A clear guide with a detailed overview of the nutritional values of more than 800 foods. This subtitle provides an apt summary of the contents of the book “De Voedingswaardewijzer” by nutritionist Juglen Zwaan. The visual presentation is nicer than alternative editions in this area, but they contain almost 2 to 3 times as much food and are a lot cheaper to purchase.
Reference work in book form
For those who want to know the nutritional value of products, there are online options such as NEVO-online and Mijn Eetmeter, which is also available as an app. However, it can be useful for you and your clients or patients to have a reference book in the form of a book. The author, Juglen Zwaan, looked for a book like De Voedingswaardewijzer, but discovered that it did not yet exist. He then decided to make this book himself. Zwaan is a speaker and writer on nutrition and health. He studied Nutrition and Health at the Open University and Nutrition Science at Stanford.
The Nutrition Guide lists the nutritional value of 800 everyday foods per food group – from potatoes to meat products. The nutritional value is displayed per 100 grams as well as per serving unit. ‘Never before has such an extensive and complete book with visual presentations of the nutritional values been published’, says the back cover of the book. As for comprehensiveness and completeness, I disagree. For example, the Eating Table of the Netherlands Nutrition Center contains more than 2,300 foods, so almost 3 times as much. However, the Eating Table only shows kilocalories, protein, carbohydrates, sugars, fat, saturated fat, dietary fiber and salt per serving unit. The Dutch food table of the Netherlands Nutrition Center also contains vitamins and minerals and contains approximately 1,500 foods, so almost twice as much. Both editions are also a lot cheaper (€ 8.95 each).
Admittedly: the visual presentation of De Voedingswaardewijzer is much nicer. Where the editions of the Nutrition Center contain fairly bare tables, Zwaan has grouped the nutritional value per product in 4 compact tables with macronutrients, vitamins, minerals and carotenoids. For an even clearer picture, there is always a small photo of the product.
How much of a certain nutrient one consumes is made visually visible with a percentage bar, which states what percentage of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) a nutrient contains per portion of the product. That looks clear for “healthy” nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. But such a percentage bar also shows, for example, the amount of kcal, sugar, saturated fat, sodium and cholesterol. This may give readers the impression that more of this is better. It is true that the color of the bar for nutrients that should be consumed as little as possible is gray instead of green, but that also applies to substances for which no ADH is available, such as beta-carotene. And visually, the difference between the two colors is not very big. It is also strange that sodium has a green bar, even though salt intake should be reduced.
Food Value Score
In addition to all nutritional values, Zwaan also lists various product scores, such as the NutriScore and the Glycemic Index (GI) and Glycemic Load (GL) of some – but certainly not all – foods. He also developed his own score for the nutrient density of foodstuffs: the Food Value Score (FVS). The FVS not only takes into account calories, sugar, salt and fat, but also looks at the presence of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients in foods. In addition, the balance between healthy and unhealthy nutrients such as saturated versus unsaturated fat, sugar versus fiber and sodium versus potassium is taken into account. In addition, extra attention is paid to nutrients that Westerners often have a shortage of, according to Zwaan, such as potassium, vitamins D and E, omega 3 fatty acids, iodine and magnesium. These weigh more heavily in the calculation, which is not shared in the book. The result is a number between 0 and 100, with Zwaan recommending avoiding products with a score below 30 as much as possible. Products between 30 and 70 can be consumed in moderation and products with scores above 70 are so nutritious that they can be included on the menu. Some examples: whole wheat pasta scores 76, compared to white pasta with an FVS of 40. Whole wheat bread has an FVS of 71, brown bread of 37 and white bread scores 33. Sounds logical. Less logical to me is that coffee, like tap water, scores a 74, but tea only scores 51. Full-fat and semi-skimmed yogurt both score 74, while low-fat yogurt has a score of 62. For milk, the score is highest for the semi-skimmed variant (53), followed by whole milk (51) and finally skimmed milk (40). After all, it’s a bit bizarre that breast milk has an FSV of only 37.
The nutritional guide. A clear guide with detailed presentation of the nutritional values of more than 800 foods. Juglen Zwaan, aHealthylife BV, ISBN 9789083317908, 496 pages € 35,-