NuVal® Scores – Believable?

My grandson brought back some pamphlets from a local grocery store.  This store uses the NuVal ®System which they really touted when they first incorporated it in the store, but have not really touted it since.  I was curious when I was reading the information, because I do care about the nutrition of the food I buy.  While I was reading though the scores, I was blown away with what was high on the scale 1-100, and what was low.  Barilla Plus Penne was given a score of 91, 90% lean ground sirloin was given 30, Post Shredded Wheat had a score of 91 while chicken breast was given 39.  I was extremely puzzled by these scores.  To me, the Barilla is a carb, while the ground sirloin is a protein, yet the difference in the score was huge.

I went to a website,, to find how the foods are scored.  This statement was made,

“NuVal® Scores, the most comprehensive system of its kind, and the only system that has been scientifically proven to prevent chronic illness, is now on the shelves of nearly 1,700 supermarkets across the U.S. and seen by millions of shoppers each day.”

I looked for the studies and research to back up that statement on the website, there are no references.  Under the tab Origins and Development were these paragraphs:

“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 Griffin Prevention Research Center — advocated the development of an independent and simplified nutritional scoring system as a vehicle to improve public health. (And yet, some of supposedly high scored nutritional foods are full of food stuffs, preservatives, and junk.)

The effort was funded by Griffin Hospital, a non-profit community hospital and teaching affiliate of the Yale University School of Medicine located in Derby, CT, and home to the Yale Griffin Prevention Research Center. The team worked for two years, referring to the most comprehensive science available*, to develop the Overall Nutritional Quality Index (ONQI™), a patent-pending algorithm which converts complex nutritional information into a single, easy-to-use score. The ONQI algorithm is now the scientific engine behind the NuVal System, and together they are helping people make faster, easier, and better decisions about the foods they buy.” *no references to what science

I could not find the science to prove the first statement above.  When I looked at how the score works, to me it is all about fiber, no saturated fats, sugar is okay, canola oil is okay.  Proteins are not given very high scores, additives are okay, etc.  — lots of ingredients that are not okay for me. So to a shopper who has a limited budget using the NuVal system, they will look at the high score of pasta and decide to get the pasta, not the protein.  NuVal is most confusing. It is not a fast and easy decision for me to use this system.  Sunshine Cheez-it Baked Snack Crackers Reduced Fat are 23, while Libby’s Sauerkraut with Caraway Seeds (canned) is 13 and fresh Iceberg lettuce is 94.  I looked up David Katz, the director of the Yale Griffin Prevention Research Center, and the main developer of this system.  I found a blog he wrote about the problems of processed food.

“Anyone living and eating in the modern world, and paying even a little attention, knows that we are a very long way from eating food, not too much, mostly plants. Not only does our food come mostly in bags, boxes, bottles, jars and cans — but mostly, it isn’t really food. It’s food stuff. It doesn’t come from an animal or plant; it’s made in a plant. It rolls off an assembly line.” (Dr. David Katz)

Wait isn’t Sunshine Cheez-it’s processed addictive food with good score from his system?

This is from the same man who developed the NuVal system.  Wonder Cinnamon Raisin Bread a 11, but Wonder Classic White Sandwich Bread is 28.  What????  I was shopping for salsa and thought I would use the NuVal system to pick a nutritious salsa.  simple truth organic salsa with no artificial flavors or preservatives, tomatoes, green peppers, jalapeno peppers, salt, white vinegar, and other spices—not artificial was given the score of 8—and I was glad there was a score because much of the brand simple truth do not have scores.  Down the aisle was Pace Southwestern Ranch Dip with a score of 36!  These are it’s ingredients:

Water, Soybean Oil, Whey*, Whey Protein Concentrate, Chipotle Adobo Puree (Water, Onion, Chipotle Peppers*, Tomato Paste, Canola Oil, Sugar, Vinegar, Salt, Garlic, Natural Smoke Flavoring, Spice, Oregano), Modified Food Starch, Contains Less Than 2% of: Salt, Sugar, Onions*, Monosodium Glutamate, Garlic*, Glucono Delta Lactone, Lactic Acid, Flavoring, Sodium Polyphosphate, Datem, Xanthan Gum, Hydrolyzed Dairy Solids, Spice, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Skim Milk, Anhydrous Milkfat, Cream, Cultures, Sodium Citrate. *Dehydrated.

You make the choice.  I did.  I went with the simple truth product.  I really feel this NuVal System is a crock.  I am a believer in using and needing saturated fats, not using a lot of sugar, tying to limit my carbs, eating meat, so I already know I will not agree with this system.  It is supposedly not driven by any influence by food manufacturers, but when you look at scores of comparable products, there are differences in the nutritional scores for the same ingredients. (Some exceptions)  Or coconut – husked which is a wonder food despite the evil reputation given it by the low fat crowd is given a score of 24 while iceberg lettuce gets 94!!

So here is a quote:

The history of our race, and each individual’s experience, are sown thick with evidence that a truth is not hard to kill and that a lie told well is immortal.

Mark Twain, Advice to Youth



About Marilyn

I am a "retired senior" (I've been a school librarian and library tech for a government research facility) who is now pursuing a dream of a home business sewing bags of all sorts, crafting and being the creative person I have always wanted to be. I grew up in the center of Illinois and dreamed of actually living back in the state of Colorado where I was born and lived till the age of 7. That dream came true when I met my husband of 43 years while working together in Estes Park. I am interested in alternative medicine, continuing the good health I've always had, while returning to the pre-processed food era of: eating well, losing weight, and using products that do not harm the environment, me, my family and friends. I am for labeling GMO’s, using sustainable products, organics and finding solutions to everyday problems, like colds and sore muscles, using natural remedies. I have a positive attitude that has helped through a very hard year and will bring forth a life that will be full and happy. My family is wonderful and I am a happy lady, wife, mother, and grandma.

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