In a well-known television advertisement for mayonnaise they said something like “Life is not made to count calories.” And it is true. Nothing more maddening (and perhaps not very effective) than spending our days calorie goes, calorie comes. However, sometimes it can be useful to know how to calculate calories , and, even more, to know the nutritional composition of some foods.
For people with diabetes, those with high cholesterol, or those with a particular vitamin or mineral deficiency (for example, calcium, vitamin D, or iron), it may be helpful to have a referral tool to answer specific questions about some food, or even research which ones may be more appropriate.
Free online calorie calculators aren’t great
Those who have ever faced the internet looking for how to calculate calories with a free tool, you will have encountered one of these problems:
– The page does not offer you confidence. Who made the composition tables is not specified and the origin of the information is doubtful.
– The tool is slow or not very intuitive. Food takes time to load or hundreds of clicks are required to find what we are looking for.
And in a way, it is logical. As with design or publishing programs, nutritional assessment programs have a high cost and the home versions that are usually found for free are not the same. In the era of low cost and total free these things also happen .
Is there a reliable and free simple alternative to calculate calories?
Despite the fact that I am a faithful advocate of paying for the tools that offer value, the truth is that the woman who is looking for foods rich in calcium is not going to buy any program for it. Nor does he need. Today I want to show you a free tool endorsed by the Spanish Nutrition Foundation (FEN). The FEN is an institution that has the support, among many others, of the Spanish Medicines Agency (AESAN), of the Community of Madrid, of the General Council of Official Colleges of Pharmacists (CGCOF) and of universities such as the Complutense University of Madrid or the CEU.
The composition of the food is calculated from the Moreiras, Carbajal, Cabrera and Cuadrado tables. I was lucky to be a student of three of them in the Pharmacy faculty of the Complutense.
The tool is called The Healthy Food Market and I like it for how intuitive it is to use. This makes it a highly recommended tool for older people who use the internet, but have less ease, or even to start children in the knowledge of food. In addition, the tab for each food contains curious information about it and a simple explanation of its nutritional composition.
Case 1 . Vitamin D . Although it seems incredible, despite our theoretical high sun exposure, many Spaniards have vitamin D deficiency . We want to increase the amount of vitamin D our children consume and it sounds like we can find it in breakfast cereals, but how much would be enough? According to the FEN tables , cereals have 4.2 mcg of citamine D per 100 g. If we consider that the daily recommendation is 15 mcg, we already know that we must serve a good bowl to our children so that these cereals represent a significant percentage of the recommended intake.
If we investigate the natural combination for cereals, dairy products (currently criticized by some groups, such as the followers of the Paleo Diet ), in these pleasant files we can find some curious information about the history of milk, the first cave paintings in which appears and the famous theories of Cleopatra.
Case 2: Calcium . After the results of the densitometry, the doctor recommends us to increase the calcium intake. We have read in a certain blog that enriching dishes with sesame can be useful to increase calcium but we are not sure how much we should add. Well, we look for sesame in our Healthy Food Market and we find that it has 670 mg per 100 g.
Case 3 . Cholesterol . In the last analysis our cholesterol husband has skyrocketed (this time he is carrying the owl to the husband, who we already have enough with the densitometry of the previous case and we must distribute the misfortunes). We know which seafood is the richest in cholesterol thanks to the SpongeBob rule , however, we have doubts about some other food. For some strange reason, our husband loves his brains and wants to know if his bad reputation with regard to cholesterol is perished, or if he can treat himself.
he Apothecary’s Advice
My advice is not to become obsessed with calories, but to dive into these types of tools to have a better understanding of food composition. More than how to calculate calories , the interesting thing is to know which foods are the most appropriate to introduce or replace in our diet.
Today, for a change, I ask the advice of you, do you recommend the websites or applications that you usually consult to analyze nutrients or calculate calories?