About the table values

Our goal has been to assign values for as many nutrients as possible for all foods in the Norwegian Food Composition Table. Where analytical values for foods sold in Norway could not be found, the table values have been estimated from recipes, borrowed from foreign food composition tables, or appraised in accordance with similar foods

How the table values for edible part, energy, macronutrients, vitamins, minerals and trace elements have been decided is described in the text below.

References to table values

Every table value in is linked to a reference number. Clicking the food and choosing "references" will provide information on how the value was determined or where it was borrowed. List of all references is given in the attachment named List of references.

Note that:
Table value 0 can either mean that the nutrient is not present in the food (reference 50) or that the amount is so small that the nutrient is not detected by the method of analysis that has been used (reference 60a).

In cases where the content is unknown (missing value), a dash (–) is shown on the screen and when the file is saved. In the Excel file missing values are shown as M.

All table values represent levels

Table values in the Food Composition Table must not be taken as exact amounts, but as representative levels of the nutrient content. As a rule, an average value is used within an area of variation.

In vegetable foods, the content of nutrients will vary greatly according to type, growing conditions and degree of ripeness while harvested and used, while the nutrient content in foods of animal origin primarily vary with the breed of the bird or animal, feed and age at which it was slaughtered. The content in fish and shellfish also varies according to where and at what time of the year it is caught or gathered and what it has eaten. Conditions during storage, transport, industrial processing and/or preparation in the household are also of importance for the nutrient content in foods, products and dishes. In addition, there is always some variation in the analytical results from a laboratory.

Some examples of areas of variation found in Norwegian analyses of foods are provided in the attachment named Variation. All values presented in the table refer to the content per 100 grams of the edible portion of any specific food item, i.e. after parts that are usually not eaten, such as peel, pits, shell, bones have been removed. Where analytical values for foods sold in Norway could not be found, the table values have been estimated from recipes, borrowed from foreign food composition tables, or appraised in accordance with similar foods

From analytical sample to the table value

Analysing the content of nutrients in foods is expensive. Thus in many cases, analyses of composite samples of foods produced in different parts of the country or from the largest food companies are made. Selection of food samples for analysis of nutrient content is based on statistics for production and/or turnover of the 3-5 varieties that together comprise about 80 % of the market for the particular food group. For each manufacturer or product type, the composite sample consists of 3-5 subsamples with different production dates.

If several product varieties are analysed separately, the table values are weighted means according to their market shares, or calculated as annual averages if samples have been analysed from different seasons. An example in the attachment called Vitamin C in Potatoes shows how this is done.

Edible part

All foods in the food composition table have a value for edible part.

In meat products described as without skin, the skin is not included in the product, which means the product only includes meat, bone and connective tissue.

Energy

The internationally accepted standard unit for energy in the SI system is the joule (J). Because many people still use calories, the food content of energy is given both in kilojoules (kJ) and as kilocalories (kcal).

1 kJ= 0,239 kcal
1 kcal= 4,184 kJ

In the energy values energy from dietary fibre are also included. Thus, Norway follows the same method of calculation as in the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations 2004 (1). This method of calculating the energy content of foods is also recommended by an international workgroup established by FAO (2), and is being continued in Matinformasjonsforordningen.

Calculation factors used in the Food Composition Table:

1 g fat= 37 kJ or 9 kcal
1 g carbohydrates= 17 kJ or 4 kcal
1 g dietary fibre= 8 kJ or 2 kcal
1 g protein= 17 kJ or 4 kcal
1 g alcohol= 29 kJ or 7 kcal

The calculation factor for dietary fibre is lower than for carbohydrates because not all types of dietary fibre can be converted to energy in the human body.

The calculated values for energy content must be seen as guidelines. Since the calculation factors do not take the bioavailability of protein, fat and carbohydrates into consideration for the individual foods, they are actually valid for a mixed diet only.

