As interest in nutrition continues to grow, various systems have emerged purporting to help consumers distinguish between good-for-you foods and not-so-healthy choices. Some come from food conglomerates themselves (e.g., Kraft’s “Sensible Solutions,” Pepsico’s “Smart Spot”); some from grocery chains (e.g., Hannaford's Guiding Stars); while some are the creations of independent researchers (e.g., NuVal, Overall Nutrition Quality Index, etc.). Of all, NuVal seems to have gained the greatest traction.
In a nutshell, the NuVal system scores a food from 1 (worst) to 100 (best), using an algorithm to calculate a ratio of "good" to "bad" nutrients. Fruit and vegetables, for example, score at or close to 100. But there are some quirks. For example, NuVal appears to equate the nutrition value of pineapple canned in juice with Doritos Nacho Cheese Chips -- both receive a score of 24. In other words, it doesn't do so well at comparing foods in different categories (which would seem to be the point of such a system).