Interpreting Tables of Food Composition Data

Instructor: Tawnya Eash

Tawnya has a master's degree in early childhood education and teaches all subjects at an elementary school.

Do you ever think about what is in your food before you eat it? Maybe you love fruits, vegetables, meats, or something else, but wonder how healthy it is. In this lesson, you're going to learn how to figure out exactly what is in your food.

What Am I Eating?

Think about how many of the foods shown in this picture that you actually eat.

Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and Vegetables

Eating a well-balanced diet is important for you to grow and stay healthy. That's why it's good to know what is actually in your food. The Australian New Zealand Food Standards Code helps regulate, or control, food that is sold to the public. For most of what you eat, there are food composition tables that show the ingredients found in foods. You can use them to read about what vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients there are in the food you eat.

Let's dig in to take a look at how you read food tables!

Dig in to Food Tables

Being able to look closely at food composition tables helps you figure out exactly what nutrients you are getting from food. The tables break food down into different categories, like vitamins, minerals, fats, protein, and others. You will also see a serving unit, which lets you know how much of each nutrient is in a certain amount of the food.

Have a look at the content found in lupin, a common legume crop produced in Australia.

Australian Sweet Lupin

Lupin is a seed-like food that's planted in the ground. Lupin can be broken into three different categories to look at its composition.

  1. Whole lupin - lupin with a thick seed coat that needs to be processed before humans eat it.
  2. Lupin splits - the lupin grains are split and the seed coat is removed.
  3. Flaked lupin - the lupin splits are heated and rolled, creating flakes.

Take a look at the table to see how healthy these legumes are!

Lupin Table of Food Composition

The following are just a few things you can learn by examining the table:

  • You receive more energy from eating lupin splits.
  • The amount of each nutrient changes in the different types from the original amount found in whole lupin.
    • Example: Sugars in whole lupin - 2.3, which changes to 2.8 in lupin splits, and is then up to 3.6 in flaked lupin.
  • Whole lupin has almost double the total fiber compared to the other types.
  • There are different types of fat found in lupin.
  • You can find a variety of vitamins and minerals in lupin.
  • Most of the serving units are g/100g or mg/100g.

Now, let's take a look at another source of food.

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