Energy-yielding nutrients

Fats, fatty acids, cholesterol

Traditional methods for fat analysis give the food’s total content of fat-soluble components. Fatty acids make up 90-95 % of the fat content as a rule, but in some foods this proportion can be much lower. The rest of the fat is mainly glycerol, but some cholesterol, plant sterols and phospholipids may also be present.

In addition to the total amount of fat, table values are given for four main groups of fatty acids (saturated, trans-unsaturated, cis-monounsaturated and cis-polyunsaturated) and cholesterol. Trans-unsaturated fatty acids are formed in the rumen of ruminants and by industrial hydrogenation of long-chain fatty acids in oils. The table values for trans-unsaturated fatty acids are partly based on Norwegian analyses performed after the year 2000, and partly calculated on the basis of results from Transfair, a European collaborative project carried out during 1995-97 (3). However, information from a series of Norwegian food companies shows that the content of trans-fatty acids from industrially processed fat is probably a lot lower today than a few years ago for a number of products (4, 5). Partially hardened fat is often replaced with fat types that are more saturated (palm oil, coconut oil). The type of added fat should be declared in the list of ingredients on the packaging of industrially produced foods.

In 2015, University of Oslo, in co-operation with Norwegian Food Safety Authority, conducted a project in order to obtain fatty acid values to the Norwegian Food Composition Table. In Matvaretabellen.no, there are values for 15 fatty acids, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for most of the food items.

The values of the fatty acids in the Norwegian Food Composition Table are collected from several sources in order to supplement the existing values of saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat in the table. It is important to be aware of that the food composition table only has published values for some fatty acids, and that the table does not have a complete fatty acid profile.The sum of the individual fatty acids will always be the same as or below the sum of saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. However, it is important to be aware of that the sum of the individual fatty acids is not necessarily in accordance with the sum of saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, because all existing fatty acids are not present in the food composition table.

Omega-3 and omega-6 classified fatty acids consist of several fatty acids. The most common are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosapentaenoic acid (DPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) for omega-3, and linoeic acid (LA) and arachidonic acid (ARA) for omega-6 fatty acids. Often only the mentioned fatty acids are analysed, thus sometimes the sum of omega-3 and omega-6 can be a bit lower than the actual content.

The fatty acids in the food composition table are collected from several sources:

  • Analytical projects conducted by NIFES on behalf of Norwegian Food Safety Authority
  • Analytical reports from other Norwegian institutions and food producers
  • Food composition tables from other countries
  • Scientific articles

The quality of the fatty acid values varies depending on the source.

Carbohydrates

Table values are calculated on the basis of two different principles, analysing and subtracting:

  • Since 1992, starch, glycogen, and all types of sugars (glucose, fructose, lactose, sucrose and maltose) have been determined individually in the Norwegian analytical projects. The sum of these carbohydrate fractions is termed available carbohydrates.
  • Table values borrowed from other sources are in general what is left after subtracting the sum of water, protein, fat, alcohol, dietary fibre and ash in 100 g food. Carbohydrate values that are based on difference can be somewhat larger than analysed values since other, undefined substances may also be included.

The total mono+disaccharides comprise the naturally occurring glucose, fructose (fruit sugar), lactose (milk sugar) and maltose (malt sugar), as well as sugar (sucrose) or other sugars that are added during preparation. In Norwegian nutrient labelling this is termed Sukkerarter.

Added sugars comprise refined or industrially processed sugar in the form of glucose, fructose, lactose, maltose, sucrose, glucose syrup and other hydrolysed starch products as well as honey that is added during industrial production or during home preparation. Naturally occurring sugars in fruit, vegetables and milk are not considered as added sugars.

