Nutrient-conscious consumers and dietary professionals keen to make informed food choices now are tapping a new data resource available through the Agricultural Research Service (ARS).
Scientists with the ARS Nutrient Data Laboratory (NDL) in Beltsville, Md., recently launched an online directory where users can look up the amount of a specified nutrient within any one of 1,147 food items. The consumer appeal of the new online directory is evident from the number of e-mail inquiries that have originated from the NDL home page, which has already received more than 100,000 visitors so far this year. To aid consumers, data in the new online directory are served up by commonly consumed portion sizes.
The directory was made possible by NDL’s new Nutrient Databank System, which was developed in part to make it easier to disseminate web-based information. The system’s premier web-based product, the Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, or SR14, features more than 6,000 food items and provides a foundation for most public and private nutrient databases in the United States.
To access the database, go to:
Click on "Reports by Single Nutrients"--the link is on the left about 10 lines from the top. The resulting page has a table listing nutrients such as protein, calcium, fiber, carbohydrate, cholesterol or fats. By clicking on the button by each nutrient's name, a web visitor can sort the 1,147 food items in the directory according to the content of that nutrient.
For example, a person whose doctor recommends eating more dietary fiber might look up all foods in the directory by fiber content from highest to lowest. A consumer concerned about increasing calcium intake might look up the calcium content of various foods. The same individual might also choose to view all 1,147 food items alphabetically from A to Z, with a parallel column at right displaying each food item’s corresponding calcium content.
NDL does not provide dietary advice, but instead recommends nutrition counseling by qualified professionals referred by dietetic associations, health departments or hospitals.
ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s chief scientific research agency.