doctors, Drs. Adam Drewnowski and Victor Fulgoni, the Nutrient Rich Foods (NRF) Index is a validated, objective, and consumer-driven guide that ranks foods according to how nutrient-rich they are. Using the USDA Healthy Eating Index as a base, this new NRF Index takes into account all of the nutrients a given food contains, not just the ones to avoid or limit, like fat, sodium or sugar grams.
This kind of ranking system, which is also referred to as nutrition profiling, was discussed in the recent issue of the Journal of Nutrition and is being lauded as an empowering tool that allows consumers to choose the most nutrient-dense foods. Since numerous diseases and weight-related conditions are due to eating too much or not getting enough of the proper nutrients, the NRF has the power to lead consumers to a healthier diet and lifestyle when it is used appropriately.
The Index is still being organized into a consumer-friendly format so that anyone can use it and apply it to their eating choices. The NRF calculation analyzes the sum of nine nutrients to consume, including protein, calcium, magnesium, iron, fiber, potassium and vitamins A, C and E and then subtracts them from the sum of three nutrients to restrict like saturated fats, sodium and added sugars. What results is an NRF number that reflects how nutrient-rich a particular food is.
It will be interesting to see how the NRF Index will translate into packaging labels and how or rather if, this ranking system will pass through the regulatory standards that will allow it be printed on food labels.
See other examples of these new nutritional food ranking systems.