The energy content is indicated with the unit kJ (kilojoules)
and is calculated from the foods' content of protein, fat,
available carbohydrate, dietary fibre and alcohol using the
17 kJ/g for protein
37 kJ/g for fat
17 kJ/g for available
8 kJ/g for dietary fibre
29 kJ/g for alcohol
This is one of the major differences from versions of the Danish Food Composition Databank which are prior to version 6.0. Earlier versions used the general Atwater factors 17, 38, 17 and 30 kJ/g for protein, fat, total carbohydrate and alcohol, respectively.
At present, the energy contributions from organic acids and
polyols are not included in the energy calculations in this
version 7 of the Danish Food Composition Databank as the data are
not sufficiently covering. Furthermore, the energy contribution
from these components only has an interest for a few foods.
The application of general energy
factors for all foods is not necessarily correct. The correct
calculation of the food's energy content includes the use of
specific energy factors for protein, fat and carbohydrate for
each food. On the other hand, in order to facilitate the energy
calculation the Nordic recommendations concerning energy intakes
are using these factors. Therefore, energy calculated with the
general factors has been included in the Danish Food Composition
This energy calculation procedure must not be mistaken for the
energy calculation procedures for nutrition labelling in the EU
which is described elsewhere.
The energy values are only given as a guidance. The energy
values are indicated as rounded integers.
The protein content is indicated as total nitrogen multiplied
by a nitrogen-to-protein conversion factor, which is dependent on
the protein composition and therefore dependent on a specific
factor for each food.
The nitrogen-to-protein conversion factors used are specified
in the following table 3 (unless otherwise indicated in the
detailed description of each food).
The applied factor is indicated for each food in the detailed
view of the food (e.g. 'NCF: 6.25'). The protein content is given
with the unit and mode of expression g/100 g edible part.
The amino acid content for 18 amino acids are given in
specific amino acid tables for each food. The indicated amino
acids are isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, cystine,
phenylalanine, tyrosine, threonine, tryptophan, valine, arginine,
histidin, alanine, asparagic acid, glutamic acid, glycine,
proline and serine.
The amino acid content is given in mg/100 g and mg/g N, both
This version of the Danish Food Composition Databank
distinguishes between two specifications of carbohydrate,
total carbohydrate and available
carbohydrate. This is due to the new energy calculation
procedures introduced in the Nordic Nutrient Recommendations ,
which uses available carbohydrate and dietary fibre with
different energy conversion factors in the calculation where
previously total carbohydrate was used.
Generally, the total carbohydrate content has been calculated
by difference, defining carbohydrate as
total carbohydrate [g/100 g] - dietary fibre
This calculation method introduces errors in the result as
errors in the determinations of dry matter, protein, fat, ash -
and for available carbohydrate also dietary fibre will influence
the final total carbohydrate value. In many cases these errors
are equalized though.
The total carbohydrate by difference value includes - apart
from the components usually regarded as carbohydrates - also
other carbon containing compounds like organic acids, lignins and
tannins. It is with this carbohydrate definition Atwater has
based his energy factor for carbohydrate.
All carbohydrate values are expressed as g/100 g edible
Other carbohydrate information
The Danish Food Composition Databank gives information about
the following carbohydrate fractions:
Starch, including dextrins and glycogen.
Dietary fibre dependent on definition:
The commonly most accepted definition is based on human
physiology and defines that dietary fibre are plant
polysaccharides and lignin which are not digested by the human
enzymes in the digestive tract.
Englyst and Cummings prefer a chemical definition of dietary
fibre as non-starch polysaccharides (NSP) and they exclude lignin
and every other form of non-digestible starch in this definition.
Dietary fibre values are very dependent on the method of analysis
used to determine the value. British values for dietary fibre has
until recently been based on the Southgate method (sources 00802
Danish values for dietary fibre have been determined by the AOAC
method which gives slightly lower values than the Southgate
method. The AOAC method is also the preferred method for
declaration of dietary fibre in nutrition labelling.
Older American values are based on the 'crude fibre' method
(sources 00800 and 00804), which gives lower values than the AOAC
method while newer American values are based on the AOAC method
The predominant part of the dietary fibre values are based on
new analysis of Danish foods with the AOAC method.
Total sugars defines as all carbohydrates with the
exception of tetramers and higher compounds of
polyhydroxyaldehydes and polyhydroxyketones . This definition
includes monosaccharides (pentoses and hexoses), di- and
trisaccharides and the values stated for total sugars in the
tables are the sums of these saccharides. As examples can be
mentioned the sugars fructose and glucose present in especially
plant foods, the disaccharides sucrose (saccharose) in plant and
sweetened products, lactose (milk products) as well as maltose
(dark bread products). The trisaccharide raffinose, the pentoses
arabinose and xylose, and the monosaccharide mannose are rarely
present in foods.
The value for total sugars is the sum of all known sugars.
