How Healthy Is That Food? A New Way to Go Beyond the Label

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Chances are, by now, you’ve become a pretty adept label reader. But it can still be overwhelming navigating the supermarket aisles, especially with so many new products marketed as “healthier” and “more wholesome.” You can only learn so much from the ingredients list at a quick glance—and who has the time to scrutinize every product when they’re at the store?

Luckily, there’s a handy new online tool that we’ve fallen in love with from the fabulous Environmental Working Group (EWG). Yup, that’s the same nonprofit that produces the trusty Skin Deep Guide to Cosmetics, so you know there are no corporate or food lobby profits interfering with their findings. The EWG just released their groundbreaking Food Scores database, which lets you view information on 80,000 foods and 5,000 ingredients from 1,500 brands.

The database uses a unique ranking system to score each food based on several factors:

1. Nutrition

Calories, saturated fat, trans fat, sugar, sodium, protein, fiber and fruit, vegetable and nut content.

2. Ingredient concerns

This looks at the likely presence of key contaminants (like mercury, which a food label will never say), pesticides, hormones and antibiotics and certain food additives.

3. Processing

This looks at just how much a food has been modified, taking into account the modification of individual ingredients, number of artificial ingredients and other factors.

 

A quick snapshot of Cheez-It crackers, for example, shows that it gets a score of 9.0 out of 10 (10 being the worst score).

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Each concern is then broken out even more, explaining what the possible issues are, such as arsenic in rice-based ingredients and containing dairy-based ingredients that may have been treated with antibiotics.

Also launching, there’s a totally portable mobile app, which makes it easier to check in on foods while you’re on the go. Check it out and find the rankings for some of the foods currently in your pantry. You’ll never look at some foods the same way again!

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