Tools for Evaluating the Nutritional Value of Foods


When determining the healthiest foods to eat, what tool do you use to measure the overall nutritional value of the food?
What features would you like to see in the ideal tool?

Nutritional Analysis
Nutrition Education
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Nutritional Medicine
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Roy Vartabedian, DrPH, MPH
4 months ago

4 answers


Organic - the last thing I want to ingest is pesticides, chemicals, and/or preservatives. Whole foods in their natural state - I always ask two questions of my clients when counseling them on nutrition: 1) Would your great grandmother serve it on her table? and 2) How do you FEEL after you eat a meal? If it is nutrient-dense, people report feeling energized and ready to take on the day. If they feel bloated, fatigued, and end up with all sorts of cravings, then I have to point out the quality of the food ingested is most likely the culprit.

Sherry Granader
4 months ago
So you would say (1) Is it organic? and (2) Is it nutrient dense whole food? Two great criteria. - Roy 4 months ago


I live by my lifestyle nutrition: Foods with no added sugar, no added salt and no processed omega-6 in the right amount, at the right time, and prepared in a healthy manner. Additions include omega-3 fats and fiber.

Reading the ingredient list and nutrition facts label is the best tool to enable this lifestyle. Additional items for the label include omega-3 amount, omega-6 amount, O-6/O-3 ratio, glycemic load, and inflammation index.

Best wishes for good health and success.

Dr. Gary Epler

Gary Epler
4 months ago
That sounds great, Dr. Gary. Do you like the idea of an overall nutritional index to rate the foods (one number or grade), or do you prefer to read the ingredient list and nutrition label? - Roy 4 months ago
Roy - an overall nutritional index is too general for me. I prefer the ingredient list and facts list, although an overall inflammation index would be very useful.Gary - Gary 4 months ago
Thanks for your input. - Roy 4 months ago

I follow the paleo diet. So no dairy, soy, grains, and minimally processed foods. I consume meats that are humanly raised and grass fed. Wild Caught Fish.
This type of diet may seem really hard, but it isn't. It is literally everything as natural as possible. It is not necessarily about the quantity of food, but the quality.
The best tool out there is a label or information that tells me exactly where the food came from.

Ryan Cahall
4 months ago
Thank you, Ryan. Seems like a lot of peope are now on a Paleo-type of diet. - Roy 4 months ago

Nutritional science has long linked high glycemic index foods with a host of diet-related disease, from Cardiovascular disease and diabetes to obesity, including cancer. Indeed diabetic individuals are mandated to eat foods with a Glycemic Index of 55 or less. While Glycemic Index is not a truly precise measurement, but based on a mini clinical trial, it provides a reference for blood sugar rise from a specific food intake. However the FDA has failed to implement any reasonable glycemic labeling requirement since the inception of the Glycemic Index in 1995 (Jenkins et al.), while allowing a host of useless and obsolete high-fat related label claims.

Clearly the FDA is vested in keeping our country in a state of diet- related disease by maintaining that high sugar and high glycemic foods are safe to eat. We can surely create helpful and insightful nutritional value guidance, but the general public won't ever see it on a label, while the FDA is run by big food corporations.

Marco Aurilio
3 months ago
Marco, the problem with the Glycemic Index is that it is a proprietary measurement, and is not analyzed for all foods. To get the Index, a test needs to be done on a small group of individuals to average all of their glucose responses. In addition, there are individual variances due to genetics/microbiome. GI only tells you one dimension of a food, nothing about the overall nutritional value. - Roy 3 months ago
yes Roy I agree and am clear on how the number is obtained. My point is that high GI is the single factor in foods that seems to be related to the top 4 diet-related diseases, and coincidentally the thing that is eliminated in most "healthy" diets such as paleo and keto, etc.. If we could nail down nutrient density or probiotic quality with a number such as ORAC, that would be great.;) - Marco 3 months ago
My Nutripoints system rates foods for 18 positive and 8 negative factors in foods and give one number that represents the overall nutritional value of foods. Check it out and let me know what you think. Here is more info: - Roy 3 months ago

Have some input?