Foods & Nutrients

Food Characteristics

Food Characteristics can assist with menu planning by allowing another means to sort database foods. The foods included or not included in a characteristic are general suggestions and should not be used for specific allergy or food sensitivity recommendations.

“Other Carbs” defined

The Other Carbohydrate field includes starch, plus any other compounds that are not specifically fiber or 6-carbon sugars. These other compounds might include organic acids, pentose sugars, or sugar alcohols.

Other Carbohydrate = Total Carbohydrate - (Total Dietary Fiber + Total Sugar)

Net Carb

There is not an official government definition of Net Carb at this time. In our software programs Net Carb is defined as:

Net Carb = Total Carbohydrate - (Dietary Fiber + Sugar Alcohol)

If the Dietary Fiber and/or Sugar Alcohol values are missing (unknown) from food item data, the Net Carb calculation will treat the missing value(s) like zeros. For example, if both the Dietary Fiber and Sugar Alcohol values are missing, the Net Carb value would be equal to the Total Carbohydrate value, which may over-represent the Net Carb value. It is therefore important to also look at the Dietary Fiber and Sugar Alcohol values of foods and recipes when assessing the Net Carb value.

Other fats

Total fat can include the entire fat molecule (fatty acids + glycerol backbone), but the fatty acid groups (saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated) include only the associated fatty acids. The glycerol component can make up roughly 5% of the total fat, so a typical analysis could have about 5% in the “other fats” component from the glycerol. If your analysis includes more than 5% in the “other fats” category, this may be due to missing values in the fatty acid groups. Saturated fat is a required label nutrient, but mono and poly fat are not, so many manufacturers do not provide mono and poly fat data for their products.

Fortification of Grains

Breads, flours, and cereals have different levels of fortification in the U.S. and Canada. This program uses U.S. data unless otherwise stated. Canadian information is supplied by the Canadian Nutrient file.


Saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats may not add up to the total fat due to the presence of glycerol in the total fat molecule, to the presence of trans fatty acids in the food and/or missing values in any of the fatty acid fields.

The type of fats in recipes and combination foods can vary greatly depending on the types of oils or fats used in them. Also, manufacturers may list several kinds of oil in their ingredients because sources of supply vary during the year.

Trans Fatty Acids (TFA)

Trans Fatty Acids are fats created when oils are hydrogenated for the purpose of making them more solid at room temperature. This process inadvertently creates TFA, which are normally found only in small quantities in nature. All foods that use shortening and margarines with hydrogenated fats will contain some of the TFA, which, in larger quantities, may be a risk factor in your diet.

In July 2003, the FDA passed a ruling making trans fat mandatory on the Nutrition Facts label. The rule became effective on Jan. 1, 2006.

Omega 3 and Omega 6 Fatty Acids

These polyunsaturated fats are important to good health. Omega 3 fatty acids are the sum of the fatty acids 18:3 Linolenic, 18:4 SDA, 20:5 EPA, 22:5 DPA and 22:6 DHA. Omega 6 fatty acids are the sum of the fatty acids 18:2 Linoleic and 20:4 Arachidonic.