Using the FoodFacts Health Score

Published on Friday, 08 February 2013 14:13

Our patent-pending Foodfacts Health Score is designed to give our members an at-a-glance overview of a product’s nutritional value.  So how do you take the score and use it to maintain a healthy and nutritious diet?

Here’s something to remember: it’s not about Straight As.

It would be almost impossible to eat only products that get an A on our site, and frankly, we aren’t suggesting it.  Any sensible diet is about moderation.

First, let’s review how the score is calculated: based on each food category, the nutritional content (calories, fats, sugars, fiber, etc.) is graded based on standards set by our nutrition department.  Then the product gains points for additional vitamins, and loses points for controversial ingredients, trans fats, or containing no vitamins.

This means than an A product in any category contains vitamins and minerals that your body needs, and does not contain the controversial ingredients, trans fats or added sugars that your body doesn’t need.

If you eat mostly As and Bs, while keeping an eye on vitamin and mineral percentages to ensure that you’re getting all of the recommended nutrients, then an occasional lower-scoring product isn’t a problem.  For example, the best chocolate bars on our site average a C+ - they are organic and contain no controversial ingredients, and they can be a great treat once in a while.  However, they don’t have any important nutrients, so it shouldn’t comprise your entire diet.

Proper nutrition is about watching calories and sodium and fat, but at FoodFacts we focus on ingredient quality as well.  For example, a sugar-free, fruit-flavored hard candy may only have ten calories apiece, but it is loaded with dangerous artificial colors, controversial sugar substitutes, unpronounceable additives and no vitamins or minerals.  It gets an F on our site.  Compare that with an organic chocolate bar which has 100 calories and 14 grams of fat per serving, but gets a C on our site because it doesn’t contain controversial ingredients. 

Our philosophy is that the chocolate bar is preferable to the hard candy.  This is because even though the hard candy has fewer calories and less fat, it does contain controversial and potentially harmful ingredients.  We believe it is better to have a treat made from whole, real ingredients than an over-processed, over-sweetened, artificially dyed and flavored candy.  Of course, keep in mind that  the C rating for the chocolate bar also indicates that we don’t recommend eating it every day.

The Bottom Line?  Use the score to give you a general sense about a product; consuming mostly A and B foods with the occasional C or D can be a healthy, nutritious diet.

 

As always, Foodfacts does not provide medical advice.  Questions about your health and nutrition should be addressed with a medical professional.  This article represents our opinion and is not intended to replace or supplement a doctor’s recommendation.