Therefore, the values are not always equal to the sum of the
sugars in the tables.
This definition of sugars is different than the definition of
total sugars in the European Directive on Nutrition Labelling,
which only includes mono- and disaccharides in the definition of
total sugars. As the trisaccharides are rarely found in food, the
value for total sugars corresponds well to the value calculated
according to the EU definition.
Added sugar is defined as refined or industrially
manufactured sucrose and other sugars, eventually in the form of
an ingredient in a food. Naturally occurring sugars in fruits,
vegetables and milk, etc. are not regarded as added sugars,
whereas added glucose, glucose syrup, starch syrup and other
hydrolysed starch products are regarded as added sugars .
In the present Nordic Nutrition Recommendations 2004 , the
term added sugar is represented by refined sugars (see
, page 188).
Normally, added sugar will be sucrose, which in acid environment
will hydrolyse into fructose and glucose.
The value for added sugar is not analysed but usually comes from
information like the food label. Therefore, there are a few
instances where the amount of 'added sugar' is not consistent
with other carbohydrate information for the food.
All carbohydrate values are given as g/100 g edible part.
Fat and fatty acids
The total fat content is the total lipid content of the food.
It is indicated together with the fatty acid conversion factor
(FACF). This conversion factor is used for calculation from total
fat to total fatty acid.
In general, the factors shown in table 4 are applied (from
Paul and Southgate, 1991).
Table 4. Fatty acid
conversion factors (FACF)*
Wheat, barley and
Oats, whole kernels
Milk, and milk
Fats and oils
all except coconut oil
Beef and lamb meat
fatty acid = FACF * total fat
These fatty acid conversion factor should be taken only as
indicative. Those wanting to work in detail with the fatty acid
composition must be aware that the fatty acid conversion factors
are determined experimentally and can vary substantially.
The fatty acid conversion factor is the ratio between the part
of the lipids (fat), which is fatty acids, and the total amount
of lipids (fat). All triglycerides contain a glycerol part that
does not belong to the fatty acid part. The theoretical maximum
for fatty acid C18 is 0.957, the rest is glycerol. In the case of
phospholipids an even smaller amount of the lipid is fatty
The total fat content is given as g/100 edible part.
The fatty acids are given as g/100 g edible part of the food
as well as in percent of amount total fatty acid (g/100 g total
In table 5 below, the usual trivial names and the systematic
names of the fatty acids are shown:
Table 5. The fatty
acids, their trivial and systematic names.
C 14:1 n-5
C 16:1, n-7
C 18:1, n-9
trans 9-Octadecenoic acid
C 18:1, n-7
cis 11-Octadecenoic acid
C 20:1, n-11 ?
C 22:1, n-9
C 22:1, n-11
C 24:1, n-9
C 18:2, n-6
C 18:3, n-3
C 18:3, n-6
C 18:4, n-3
C 20:4, n-6
C 20:5, n-3
Timnodonic acid, EPA
C 22:5, n-3
C 22:5, n-6
C 22:6, n-3
The value for 'Other fatty acids' is the sum of fatty acids
that have not been identified during the analysis and eventual
fatty acids not included specifically in the databank.
C18:3, n-6 (g -linolenic acid) is
not included in the databank at present as it is very seldom
found in foods.
The content of trans fatty acids is shown separately as a sum
in this databank. A very large amount of the trans fatty acids
occurring in foods is elaideic acid, which is included in C 18:1,
Other trans fatty acids are also present in foods, but their
presence is not yet well documented. Trans fatty acids occur
naturally in milk fat and meat from carnivores. They are also
formed during hardening of oils, for example oils used in
margarines. They are also formed by heating unsaturated fatty
acids in oils for deep frying.
The trans fatty acids in margarine cover a broad spectrum of
position isomers with the centre around n-7, n-8 and n-9, but
other isomers are also represented. In milk fat the C 18:1, trans
is dominated by the n-7 isomer (From Chow, C.K. (ed.), Fatty
Acids in Foods and their Health Implications, 1992).
Content of fatty acids in milk products
The fatty acid content of dairy products is calculated on the
basis of the products' content of milk fat. It is assumed that
the fatty acid content of milk and milk products shows a constant
and uniform distribution, this presumption is not completely
right as the fatty acid distribution in milk has a clear seasonal
variation and dependent on the feed and race of the cow.
Table 6 shows the average values used in the calculation of
the fatty acids in dairy products. The values have been derived
from results in reference no. 00324.
Table 6. Average
fatty acid profile in cow's milk fat
g fatty acid/100 g milk
The values for alcohol (ethanol) are given with the unit g/100
g. Note that this unit does not always correspond to vol. %. Vol.
% is the usual unit stated on labels on alcohol containing
beverages and it is typically higher than the unit g/100 g.
Values for water/moisture and ash are given partly because
they are used in the calculation of 'carbohydrate by difference',
partly because they may have common interest. Both values are
given with the unit g/100 g edible part.
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