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Your tax dollars at work ... for your diet

September 30, 2009 |  6:00 am

Let’s say you’re about to dig into a quarter-pound cheeseburger dripping with ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise. Then you hesitate. Is this a nutritious choice?


Luckily, you can find the answer at MyFood-a-pedia, a new online service from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that lets you search for nutritional information on more than 1,000 items.

According to MyFood-a-pedia, the naked cheeseburger on a bun contains 552 calories and includes 1.5 ounces of meat, 3 ounces of grains and half a cup of milk. But 195 of its calories come from “extras” like solid fats and added sugars. Factoring in all the condiments boosts the total calories to 669. Adding lettuce and tomato raises it slightly more, to 673, but then the burger gets credit for containing a quarter cup of vegetables.

A medium-sized fast-food order of French fries adds an additional 457 calories to the meal, including 224 from fats and sugars, MyFood-a-pedia says. A can of soda contains an additional 155 calories, all but one of which is in the unhealthful “extras” category.

MyFood-a-pedia has nutritional information on a gamut of items, including raw apples (72 calories each); applesauce (97 calories in a half-cup serving); apple pie (356 calories a slice); apple cider (117 calories in a cup); Apple Jacks (also 117 calories a cup); and Waldorf salad (121 calories in each half-cup scoop).  

Nutritional information on two foods can be compared side by side. (Turns out a serving of Froot Loops has one fewer calorie than Apple Jacks.) The service was unveiled last week in a tweet from the USDA.

-- Karen Kaplan

Image: USDA