(Family Features) For many, making better-for-you food decisions and staying physically active go hand in hand with maintaining a quality lifestyle.
According to an article published by the Mayo Clinic, those who engage in regular physical activity enjoy the benefits of improved mood, more energy, better sleep and much more. For consumers who want to maintain healthy lifestyles, the NuVal(r) Nutritional Scoring System, which is found in grocery stores across the U.S., is easy to use for identifying summer snacks and meal items to energize fitness activities.
“Consumers deserve to get the most nutritional bang for their buck,” says Mike Nugent, NuVal General Manager. “That’s why NuVal scores were developed – to support healthy lifestyles. The scores analyze the nutrition facts on food labels boiling them down to a single 1 to 100 score. With 100 being the most nutritious, higher scores mean better nutrition, allowing consumers to make at-a-glance nutrition comparisons as they shop.”
Developed by a team of recognized experts, the scoring system was created as a direct response to America’s rapidly rising rates of obesity and diabetes in both the adult and child populations.
Displayed directly on shelf price tags in the grocery store, scores are determined by an independent team of nutrition and medical experts who analyze more than 30 nutrition factors such as vitamin D, omega 3 fatty acids, saturated fat and calories. The experts do the research, so consumers can feel better about their food choices. The scores do not tell consumers what to buy or eat; but simply reflect the overall nutritional quality of a food making it easy for consumers to compare nutrition as they do price.
“No matter what their food plan, the scores guide people in shopping for anything from produce and dairy to snacks and packaged goods,” adds Nugent. “If you can count to 100, you can use the system to shop, cook, eat and feel better.”
Step up to summer fitness
While it’s important to be physically active all year, many people simply find themselves more active in summer – both because the outdoors beckons and there is more time for recreation. This creates an opportunity to fit in more daily physical activity, which generally means some potential to build lean muscle mass, lose excess body fat and get more fit.
According to Dr. David Katz, M.D., M.P.H. – founding director of Yale University’s Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center and the principal inventor of the science behind NuVal scores – the more active you are, the more performance fuel your body needs.
“The increased activity level of summer is a perfect time to think about trading up food choices, improving overall diet quality, and establishing a foundation for better overall health and vitality,” says Dr. Katz.
For optimal fueling, Dr. Katz offers the following tips:
* Pick foods with dual duties. Some foods are ideal for meeting the needs of high quality nutrition, as well as concentrated fuel for an active lifestyle. Some great food options include nuts, seeds and nut butters; fresh and dried fruits; beans and lentils; and whole grains. Protein sources are dairy (think non-fat Greek yogurt), eggs and lean meats.
* Embrace seasonal dishes. Summer is a great time for salads. Options are almost limitless. Consuming an abundance of vegetables is always a great place to start; but also consider a good protein source to provide the energy you need. Bean and lentil salads are a great fuel-up option.
* Know when to eat. Before exertion, avoid eating too much, so blood flows to working muscles rather than to digestion. Before workout, eating some fresh, seasonal fruit might be ideal. Post workout, replenish what exercise has burned with fruit, nuts, whole grains and a protein source.
* Snack small and often. Small portions of nuts and dried fruits, separately or together, make a great snack. Snack bars made from nuts and dried fruits – and little else – are a good option as well, and especially convenient when on the go.
* Be active at any age. If older and new to exercise, ease in and build up gradually. Walking, biking on relatively flat terrain, and swimming are excellent activities. All motion is good motion, so it is essential to find what you like. Dancing counts; so does yoga or anything else that has you up and going.
* Hydrate. As for hydration, water is generally best. Invest in a quality water container to have with you throughout the day – and during your workout.
For more tips to feel your best and get the most out of those summer months, visit www.nuval.com.
Break a sweat
Incorporate these summer activities into your schedule and enjoy new ways to boost your fitness routine:
* Biking/ mountain biking
Consuming a variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables throughout the day is a great way to fuel up physical activity and add nutrients vital to keeping cells healthy and protected. Here are some summer produce picks, along with NuVal scores. (Higher scores equal better nutrition.)
* Apricots (NuVal 100)
* Avocados (NuVal 88)
* Bananas (NuVal 100)
* Blueberries (NuVal 100)
* Broccoli (NuVal 100)
* Cantaloupe (NuVal 100)
* Carrots (NuVal 100)
* Cucumbers (NuVal 100)
* Green beans (NuVal 100)
* Iceberg lettuce (NuVal 94)
* Mangoes (NuVal 100)
* Peppers (NuVal 100)
* Tomatoes (NuVal 100)
Photos courtesy of Getty Images
Source: NuVal Nutritional Scoring System