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Responding to evolving scientific evidence and changes reflected in the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, Guiding Stars Licensing Co. has updated its Guiding Stars nutrition guidance for dietary cholesterol. The program’s nutrition rating algorithm no longer imposes debits on foods that contain dietary cholesterol; only foods with the highest amounts of dietary cholesterol (300 mg or more per 100 calories) will not earn stars.
The algorithm, according to Guiding Stars, allows nutritious-yet-cholesterol-containing foods such as eggs and shrimp to earn stars. The inclusion of eggs, in particular, is a positive development for consumers who seek affordable, nutrient-dense sources of high-quality protein: While once mistakenly seen as a high-cholesterol food for which consumption should be limited, they now are valued for their richness in amino acids, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
“The science on dietary cholesterol has evolved,” said Leslie Fischer, PhD, MPH, RD, a scientific advisor at Guiding Stars, co-founder of Nutrigenetics Specialists and former faculty member in the nutrition department at the University of North Carolina. “Recent research shows that for most individuals, blood cholesterol is the primary driver of heart disease and associated adverse health conditions, not dietary cholesterol. The research also indicates that dietary cholesterol isn’t as much of a factor in overall blood cholesterol levels as we once thought. As the top nutrition guidance program, Guiding Stars is committed to providing evidence-based ratings to help consumers make healthy choices, so the algorithm was changed to reflect the new scientific consensus.”
The Guiding Stars algorithm and ratings criteria are publicly available and accessible on the organization’s website, Guiding Stars said. The program uses information from the Nutrition Facts Panel and ingredients lists that appear on food packaging as well as nutrition data from the USDA National Nutrient Database, synthesizing information that consumers typically find confusing and difficult to read into a simple visual cue that indicates nutritional value. By using an algorithm to create a score based on the assignment of credits and debits, Guiding Stars makes it clear which foods provide the best nutrition, and that makes it easy for anyone to choose more nutritious foods.
Guiding Stars currently is in more than 1,500 U.S. supermarkets, including Hannaford, Food Lion, Homeland, Marsh Supermarkets, B&R and Price Chopper (Kansas City). In Canada, Guiding Stars is offered exclusively through Loblaw Companies Limited, and currently is in more than 900 stores from British Columbia to Newfoundland through Loblaws and its affiliated banner stores Atlantic Superstore, Dominion, Fortinos, ProvigoMC, ProvigoMC Le Marche, Real Canadian Superstore, Save Easy, Valu-mart, Your Independent Grocer and Zehrs. Guiding Stars can also be found in public school, college and hospital dining facilities, and is accessible through the Shopper mobile app for iOS devices.