Guiding Stars takes the guesswork out of nutritious shopping.

Shelf TagsAs you go through each aisle of the store or navigate through your cafeteria, the Guiding Stars program can help you identify more nutritious choices. We rate the nutritional quality of food using information from the Nutrition Facts Panel and the ingredients list. Foods are rated and receive a score based on the assignment of credits and debits.

  • One Guiding Star indicates good nutritional value
  • Two Guiding Stars indicate better nutritional value
  • Three Guiding Stars indicate the best nutritional value

Guiding Stars is not intended to tell you what to buy, but rather point you toward foods that have more vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, whole grains, and omega-3 fatty acids –and less saturated and trans fats, added sugar and sodium, and artificial colors. Guiding Stars is objective, based on consumer research, and not influenced by price, brand or manufacturer trade groups. With over 100,000 rated foods, making nutritious choices for you and your family is now simple… and even fun.

Guiding Stars starts with evidence-based nutrition science.

Conference at the Fishmongers' Hall on Friday 2nd November 2012 "The Mediterranean Diet Revisited"
Scientific Advisor Kelley Fitzpatrick speaks at Fishmongers’ Hall on “The Mediterranean Diet Revisited.”

Our Scientific Advisory Panel monitors the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans, as well as the recommendations of leading national and international health organizations such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Academy of Sciences and the World Health Organization. We adjust our algorithm as the science shows us a new reason to promote or avoid certain nutrients.

Scientific consensus informs our patented algorithm for rating food fairly.

According to the consensus of the nutrition science community, we give specific nutrients credits or debits. Debits are given to nutrients that are best to limit in our diets. Credits are given to nutrients we should generally be eating more of. Our patented algorithm looks at the balance of these credits and debits to determine the nutrient density per 100 calories. This allows us to rate foods individually against a strict standard, instead of simply comparing them to each other.

Download the white paper about our algorithm (PDF) »

Credits Debits
Vitamins Saturated Fat
Minerals Trans Fat
Fiber Added Sodium
Whole Grains Added Sugar
Omega-3s Artificial Colors

We look at the same nutrient information that’s available to the public.

Our algorithm looks directly at the information provided by the FDA-governed Nutrition Facts Panel present on all prepared foods. We also analyze the ingredients list, which is especially important when considering whether a food should be debited for added sugars. If a food, such as fresh produce, doesn’t have listed nutrition facts, we use the USDA’s National Nutrient Database.

Our algorithm recognizes that not all diets are created equal.

In situations where the recommendations for a diet vary, so does our algorithm. Infant formula and medical foods, for example, are not rated because we recognize that inclusion of these foods in a diet should be supervised by your doctor. Food for babies and toddlers is rated on a separate algorithm, recognizing that the dietary recommendations are different for children under the age of two.

Ready to start using Guiding Stars to improve your family’s nutrition?

Want more information about the way Guiding Stars works? Explore our FAQs section.