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The Wolfram|Alpha Team

Something to Chew On

June 16, 2009 —
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Wolfram|Alpha has the powerful ability to compute complex data into insightful outputs that can be helpful tools in our everyday lives. One area where this is most evident is the Wolfram|Alpha collection of food and nutrition information. Users have marveled over how quick and easy it is to analyze nutrition information for their favorite homemade recipes, and compare nutritional values of everything from dietary staples to those occasional indulgences.

Examples of food and nutrition queries

One increasingly popular function of the Wolfram|Alpha food and nutrition collection is the nutrition label generator. So, just how does Wolfram|Alpha know the nutrition facts of your famous apple pie? Data curators have been busy tagging over 7000 food entities that are listed in the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference and other food databases. Once a food entity is placed into the nutrition bank, rules and algorithms are applied to help categorize it by typical attributes (e.g. raw, boiled), units (e.g. cups, tablespoons), and unique serving forms (e.g. slices, pieces). As a result of these tags, when you enter all of those secret ingredients into the site’s computation bar, Wolfram|Alpha computes a breakdown of total calories, fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates, protein, and particular nutrients the foods contain.

Apple pie food label

Currently we’re busy curating data for brand-name foods, a feature many users have requested. So if your favorite brand doesn’t appear today, please check for it again soon.

Are you ready to give it a try?


Hey, I am diabetic, so how about stuff for us folks factored into the food info. If you do, our job maintaining our sugar levels could get a lot smarter and easier. This alone with an ipod touch would make metering a game changer; if you figure out a format we can suck into our ipods for records and review. I bet you have diabetics at W/A stuff who would love this! Go for it, please.

Posted by Andrew Meit June 16, 2009 at 9:03 pm

It’s been amusing to try to throw the engine for a loop by giving quantities of food in unusual units, but no, they’ve even got “a bucket of prune juice” covered.

Posted by G. Freeland June 16, 2009 at 11:06 pm

Hi, on a related note, for those who watch their calorie intake *and* do some exercise: is it possible to add more types of exercise besides “walking” and “running” for the fat burn calculations? Thanks a lot.

Posted by ImaginaryUnit June 17, 2009 at 2:36 am

I love how Wolfram has started integrating technology into every day task like cooking; I could defiantly see Wolfram being the standardized tool for all advanced calculations and probability equations in the near future.

Posted by Cole.C June 17, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    I can see W|A taking over more and more of the work required for its expansion until it confounds those who have said the task is impossible. Just imagine W|A learning something new and advising many curators that particular older data is no longer sound and must be re-examined. Imagine it asking for a specific test to be carried out to see if a theory works.

    Posted by Brian Gilbert June 17, 2009 at 2:06 pm

I’d like to be able to add all of my components up and see the aggreate data for a ‘meal’ – as you have done for the apple pie, but on the fly.

Posted by sam June 17, 2009 at 3:21 pm

Are you ready to give it a try?
What a shame for webmaster…

Posted by Aritaborian June 18, 2009 at 5:36 pm

    The link has been updated. Thank you for the note, Aritaborian.

    Posted by The PR Team June 19, 2009 at 11:55 am

Hmm… My last comment assumed to be given in plain text, _not HTML notaton_…

Posted by Aritaborian June 18, 2009 at 5:38 pm

Brand name foods — something I’ve been hoping for.

Posted by Daniel Bigham June 20, 2009 at 11:16 am

[…] We have heard from many people who are interested in learning more about calculating their daily food intake in Wolfram|Alpha. If you have been following our posts on how to use Wolfram|Alpha to help achieve your nutritional and wellness goals, this will be easy as apple pie. […]

[…] lives. Yesterday, we discussed how Wolfram|Alpha can help us track all the good (and not so good) nutrients we put in our bodies. Some indications of how well we may, or may not, be doing in that area are […]

[…] data can be useful tools in your everyday life, such as by computing the nutritional value of your favorite recipe and identifying a healthy body weight. Some of you have since asked how you can use Wolfram|Alpha […]