Is your favorite low-sodium soup really healthy? How about that “skinny” popcorn that you munch on all day? If you’re curious about what’s in your food — beyond what you can learn from reading a nutrition label — then Food Scores, the new, free online database and mobile app from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) is perfect for you.
“Whether a person is making a shopping list or using a smartphone to scan items in the store, EWG’s Food Scores empowers people to shop for healthier products and reward the companies that make them,” says Ken Cook, EWG’s president and co-founder. “We feel confident that this tool will drive the marketplace towards greener, simpler and healthier products.”
Food Scores gives you the power to transform the contents of your pantry. You can rate more than 80,000 foods, across approximately 1,500 brands, by typing a product name into the search engine. The total score rates three issues: nutrition content; ingredient concerns (pesticides, additives, contaminants) and degree of processing. Meat and dairy products are analyzed for hormone and antibiotic levels.
The information comes from LabelINSIGHT®, an independent product label database and analysis platform, which provides details on packaged foods that carry a barcode. To teach us a little about our food supply, EWG also released general information about the 80,000 foods rated.
One of the most important issues it identified was the prevalence of sugar. Nearly 60 percent of the foods contained some type of added sugar — a sobering fact to consider during November, American Diabetes Month.
If you think your granola bar is healthy, for example, run it through the database. EWG reports that 92 percent of granola and trail mix bars contain sugar. In one-third, the sugar is almost a third of the bar’s weight.
EWG also discovered that 100 percent of stuffing mixes and more than 74 percent of deli meats had high amounts of the sweetener.
Follow these tips on using the database to improve your diet:
Go low. The database offers each food a score from 1 to 10. The lower the score the better, with a score of 1 reserved for the healthiest fare.
Make it personal. You can customize the nutrition information you gather on each product to highlight issues of concern to you, such as pregnancy, life stage and gender.
Look for specifics. You can limit your search to foods that reflect your dietary choices. For example, you can look for foods that are certified organic, GMO-free or gluten-free.
So this weekend — whether you are heading to the supermarket or want to make over your eating plan — give Food Scores a try: click here to download the app or log on to EWG’s site.
About Fierce Fridays — Tips for Weekend Well-Being
We each cherish those precious days off at the end of the week, but increasingly those of us who are charter members of the sisterhood of the stressed and overworked are losing our Saturday and Sunday leisure time to weekend work and domestic duties.
To make sure that you do something every weekend that’s just for you, we’ll be sharing a little advice to make those 48 hours a great time to recharge your batteries, bring a little good news into your life or discover a quick and easy way to improve your health.