Nutrition info sources? USDA database lacking...
This is an unusual post -- I'm not expecting too many replies but am hoping.
I've been inspired by FitDay and am working on a computer application that will hopefully be more primal-oriented than FitDay. My hope is to display O-3/6 ratios, etc, etc, etc, and everything that the primal community thinks is valuable. I may have something like analysis templates so users could choose to analyze their menu based on the Primal Blueprint recommendations, or Cordain, or whatever could be refined into explicit comparison rules. This is pretty ambitious but could be done. It will run as a web application in the Flash plug-in container, just like many web apps -- probably including FitDay, and will be free of course. I'm unemployed and IT jobs are tight now where I live, so I have time to kill.
I'm also learning a new programming language (Flex 4) for this so it has been slow slogging for a while, but I'm learning fast now and at this time with my app in the development environment I can list all the foods in the USDA foods database (after downloading from the server), filter those by category, search by entered text, select ingredients into a list (to be a recipe or meal or whatever), choose the measurement method (ounce, cup, etc), adjust the amount of the selected ingredient, and then run a totaller function that steps through all the selected foods/amounts and totals all 143 nutrients available (everything from magnesium to 22:6 n-3 fat). There is a LOT more development ahead...
My problem is the USDA database is sorely lacking in primal good foods. There are a total of 2 grass-fed beef items (steak and ground), no grass-fed cheeses, Parmigiano-Reggiano missing, etc, etc. It's very disappointing.
Do any of you know of complete nutrition databases? By 'complete' I mean that info like on a nutrition facts panel on the side of a food box is not acceptable. I'm hoping there's another data freak on this forum who can point me at other sources.
And maybe other programmers out there with similar ideas?
Thanks for any ideas and inspirations!
I'll check in tomorrow for replies. It's hard to get to the internet right now as I am in the midst of moving as well (losing the house and moving in with Steph-hunny).
Don't sweat the small stuff
And that's what the analytical differences are between, say, grass fed and CAFO. Sure a bit more this, a bit less that, but in the scheme of eating, it doesn't matter.
There are plenty of more significant errors due to things like soil a crop is grown in, how ripe a given fruit is.
Now, the Fitday database is a disaster. I used FD for many months and hated it. But by the time I decided it sucked, I was too invested in time and personal data. Many foods are not per USDA, don't know their sources. Or, like, why does okra have fat calories? Oh, it's not just okra, it's cooked in a recipe! Ditto for sodium.
I got fluent enough in food chemistry that I could often look at the Fitday results and off to Nutritional Data I went and then plugged THAT data back into FD as a custom. Speaking of which, I must have close to 100 custom foods.
The search function sucks, the browse is completely illogical, way too many Puerto Rican foods for some odd reason, and if you don't use it in 20 minutes it logs you off.
Oh well, the price is right.......
Nutritondata.self.com has best presentation of nutrient data analysis but a crappy UI. They use the USDA nutrient database for values. Apparently the german nutrient database (linked somewhere in here or from one of the big science blogs like heartscan, cooling inflammation or hyperlipid) has more detailed information on vitamin K.
Dailyburn.com has the best UI of all of the programs (imesho ) and has the benefit of any user adding to the database. In nutritiondata.self.com, users can only add food to their own food lists and not the database
I'd love to see the two of them essentially combined. I would suspect that some group like http://www.eatwild.com/ has better nutrient information on pastured/wild animal foods or would be able to point you in the right direction.
Last edited by cillakat; 11-10-2010 at 08:36 PM.
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That sounds like a great resource, esp things like Omega ratios. I wish there was an aussie one that had aussie foods!
I think Cableguy (? may have name wrong) was talking about similar thing. I will dig for the name and come back and edit this if its wrong....It is Codeguy.
Yeah, OnTheBayou, that is a typical use of the USDA data. There are so many variables that can impact nutrition values, like how it is cooked. If you take raw database foods (meat, vegies, etc) because that's what you weighed and measured, and analyze that but neglect the fact that you cooked it all in a stew you cannot rely on the data values. The proper programmatic way to deal with that is ask the user if the items will be cooked, and then apply some factoring to reduce vitamin amounts, fat amounts, etc. Those kinds of factors are available and the USDA database has some, mentions how some cooked values are derived, etc.
Originally Posted by OnTheBayou
Cillakat, I was impressed with nutritiondata.self.com but did not want to sign up since it looked like they wanted a credit card.
Originally Posted by cillakat
I'll have a look at the otjher sites you mention, THANKS.
Mog, thanks for the clues. I'll search for CodeGuy posts.
Originally Posted by Mog
how annoying! I signed up with them years ago, probably 5 years ago, two 'owners' ago so I never experienced that credit card request during sign up. I wonder what they want with it. Is anything for purchase on the site? Sounds like that's where it might be headed.
Originally Posted by Viking
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Yes Cillakat, it looked like nutrition-data was selling side products or services and you could be charged for something, so they wanted my credit card up front. I wasn't sure if it would be a problem or not but chose not to join.
I have a feeling that this will be a long and difficult search, to find much nutrition data for grass-fed beef and pastured pigs and poultry, and grass-fed butter and cheese, etc.
What concerns me the most is that there may be a lot of making up of data in my future. I don't mean making up really, but extrapolating. Let's say I want to create a rump roast (I mean the nutrition data) from grass-fed beef and I have for comparison a conventional rump roast. The GF roast will have less total fat, less saturated fat (I think) and a differing 6/3 ratio, plus more CLA. There may be some general ratios that could be used but how accurate would this be? I think it would end up that some ingredients have 'suggested' values. The final data 'facts' would almost need to be approved by committee or community agreement.
Maybe I'll have to start a blog and ask people to share ideas on this.
It would be great if there's a group working on this already, where people are figuring out the nutrition facts for primal friendly foods....
I emailed a professor at Chico State who is involved with grass-fed studies, asking if he has data that can be shared. We shall see...
Here's a very interesting article on grass-fed beef nutrition from Chico State U. (California). I have not read it all yet -- may need some DHA before tackling this...
I see a lot of good data here.