Dr. Gourmet's Health & Nutrition Bites

Timothy S. Harlan, M.D.

Way back in 2010 I wrote about a study looking at whether college students would make healthier food choices when the foods were labeled with shelf tags that indicated their relative healthfulness. The sales of four categories of foods carrying the labels were analyzed for a five week period and compared with a six week period in which the labels were not on the products. The authors found that in three of the four categories the students were only slightly more likely to choose the healthier items.

You've probably seen some form of this shelf labeling at your own grocery store. The three most popular types include a traffic light-style label, a label with stars (more being better), and a single number called NuVal. This scoring system assigns a number from 1 to 100 (higher being better) to each of over 120,000 different food items based on not just their overall nutrient content but also how that nutrient affects or is linked to health conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes.

The authors of today's article (J Marketing Res 2015;52(6):817-835) essentially repeat the previous study, but on a much, much larger scale. Shelf scores help improve food choices »

Did You Know?

Our online meal planner is absolutely free! With The Dr. Gourmet Diet Plan you can create customized two-week meal plans for just yourself or your entire family, including breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Includes printable shopping lists for each week, so you can save time and money by doing all of your grocery shopping at once. Create plans for people with GERD / Acid Reflux, Lactose Intolerance, Gluten allergies, or those who take Coumadin (warfarin). All plans are appropriate for those with Type 2 Diabetes, as well. Find out why.

Planning is the key to a healthy diet and a healthy weight, and The Dr. Gourmet Diet Plan makes eating well and eating healthy easy. Find out more!

Lose Weight

Just tell me what to eat!
Use our FREE interactive meal planner and reach your goal of healthy, permanent weight loss.

The Mediterranean Diet

Shrimp Taco Salad
What is a Mediterranean Diet? Find out how familiar foods are part of this healthy style of eating.

Ask Dr. Gourmet

Have a question about food or nutrition? Dr. Harlan answers your questions. Ask Dr. Gourmet.

Eat Healthy

It's easier than you think to eat well and eat healthy. Find out how to make eating healthy part of your life.

Healthy Recipes

Delicious, healthy recipes that taste great? Yes! Try an easy, healthy recipe from Dr. Gourmet today.


Learn how to make the most out of your exercise with easy-to-follow exercise videos and training plans.

Learn to Eat for My Condition

Zucchini SoupCoumadin (warfarin) Diet

This guide will help you manage your Vitamin K intake while still eating great food. Lists of foods that are high (and low) in Vitamin K, Coumadin-safe recipes and more! Coumadin (warfarin) Diet Information | Get the book! The Coumadin Diet and Cookbook (paperback: $19.95 + s/h) (PDF: $14.95)

Shrimp ScampiGERD / Acid Reflux / Heartburn Diet

This five-step guide to reducing the burn comes with easy tummy tips and delicious recipes to help you manage your reflux. Managing Your GERD / Acid Reflux / Heartburn Get the book! The Dr. Gourmet Diet for People with GERD / Acid Reflux: (paperback: $19.95 + s/h) (PDF: $14.95)

Glass of MilkLactose Intolerance Diet

It's not unusual to have difficulty digesting lactose and needing to avoid foods containing cheese or milk. This index will help guide you to Dr. Gourmet recipes you'll safely enjoy. Lactose Intolerant Recipe Guide and More Information

FishDiabetes Diet

What is the best diet for those with diabetes? A Mediterranean Diet! For diabetics, eating well is THE key to controlling blood sugar. For those with Type 2 diabetes, The Mediterranean Diet seems to help you control your diabetes better, without medication. The Best Diabetes Diet


Fast Food Guide

Burger and Fries

What are the healthiest choices at fast food restaurants? We've compiled a list: Fast Food Guide

Food Reviews

TV Dinner

We've reviewed frozen meals and convenience foods so you can eat well and eat healthy.

News You Can Use

the ingredients for a healthy fish soup

Health and nutrition news and what it means for you. Health and Nutrition Bites.

The How and Why of Eating Healthy

Place Setting

Simple, straightforward articles on eating healthy in the real world. The How and Why of Eating Healthy.

A Healthy Pregnancy

a breastfeeding baby

Pregnant or planning to be? Diet tips, do's and don'ts for your pregnancy. A Healthy Pregnancy

Healthy Eating for Kids

Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Healthy snack ideas and diet guide for the children in your life. Healthy Eating for Kids and Young Adults


Featured Recipes

Cauliflower Pie

While this is called Cauliflower Pie, it is really very much like a crustless quiche. The best part of this dish is that it keeps really well and is actually tastier cold (in my opinion). Serve it any time of day: breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Smokey Black Eyed Peas

Smokey Black Eyed Peas recipe from Dr. Gourmet

In the South it is traditional to make black eyed peas with bacon, salt pork or even sausage. The meat brings both saltiness and great umami flavor to the peas, but also brings added calories in extra fat.

This version is perfect for both vegetarians and those wanting to avoid the added fat. The combination of the smokiness from the paprika, the umami flavor in the dried mushrooms, and the savory Worcestershire sauce makes for a robust, smoky flavor.

Hoppin' John

I love black eyed peas because I love legumes, but I also love that their flavor is so soft and creamy. This recipe is a traditional Southern dish and can be as hot or as mild as you wish. I prefer a bit of cayenne but you can also use hot sauce.

Leeks and Greens

"No one has as much luck around the greens as one who practices a lot."
-Chi Chi Rodriguez, Golfer

Chi Chi was, of course, talking about putting greens that take practice but the more you practice cooking greens, the more you will love them and the healthier you will be. This recipe combines the sweetness of the leeks with the bitter greens and with just a bit of salt, honey, and nutmeg, it brings a soft, spicy taste to the dish.

Ask Dr. Gourmet!

It's easy to get answers about health and nutrition! Just send your question by email to askdrgourmet@drgourmet.com and Dr. Harlan will respond to selected questions of general interest. Answers will be posted in the Ask Dr. Gourmet newsletter (sign up now!) and archived in the Ask Dr. Gourmet section of the website.

What's New in Ask Dr. Gourmet

Why do you use so much water in your rice recipes?
Is corn a starch or a vegetable?
Is the green layer under the skin of my yellow potatoes harmful?
Will eating fruit on an empty stomach make my hair turn grey or make me bloated?

Please note that the Ask Dr. Gourmet feature is restricted to questions regarding food and nutrition. Due to the many questions we receive, not all questions may be answered. For more specific questions about your individual health, please contact your doctor. About Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy

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