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The best way to use the  NuVal® System is to “trade up” from what you're currently eating to a higher scoring product. Even the smallest jump in scores can have an impact on your health.

Nutrition By The Numbers

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Want to understand more about why particular foods score a certain way? Want to know more about the nutritional value of your favorite foods? Want to learn more about how best to use the NuVal® Scores? Read our Expert Answers below. If you don't see your question answered, ask our experts. 




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Cereal manufacturers have been advertising their products as being made with “whole grain.” Is that better or worse than “whole wheat”?

Whole grain is the broad classification, indicating any grain where the entire grain – bran, germ and endosperm – are included. Whole wheat is one type of whole grain, but other grains in their “whole” form are also used in foods. These grains include oats, barley, brown rice, quinoa, and even popcorn.

Why do some sweet cereals receive NuVal Scores similar to more “adult” cereals (such as corn flakes)?

NuVal scores are such a useful tool for consumers because they factor in the overall nutrition quality of the food vs. focusing on just a few nutrients. Cereals can have more sodium than the consumer might expect, which can affect the NuVal score. Also, when scoring, caps are placed on fortified vitamins and minerals to prevent them from over-influencing other nutrients and the overall NuVal score. So while sweet cereals may have more sugar than some traditional “adult” cereals, there are other nutrients that are impacting the scores as well.

How does dried fruit in a cereal (where the fruit comes in the box) affect the NuVal score? Is it more nutritious to add my own fruit to cereal?

Most of us can benefit from getting more fruits and vegetables into our eating habits. That said, adding your own fruit to cereal (choosing those with the highest NuVal score, of course) is the better choice as you can make sure you’re adding a full serving of fruit. Also, some dried fruits include added sugar, which you avoid by adding your own fresh fruit.

If I add 1 teaspoon of sugar to shredded wheat or other high-scoring cereal, how does that affect the NuVal score?

Four grams of sugar is equal to one teaspoon. So when comparing cereals specifically based on their sugar content, consider the grams of sugar listed on the Nutrition Facts Panel as well as any sugar you generally add when eating the cereal. Any amount of added sugar will drive the NuVal score down, but making a strong cereal choice such as shredded wheat (which can score as high as a 91 depending on the brand) is a great idea for your health.

How does the type of milk I use affect a cereal's score?

When choosing milk to enjoy with your cereal, look for milk with the highest NuVal score. Skim milk, for example, scores 100 and is a great choice from an overall nutrition quality standpoint.

Why do sherbets and sorbets score lower than ice cream? I thought they would score better because of the reduced fat?

Two reasons: First, these items don’t contain positive nutrients that would raise their scores. Second, sherbets and sorbets are essentially frozen sugar water and all the calories come from sugar. NuVal is about finding the most nutrition for your calories. These items are essentially empty calories, so they rank poorly on the NuVal scale.