The cost of a nutrient

In the US, the challenge is to get your daily nutritional requirements without exceeding the caloric budget. So the more pressing calculation is something like calcium or vitamin B or protein or fiber per calorie.

A reader wrote to me to bring up the idea that cost/calorie is not the only thing worth optimizing. So I did some (very dull) data entry from the Progresso website until I got sick of it. And then I made some charts! The first thing I did was make a chart of fiber per calorie as suggested by my reader:


Not all the soup labels show up, but you can see that the “High Fiber” soups actually have more fiber. And of course beans win the fiber/calorie battle. But I was surprised about which soups had almost no fiber in them. Which made me wonder about other things as well…
Which made me rethink the way we look at vegetable classic “hearty” tomato as it has very little fiber, low calcium and lots of sugar. I propose the following alteration to the soup label to reflect this fact:


Actually I noticed a trend in tomato soup. Tomato soup has a LOT of sugar in it! It doesn’t matter if it’s hearty healthy, classic or hearty; tomato soup contains lots of sugar! Darn those fruit based soups!

About Samantha from SocialMath

Applied Mathematician and writer of
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2 Responses to The cost of a nutrient

  1. Just an ordinary scientist. says:

    OMG, eating healthy is so complex. Is there NOTHING that doesn’t require a mathematician to figure out?

  2. aH says:

    Those spikes in the last graph make me want to spear tomatoes on them!

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