- The Indian Food Composition Table has a list of raw and cooked food items with its nutritional content.
- The table was originally framed in 1971 by the National Institute of Nutrition.
- Now it is available in the form of an App with nutritional contents of food, ranging from street-snacks, restaurant fare and meals cooked at home.
The Union health ministry of India is set to launch an App linked to an Indian food database that has the nutritional content of foods. The database is one of a kind as it has an array of foods ranging from home-cooked to street and restaurant food.
The App will rely on the Indian Food Composition Tables-2017 released by the Hyderabad-based National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) and listing values of various nutrients in 528 foods, including cereals, legumes, fruits and vegetables, condiments and spices, fish, meat and poultry products, among others.
‘The App can be used by dietitians to plan meals, by food manufacturers while choosing ingredients for a product and to determine labels on their products.’
The tables were first released by the NIN in 1971 and has a list of nutrients including dietery fibre, vitamins, carotenoids, minerals, starch and sugar, fatty acids, amino acids, among several other nutrients in various foods commonly used across India.
Jagat Prakash Nadda, the Union Health Minister, told that he has directed the NIN to develop an App that could be used by consumers. "We want to simplify this heavy-weight 2kg book into an App which consumers could understand and use to maintain healthy food practices," Nadda said.
The App, which will provide values of calories, carbohydrates, proteins, fats, sugar, key vitamins among other nutrition-linked parameters for various foods, is expected to be ready for release in about two months, senior NIN scientists said.
Similar nutrient-tracking Apps are already available for use on mobile phones but, the App may be tailored to provide some additional information not available through most existing Apps.
"The 2017 food composition tables will be the backbone for this App," said Soumya Swaminathan, director general of the Indian Council of Medical Research, NIN's parent institution. The tables contain information not documented earlier, she said.
The tables, for example, list the values of several key nutrients, such as bone-friendly vitamin-D in plant products, immunity-boosting phytochemicals in common Indian foods for the first time, NIN scientists said.
The tables display how values of some nutrients may change in certain foods when cooked in different ways - for instance when an egg is consumed boiled or as an omelette.
The scientists said the App would allow consumers to determine values of these nutrients, among others, in whatever food they plan to consume - whether a samosa from the street, a pizza ordered in a restaurant, or home-cooked dal and chappatis.
"We expect the food composition tables to have many applications," Swaminathan said.
Doctors could use the tables to prescribe the most appropriate diets to patients, food processing companies may use them to determine labels on their products, and policy-makers could use them to guide nutrition policies, she said.