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InquilineKea

Are calorie counts on Goya lentils inaccurate?

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So here are the Goya lentils I'm talking about: https://www.amazon.com/Goya-Lentils-Lentejas-Masoor-16oz/dp/7656543546/ref=sr_1_1_s_it?s=grocery&ie=UTF8&qid=1467503147&sr=1-1&keywords=goya+lentils

 

70 calories per 32 grams of dried lentils, which translates to 2.18 calories per gram.

 

The pack says there are 8 servings per container, which means 560 calories per package of 1lb lentils. That sounds almost too good to be true! Except...

 

(a) 8*32 grams = 256 grams, which is less than the 454 grams seen in a 1lb package. So they already got the serving size wrong...

(b) Google says there are 1588 calories in 1 lb of dried lentils (https://www.google.com/search?num=100&q=calories+in+1+lb+lentils&oq=calories+in+1+lb+lentils&gs_l=serp.3..0i7i30l2.2327.2327.0.2482.1.1.0.0.0.0.88.88.1.1.0....0...1..64.serp..0.1.88.AuoEYP1TLfo ). That's 3.5 calories per gram...
 

So unless goya has found some unusually low-calorie lentils, I'm not sure if I can believe the package. Even though I really really want them to have found low-calorie lentils!!

 

Given the health benefits of lentils, as well as their ridiculously cheap price, this is a very important question for me. :)

 

==

incidentally, goya green split peas also seem to have many of the same issues (though it comes out to 1210 calories per package, which is closer to the value that google would predict)...

Edited by InquilineKea

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Alex,

 

Let me Google that for you.

 

Oh, lookie there. The #2 search result is a Reddit thread asking the exact same question. Short answer, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Go with the higher calories. And if you can get a cow in exchange for those magic beans, go for it. Just don't eat her.

 

And since I went to the trouble of answering you, please feel free to use this information to ask and answer your own question over on Quora too.

 

--Dean

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Alex,

 

I do wonder, though, if one absorbs a lower % of fiber calories than other types of calories?

 

Yes - of course. Fiber is not only itself poorly and variably absorbed (depending on the type of fiber, and the type of bacteria in your gut to break it down), but it also influences the absorption of other nutrients and calories in a mixed meal [1].

 

In short, don't count on any food labels to accurately reflect the amount of calories you'll extract from eating that food. They are ballpark at best. Goya lentils is an aberration though. Ignore that label and use standard lentil nutrient information as reflected in the USDA database, and incorporated into e.g. CRON-O-Meter.

 

--Dean

 

-------

[1] Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Dec;86(6):1649-56.

 
Accuracy of the Atwater factors and related food energy conversion factors with
low-fat, high-fiber diets when energy intake is reduced spontaneously.
 
Zou ML(1), Moughan PJ, Awati A, Livesey G.
 
Author information: 
(1)Riddet Centre, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand.
m.l.zou@massey.ac.nz
 
BACKGROUND: Systems to calculate metabolizable energy (ME) in foods and diets are
often based on Atwater factors. The accuracy of these factors with low-fat diets 
high in fiber is unknown when food intake is reduced spontaneously.
OBJECTIVE: The objective was to evaluate the accuracy of Atwater factors and
other systems for calculating ME available from low-fat, high-fiber diets when
food intake was reduced spontaneously.
DESIGN: The ME contents of a high-fat, low-fiber diet and 2 low-fat diets, one
high in fruit and vegetable fiber and the other high in cereal fiber, were
determined in a randomized parallel study in humans (n = 27) and compared with
various factorial and empirical models for calculating ME.
RESULTS: Food intakes decreased with both the high fruit and vegetable fiber and 
cereal fiber diets. The difference between ME calculated by using Atwater and
similar factors and determined ME values was up to 4% for the refined diet and up
to 11% for the low-fat, high-fiber diets. Various factorial and empirical systems
for calculating food energy failed to reflect the results of the direct
determinations.
CONCLUSION: Atwater factors were inaccurate with low-fat, high-fiber diets.
Although modified Atwater factors may be accurate under standardized conditions
of zero-nitrogen and zero-energy balance, they overestimate energy availability
from high-fiber fruit and vegetable and cereal diets when food intake is reduced 
spontaneously in addition to when intake is reduced voluntarily.
 
PMID: 18065582

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Okay cool - thanks for that resource! I finally got on CRON-O-Meter for once, though it doesn't allow me to record foods as specific as, say, http://www.myfitnesspal.com/food/calories/signature-kitchens-frozen-vegetables-stir-fry-vegetables-245410120, which I tend to eat 3-4 bags of each day..

 

Does CRON-O-Meter track reduced caloric bioavailability in nuts?

 

Is soluble kind of dietary fiber usually translated into increased calorie counts on package labeling?

Edited by InquilineKea

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Alex,

 

Does CRON-O-Meter track reduced caloric bioavailability in nuts?

 

CRON-O-Meter uses data provided by the USDA for nutrition of the foods it tracks. Currently the USDA (and therefore CRON-O-Meter) tends to overestimate the calories extracted from nuts.

 

Is soluble kind of dietary fiber usually translated into increased calorie counts on package labeling?

 

There is some discretion allowed on the part of the food company generating the label, but as I understand it the USDA allows companies to use the "difference method" for calculating carb calories - which means subtracting grams of fiber (soluble and insoluble) from total carbohydrates when calculating calories. But evidence suggests that fiber, and particularly soluble fiber, contributes about 1-2 kcal/g to metabolizable energy.

 

Again, food labels (and hence, CRON-O-Meter) are incredibly approximate when it comes to calculating calories.

 

--Dean

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