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Shopping by Numbers

Buying healthy can be tough with all of the choices we are presented with at the supermarket. Well Yale University is trying to help with this by developing a number system that helps you quickly evaluate the benefits of a food. The new system, developed by Yale University's Griffin Prevention Research Center, is called the Overall Nutritional Quality Index or ONQI and it will unveiled this month in thousands of markets.

The ONQI ranks foods on a scale of 1 to 100 based on nutrients, sugar, vitamins, salt, impact on blood pressure and other human health issues. Here's a sampling pulled from their website:

Food Score

Raw Broccoli 100

Apple 96

Plain Oatmeal 88

Almonds, dry roasted 82

Barley, cooked 63

Orange Juice 39

Diet Soda 15

Regular Soda 1


My personal opinion is that the easiest way to eat healthy is to eat things as close to their natural state as possible and this is born out by the ONQI list which has raw fruits and vegetables at the top of their list. I buy almost no processed food except for cereal, sprouted bread, oat milk, olive oil and coconut oil. The vast majority of our food money is spent on organic fruit, vegetables, seeds and nuts that are mostly purchased at a farmer's market (TIP: farmer's markets are WAY cheaper, 25-75%, than supermarkets). However, if eating this way isn't for you (yet), than this new system is a great way to help you easily identify nutritious food. From looking at a list of ONQI foods listed in this month's National Geographic, I have to say that it looks like the best foods are actually those with a score of 80 and above.

More stores plan on adopting the ONQI in 2009.

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