If you’re trying to eat healthy, then be wary of all the misleading food labels that scream “organic” or “all natural.” Marketing hype has successfully infiltrated the food industry and food manufacturers have managed to find loopholes in the FDA’s rule book to mislead consumers that their products are healthier than they really are. For instance, did you know that if the amount of trans-fat in a product is less than half a gram per serving, manufacturers can rounded it down to 0 and actually indicate in the label that a product has “0 trans-fat”?
The only way to get the real deal about the nutritional value (or lack thereof) of products is to look at their full ingredient list and determine if they contain unhealthy or even harmful substances. The only problem with this is a lot of the things listed in a product’s ingredient list go by their scientific names. Not everyone knows what “partially hydrogenated oil” means, and if you’re not a nutritionist, you could end up getting products that aren’t good for you.
Thankfully, there’s Fooducate, a mobile app that enables consumers to get the lowdown on the real nutritional value of a product with a just a tap of the button. Available for the iPhone and Android devices, Fooducate has a barcode scanner that you can use to determine how healthy a product is.
Fooducate has a wide database of products and ingredients that allow it to grade foods. When you scan a product’s barcode, it will give a grade from A to D based on what’s inside it. It also recommends alternatives, which are products in the same category, but with higher grades, allowing you to make better choices.
Fooducate uses grading algorithms developed by nutrition professors and dietitians. According to their website, the algorithms that they use to grade products “are based on the concept of nutrient density of foods. The more nutrient dense a food is, the better it is for you.” Fooducate’s algorithms add points to foods with a lot nutrients, such as fiber, Vitamin C, and calcium, and it subtracts points for products that contain saturated fat, sodium, and sugar. Essentially, “minimally processed, real foods with intrinsic nutrients will score better than processed foods that are poor in built-in nutrients.”
Fooducate is also an unbiased resource, as the app’s system is based on the ingredients listed on the products. The Fooducate team doesn’t receive any input from manufacturers.
The best thing about the app is that it translates product labels into plain English. When Fooducate gives you a grade, it also provides simple bullet point explanations behind it. It tells you if a product contains trans-fats even if the label says zero, and it clarifies confusing serving sizes and translates those big words and ingredients.
The app comes in very handy especially when you’re browsing the shelves in the supermarket. If you want to check how healthy a product is, simply scan the product’s barcode using your smartphone. You can also manually search for product by typing in your term and hitting the search button.
Whether you’re a person who simply wants to have a more nutritious diet, or a parent who doesn’t want to expose your kids to unhealthy products, Fooducate is definitely an app that can point you to the right direction. Download it today. It’s never too late (or early) to start making healthier choices.