 
Column in the Food Composition TableIncludes
Carbo (Carbohydrate, glycemic)The total of starch, glycogen and all types of sugar (glucose, fructose, lactose, sucrose and maltose)
StarchStarch
Mono+Di (Mono+Disaccharides)The total of naturally occurring and added types of sugar (glucose, fructose, lactose, maltose, and sucrose)
Sugar (Sugar, added)Refined or industrially processed sugar that is added during industrial production or during home preparation

Dietary fibre

Dietary fibre is not included in the carbohydrates. From 2015, Tthe Norwegian analytical values for dietary fibre are based on the 1985 AOAC method (Official methods of analysis of the Association of Official Analytical Chemists) AOAC 2009.01. Analysis from 2014 and earlier are based on the method AOAC 985,29 (from 1985) and AOAC 991,43 (from 1991). . This last method identifies the amount of plant substances that the body’s own enzymes cannot break down and make use of. The new method, AOAC 2009.01 includes resistant oligosaccharids. The old methods underestimates some sorts of resistant starch. There is no international consensus for the definition of dietary fibre (6). When values have been borrowed from other food composition tables, values based on the AOAC method have been prioritised for inclusion in the Food Composition Table.

Protein

The protein content is calculated from the analysed nitrogen content. The calculation factor from nitrogen to protein varies somewhat with the amino acid composition of the food (7):

Raw foodFactor
Milk6,25*
Eggs, meat, fish6,25
Potatoes, vegetables, fruit6,25
Wheat flour, sieved5,70
Wheat wholemeal, barley, oats, rye5,83
Wheat bran, millet6,31
Wheat germ5,80
Rice5,95
Almonds5,18
Peanuts, brazil nuts5,46
Other nuts, seeds5,30
Soya beans5,71
Composite products6,25

* The dairys make use of the protein factor 6,25, which is in accordance with the current regulations on food labelling. In the literature, a protein factor of 6,38 often is used for this food group, but it is decided to use the same protein factor (6,25) as the food industry.

Alcohol

When drinks containing alcohol are labelled, the alcohol content is shown as volume percentage. The alcohol concentration is converted to weight percentage, i.e. grams of pure alcohol per 100 g drink. For beer, wine and other alcoholic beverages that have about the same specific weight as water, i.e. 1, the weight percentage is calculated as 0.8 times the volume percentage. Liqueur and sweet vermouth have a higher specific weight because of the sugar content, 1,1 and 1,05 respectively. Pure alcohol has a specific weight of 0,95 (8). 

Vitamins

The food composition table includes values for 12 substances with vitamin activity:

Short nameFull nameFat-soluble vitaminDescription
Vit ARetinol activity equivalentsFRetinol + 1/12 beta-carotene
RetinolRetinolFPreformed vitamin A
B-carotBeta-caroteneFPrecursor og vitamin A
Vit B1Vitamin B1WThiamin*
Vit B2Vitamin B2WRiboflavin
NiacinNiacinWNicotinic acid + nicotinamide
Vit B6Vitamin B6WPyridoxine + pyridoxal + pyridoxamine
FolateFolateWFolic acid + derivatives of folic acid
Vit B12Vitamin B12WCobalamin
Vit CVitamin CWAscorbic acid + dehydroascorbic acid
Vit DVitamin DFCholecalciferol (D3)
Vit EVitamin EFAlpha-Tocopherol

F = fat-soluble vitamin, W = water-soluble vitamin.
* as hydrochlorid

Vitamin A

Retinol is found only in animal foods while beta-carotene is found in colour-rich vegetables and some fruits. Total vitamin A activity is calculated as the sum of retinol + 1/12 beta-carotene and termed retinol activity equivalents (RAE). In previous editions of the Food Composition Table (Version 2006 and earlier), vitamin A activity was termed retinol equivalents (RE) and was calculated as the sum of retinol + 1/6 beta-carotene.

In some contexts, the concentration of vitamin A is given in international units (i.u.): 1 i.u. vitamin A = 0.3 µg retinol equivalent.

Vitamin B group

This group comprises the vitamins B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), Niacin, B6 (pyridoxine, pyridoxal, pyridoxamine), Folate and B12 (cobalamins). As in several other food composition tables, the Norwegian values for vitamin B1 (thiamin) are presented as hydrochlorides, while some other food composition tables do not include the salt part of the molecule in their values.

The conversion factor of thiamin chloride to thiamin is 0.892.
From pyridoxine the conversion factor is 0.823.

