If you want to get educated about the food you eat, you might start by checking out Fooducate, a website, iOS and Android app that grades the food and beverages we purchase from supermarkets and fast food outlets.
Fooducate consists of a team of parents, dieticians, and techies who have established a way to evaluate the ingredients in food and report on their nutritional value. From sandwiches and breakfast foods, to meat, fish and baby food formula, Fooducate reveals both the healthy ingredients and the not so healthy additives that food manufactures don’t always want you to notice.
With Fooducate (and similar nutritional information websites, including sites for kids, and these web applications for dieters) you can learn about the healthy snacks that receive good grades, and those so-called “delicious” edibles that contain excessive sugar, tricky trans-fats, additives and preservatives, high fructose corn syrup, controversial food colorings, and confusing serving sizes.
Fooducate.com is an attractively-designed website chock full of data about all categories of food and beverages. If you’re like me and you’re not always a health conscious eater, you should hop over to the site and do a search of the snacks and meal items you regularly eat. For instance, you probably already know that soft drinks like Pepsi and Coke get an automatic D for their number of calories per serving (10.5 table spoons of sugar per 12 ounce can!) and their other poor ingredients, including phosphoric acid and caramel coloring.
But you may not know that seemingly healthy snacks like Chex Mix Trail Mix get a C- grade for their trans-fats, controversial artificial colors, the additive BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene), and hydrogenated oils. In fact, it would take another paragraph to list all its ingredients.
Fooducate is not just about poorly graded foods and beverages, it contains a browsable database of healthy fruits and vegetables, meat and fish, fast food, dips, spreads and jams, and baby food. As you might guess, fast food items like Starbucks Perfect Oatmeal (without the toppings!) receives a B grade for its whole grain rolled oats, but it receives poor marks for the industrial food coloring, which the site says “is made by reacting sugars with ammonia and sulphites under high pressure and temperatures.” This, of course, is not how you make homemade caramel.
Fooducate is a site you probably want to bookmark and subscribe to. In addition to its product database, the site provides email updates, daily tips and articles (e.g., do you know that orange juice is not as healthy as may think it is?), and a Nutrition 101 page that links to important information you should know about the three macronutrients, nutrition buzzwords including antioxidants, omega 3, and cholesterol, and facts about sugar, caffeine, and MSG (monosodium glutamate).
The site explains its A to D grading system, which it says is based on information that is publicly available on the packages of products. The grading algorithm awards less processed foods with the highest grades, and poor grades for products with built-in nutrients that use so-called fortified additives that make them appear healthy. The site says that the only food that gets an A+ is that which you grow in your backyard or buy directly from a farmer.
Scan Before You Buy Apps
You may find Fooducate most useful while shopping in the supermarket. Its iPhone (free and $4.99 version) and Android (free and ) apps mirror the features and sections of the website, but they also include a handy barcode scanner for quickly getting the graded data about products you’re considering purchasing.
The Fooducate nutrition app is very useful for comparison shopping to see which products are more healthy and why. If you register a Fooducate account, you can add items to your personal grocery list, leave comments about food items, and read the daily tips posted on the Fooducate website.
You can also log the food and beverage items you eat to keep track of the amount of calories in each serving. The app asks you to input your age, height and weight (in the Personalize settings) to help determine your body index and caloric needs. You can also use the app’s Health Tracker screen to add food that is not in the Fooducate database, as well as log the number of calories you burn by inputting physical activities.
The premium version of Fooducate includes no advertising, priority support, GMO information that reports genetically modified organisms in food items, a personalized ratings for heart health, low cholesterol, hypertension, vegetarian, and vegan profiles.
Know What You’re Eating
Fooducate says that it is not funded by the food, drug, diet or supplement industries, nor does it peddle dietary solutions and exotic supplements. The site simply seeks to help shoppers make healthier choices about the food they eat, and to effect a positive change on the food industry.
Let us know what you think of Fooducate, and how it has made you more knowledgeable about your favorite foods in the comments below.
Image credit: 14/52 Value (Matt)