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The Wolfram|Alpha Team

Wolfram|Alpha Can Help You Make Smart Food Choices

July 27, 2009 —
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We are continuing to demonstrate ways you can use Wolfram|Alpha’s nutrition and wellness data, with helpful input tips and examples. In this example we are talking about how to use Wolfram|Alpha to make smart food choices. A variety of nutritional factors may be of importance depending on your dietary needs and wellness goals, which is why Wolfram|Alpha goes further than just providing the total number of calories in a food item.

Whether you are concerned about monitoring your total fat, cholesterol, sodium, sugar, carbohydrates, or other nutrients, Wolfram|Alpha can provide you with this information for an individual food item, a meal, or a comprehensive calculation of your daily diet. In this post we’ll demonstrate how to calculate and compare the nutritional values of two food items.

You know that moment when hunger strikes and you are tempted to grab the first food you see? How can you choose your healthiest immediate option? Let’s quickly calculate and compare nutritional values of say, one serving each of cashews and almonds. When you enter two foods in the computation bar—“compare cashews and almonds“— Wolfram|Alpha returns an assumption pod that allows you to choose more specific information, such as “cashew nut, dry roasted, without added salt”, or “almonds, dry roasted, with salt”, should your items require it.

Once you make your final selections, you’ll see individual nutrition labels that break down the properties of the items, such as serving size, and provide a breakdown of nutrients and percentages of daily values based on the USDA’s recommendations for a 2000-calorie diet.

Perhaps you are considering having both food items. Click “Total nutrition facts” on the right side of the nutrition facts pod, and Wolfram|Alpha will return a new food label with the total values for both items.

Comparing the nutritional values of Cashews and Almonds

Combined nutritional values of cashews and almonds

We are hard at work curating nutritional values of some brand-name and specialty foods. More are added every day, and our food database continues to grow.

Be sure to return soon to see how we put all of these food-related topics together to calculate your daily food intake.


A possibly better method would be of specfying nutrition values, and have WA supply the foods you need to eat to fulfill it.

Posted by Jonas July 27, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    Thank you for the suggestion, Jonas! We appreciate your feedback.

    Posted by The PR Team July 28, 2009 at 4:08 pm

Thats great. if it calculates all nutritional fact then it will bring everyone to search from time to time. Specially for those who are health conscious.

I tried to download as pdf but the pdf is not created properly. Please try yourself and if you can fix would be great. Its not really needed as i can check online again but good to have offline copy. Thanks.

Posted by Damodar Bashyal July 27, 2009 at 6:42 pm

Are there any ideas how w|a might (one day) reflect the fact that our bodies don’t incinerate food, they digest it. And digestion – from chewing food to moving it through the gut and chemically breaking it down along the way – takes a different amount of energy for different foods.

‘According to Geoffrey Livesey, an independent nutritionist based in Norfolk, UK, this can lower the number of calories your body extracts from a meal by anywhere between 5 and 25 per cent depending on the food eaten. “These energy costs are quite significant,” he says, yet are not reflected on any food label.’ –

Posted by Joe July 28, 2009 at 5:12 pm

Very useful, thanks!

I do have one suggestion, though.
When specifying the amount in the query, apply it to all compared items instead of just the first (e.g. “compare fat in 100g cashews vs almonds” should really compare 100g cashews with 100g almonds, not with 30g almonds which is your default serving size )

Posted by Yaron July 29, 2009 at 9:44 am

To reduce ‘food’ into metrics of nutrients may speak of very little about healthy diet. So just by comparing the nutrients in your ‘intakes’ may be a very misleading knowledge. I suggest Wolfram team to read the book ‘In Defense of Food’ by Michael Pollan.

In short ‘health knowledge’ shouldn’t be seen as ‘nutrients knowledge’, well I believe. Food culture as a whole has a lot to contribute to ‘health knowledge’. A better knowledge structure in this regard is necessary I guess.

Posted by Walter Cheng July 29, 2009 at 10:05 am

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and suggestions. Be sure to visit this topic thread at the Wolfram|Alpha Community site!

Posted by The PR Team July 29, 2009 at 3:32 pm

Unbelievable that I never had heard of wolframalpha, a brilliant site and very exciting to use and discover!
Keep up the good work.

Posted by Pieter August 9, 2009 at 12:17 pm

Hi, We have a restaurant, wine shop and deli combined and our customers really appreciate nutritional information with the purchases. We have been looking for ages for an accurate method to provide nutrition information to our diners. Like Pieter, I had not heard of WolframAlpha, but will certainly investigate it further.

Thanks Colin 🙂

Posted by Colin Hall November 26, 2010 at 12:35 am

    Thank you, Colin. Please let us know if we can provide you with additional information.

    Posted by The Wolfram|Alpha Team November 29, 2010 at 9:41 pm