Inconsistent Nutritional Information – What’s right?

14 Oct

Do you like me, look at the nutritional information on the back of food item packagings before purchasing? I do – to check the carbohydrate count in an effort to keep down the amount of carbohydrates I eat.

As I do this more often and become more familiar with the amount of carbohydrates a particular item is ‘supposed’ to contain, I have come to realise that there are inconsistencies. One producer will list a figure and another will have a figure waaaay off! We are not talking about small differences but sometimes double the amount.

I’ve already come across 3 food items where I’ve ask myself, so now, who is correct? And I’m talking about comparing ingredients in their most basic form where nothing is added and comparing weight for weight.

For example, almonds. Looking randomly through websites from 3 countries listing nutritional information for 100gr raw almonds, these were the values. A UK website called Weight Loss Resources states that 100gr of raw almonds contains 8.1 gr carbohydrates; the nutritional information on the back of the almond packet I always use says 100g raw almonds contains 9.4 gr carbohydrates, while Spark Recipes, the website I use to calculate the nutritional values of my recipes, says that 100gr raw almonds contains 19.7 gr carbohydrates. I have come across others which say 21gr or 22 gr carbohydrates per 100gr and these are usually American websites. That’s double the amount!

Same with dried apricots. I bought a packet of organic dried apricots not too long ago from a supermarket here in Munich which listed the carbohydrate content of 100gr as 39 gr carbohydrates. According to American online retailer Nuts Online, 100 gr organic dried apricots have 72.5 gr carbohydrates! Healthy Supplies based in the UK have apricots with 58 gr carbohydrates per 100 grams. Again, a huge discrepancy.

Yesterday, I had another shock. The brand of soy flour I use, produced by a reputable German organic products manufacturer called Sobo, says that 100gr of soy flour contains 3.2 gr carbohydrates. Spark Recipes’ calculator says 35.2 gr carbohydrates – that a whopping 32 gr difference! I’ve surfed around and there are other sites which say that soy flour has 3+ gr of carbohydrates and a lot more which say that it has 30+ gr of carbohydrates. And this has nothing to do with whether the soy flour is full-fat or defatted.

Obviously, if I am using 3.2 gr carbohydrates per 100gr in my calculations, the final carbohydrate value of my recipe will be a lot lower than if I were to use 35.2 gr!!

These are just the 3 inconsistencies I noticed. There must be many more items like this. We are fed with all kinds of information, right and wrong, and are often misled without being aware of it. So although I do try to be accurate when I do my nutritional calculations, I may not be giving you the right information. For me though, I think what is important is how my blood glucose values react to the meal I have consumed – if my values are acceptable, then I’m happy!

4 Responses to “Inconsistent Nutritional Information – What’s right?”

  1. Jim Purdy November 26, 2011 at 01:33 #

    I’ve noticed huge inconsistencies in food nutrition information also, and I just don’t trust any of that “information” any more. (For that matter, don’t even get me started on what I think about all the “peer-reviewed” articles by researchers paid by BigPharma.)

    However, you said:
    “I think what is important is how my blood glucose values react to the meal I have consumed – if my values are acceptable, then I’m happy!”

    In the past, I would have agreed with you, until I began to notice huge variations in the readings from my blood glucose meters. Now, I tend to ignore the meters (and even medical lab tests of blood and urine, which also bounce all over the place), and I rely almost entirely on how my body reacts to food — and so-called “food.”

    And here’s what my body tells me:

    PROTEIN (especially chicken) = Good = satisfying, satiating

    CARBOHYDRATES = Bad = causes endless cravings and binges

    WHEAT BREAD = Catastrophic = makes my whole body feel terrible

    • franinmunich November 26, 2011 at 12:08 #

      Hi Jim!
      I agree with you. I’ve had problems with my glucose meters too – with the readings from the same meter and between different meters. My doctor says a 5-10 point difference is to be expected and up to 20 points if I use a different meter. Not sure how these companies calibrate their meters. He said the main thing is that I try to avoid peaks so I try to keep my figures below 100. Sometimes, I get a gigantic difference of more than 50 points. My doc says that I should wash my hands before checking but when I do and thoroughly dry them, they are still not 100% dry and the blood runs all over. So doesn’t the water dilute the blood? Now, I just don’t wash my hands unless they are of course filthy, and if I am shocked by the result, I measure again using another finger. Then I know for sure.

      Like you, my body reacts crazily to carbohydrates and the worst is when I eat breads and pastries – which I love :(, sniff. I am amazed every time I see the figures after eating something with white flour. Proteins are great. At the beginning I was eating only meat and vegetables but now I’m ecstatic that I’ve got pasta, bread and cauliflower rice (recipes on this site). I love spicy Asian food with gravy and you just need rice or bread to soak it all up. Even stews need its accompanying ‘carbs’ – for me. Used to enjoying them like that I guess.

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