As nutritionist at Dr. Kenneth Cooper's Aerobics Center, Vartabedian devised his nutripoint system as the dietary equivalent of Dr. Cooper's ""aerobic points"" for exercise. The system assigns a numerical rating to each of 3000 foods, from abalone and alfalfa sprouts to about 50 different Wendy's offerings and 30 commercial yogurt variations, by measuring amounts of eight nutrients (protein, calcium, vitamin C, etc.) and eight ""excessives"" (fat, cholesterol, sugar, etc.) in each food, then balancing out the ""good"" and ""bad"" elements in each. Thus a serving of baked haddock has 2.5 nutripoints, cantaloupe 29, and McDonald's port sausage a negative rating of-3.5. To follow the program, you select a recommended number and size of servings from each of six food groups (fruit, vegetables, grain, etc.) and make sure they add up to 100 or 150 points a day, depending on your weight and activity level. In this way, says Vartabedian, you can forget about calories, vitamins, and all the rest and just add up points. You will of course be carrying these long rating lists around to restaurants and grocery stores, but that alone might help keep you on course. It's not easy, even for a ""healthful"" eater, with negative points off for every drop of coffee, wine and oil! In nutritional terms, the formula works well, with the few significant exceptions duly noted (for example, liver comes out with a high number despite its high cholesterol count). And it's safe: If nutripoints become a craze, as the 150,000 first printing is aiming for, this will be one ""fad"" diet based on sound, widely accepted principles: recommended daily allowances for nutrients, official guidelines for excessives.