Folate is a generic term for a number of more or less unstable forms of folic acid (pteroylglutamic acid). Pure folic acid is only found in food supplements. Norwegian analytical values for folate are determined by means of a microbiological method, while other, not quite comparable, methods of analysis can have been used in other countries.

Vitamin C

This vitamin is found in food in two forms, ascorbic acid and dehydroascorbic acid. The Norwegian analytical values represent the total of the two forms. Not all foreign food tables include the dehydroascorbic acid.

Vitamin D

Few foods contain vitamin D naturally. Industrially produced vitamin D (ergocalciferol or vitamin D2) has the same vitamin D activity as in the natural form (D3).

In some contexts, vitamin D is still given in international units (i.u.): 1 i.u. vitamin D = 0.025 µg vitamin D.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E has previously been used as a common name for several variants of tocopherol and tocotrienol. Today, only alpha-tocopherol is considered to have vitamin E activity, but the designation alpha-TE is still used (1). Be aware that in some foreign tables, other tocopherols and trienoles are also converted to alpha-tocopherol equivalents (9).

In some contexts, vitamin E is still given in international units (i.u.): 1 i.u. vitamin E = 0.67 mg alpha-tocopherol equivalents.

Minerals and trace elements

The food composition table has values for ten minerals and trace elements:

CaCalciumM
FeIronT
NaSodiumM
KPotassiumM
MgMagnesiumM
ZnZincT
SeSeleniumT
CuCopperT
PPhosphorusT
IIodineT

M = mineral, T = trace element.

 

Iron

Iron (Fe) occurs both as haeme iron and nonhaeme iron in foods. Haeme iron is found only in animal foods, while nonhaeme iron is found in both animal and vegetable foods. In the Food Composition Table, no difference is made between the two forms.

Sodium/salt

The content of sodium (Na) is low in both animal and vegetable raw foods. The amount of salt added under industrial production and in household preparation can vary considerably. The sodium values for composite products, prepared raw foods and dishes are therefore especially uncertain. 1 g salt contains about 0.4 g sodium (i.e. 0.393 g).

Iodine

Many of the food items do not have known values of iodine. Because of that, it is important to be aware of that a missing iodine value for a food item (marked with – in Matvaretabellen.no and "M" in the downloadable spreadsheet), not necessarily mean that the food item does not contain iodine.

References

1. Nordic Nutrition Recommendations (2004). Integrating nutrition and physical activity. Nord 2004:13. Nordic Council of Ministers, Copenhagen, 2004.

2. FAO (2003). Food energy - methods of analysis and conversion factors. Report of a Technical Workshop, Rome, 3-6 december 2002. Food and Nutrition Paper 77. Rome.

3. Hulshof KF, van Erp-Baart M-A, Anttolainen M et al. (1999) Intake of fatty acids in Western Europe with emphasis on trans fatty acids: The TRANSFAIR study. Eur J Clin Nutr 53(2):143-57.

4. Johansson L, Borgejordet Å, Pedersen JI. (2006) Trans fatty acids in the Norwegian diet. Tidsskr Nor Lægeforen 126:760-3. (English summary)

5. Mattilsynet og Sosial- og helsedirektoratet (2005). Bruk av delvis herdet fett og innhold av transfettsyrer i matvarer på det norske markedet i 2003. Resultater fra spørreundersøkelse blant norske produsenter og importører. Oslo.

6. Deharveng G, Charrondière UR, Slimani N et al. (1999). Comparison of nutrients in the food composition tables available in the nine European countries participating in EPIC. Eur J Clin Nutr 53:60-79.

7. Jones, D.B. (1941) Factors for Converting Percentages of Nitrogen in Foods and Feeds into Percentages of Protein. United States Department of Agriculture, Circular No. 183. Slightly revised edition.

8. Food Standards Agency (2002). McCane and Widdowson's The Composition of Foods, Sixth summary edition. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemsitry.

9. Greenfield H, Southgate DAT (2003). Food composition data. Production, management and use. Second edition. FAO, Rome.