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The Trouble With Nutrition Lables

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

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Today I decided to measure and weigh the beans in a can of black beans. The label says 40 % reduced sodium. (I always buy low or no added salt when I can find it.) It also says contents are equal to approx 3 1/2 servings of 1/2 cup each. Each serving is to be 130 grams. So I dumped the beans into the strainer, rinsed them well and began to measure.

The 1/2 cup serving was no where NEAR 130 grams. The can did not contain 1 3/4 cup of beans. It barely made the 1 1/2 cup.

Spark says if you drain and rinse well, you will reduce the sodium by approx. 40%. All the recipes I've ever read say drain and rinse the beans before you put them into your dish. So, if the measure is off, and the weight is off, I can only assume the nutrition label is telling me what I would consume if I used the sludge in the bottom of the can and the syrup surrounding the beans. To me, that is no help at all. I've asked several nutritionists, and they all say the same thing: I have no idea what the nutritional value is when the beans are drained and rinsed.

So, Spark Friends, what do you think of this situation?

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Don't think you oughta eat food that's labeled.
    1060 days ago
    I'm sure that the nutritional information on the can is for the entire contents of the can. Otherwise they would be in trouble with the labeling gods...

    I think NANCYHOME247 is on the right track. Dried beans expand to three times their volume when soaked and cooked. Spark's nutrition data-base has black beans that have been cooked with no salt in it. You could use that, but be aware that your canned beans would have more sodium in them, even after rinsing.

    2005 days ago
    Have to agree. The thoing that makes most sense is that the weight of the product listed on the can includes the weight of the liquid and sludge.

    I so often just use dry beans because then I can control the sodium . . . i.e. NONE added.

    But if I do use canned beans, I definitely rinse as you do. Never took the time to be as methodical as you . . . just took it for granted that the label was accurate. WRONG choice, obviously!

    2008 days ago
  • JEANNE229
    It is the same with some prepared foods, like a cakemix for instance. They give you values of the mix, but not of when you add egg, oil, etc. What you read is what is there, I guess. Right. Not very helpful.
    2008 days ago
    Good blog. Thanks for going to all of the trouble to check it out! We'd be surprised how many other things are like that!! emoticon
    2008 days ago
    The rule of thumb with diabetic exchange plans is 3/4 oz dry=2 oz cooked.=one exchange. I wish all recipes gave weights of ingredients. It's a LOT easier!
    2008 days ago
    OMG! This reminded me, that I totally forgot about the black beans I cooked yesterday!! I like to cook them up and package them up smaller and freeze them, and I totally forgot about them and left them out all night!!

    Drats. OH well. So cheap to make yourself, I just hate it when I do things like that.

    Thanks for sharing!


    Smile and Enjoy the Rest of Your Day!
    Melinda (gopintos)
    Dr Oz Show Fans Team
    2008 days ago
    Thanks for taking the time to do your own empirical research, and sharing your results. Valuable information.

    To propose an answer your question about how you can more accurately track these kinds of foods, why don't you compare the nutritional values listed for the equivalent amount of black beans you'd make yourself from dried beans, and compare with what's listed on the can. You can then intelligently "guesstimate" what you're eating. I've found another website helpful in tracking the micronutrients that aren't always listed on the Sparks website:

    2008 days ago
  • GABY1948
    I think it's disgusting that the world has gotten to a point that we can't trust ANYTHING anymore...good blog! Thanks
    2008 days ago
    I wish the nutrition labels were more accurate. Maybe they will improve. We need that information for our health.

    2008 days ago
    Nutrition label = guideline only.
    The weight on the label most likely contains the sludge :)
    2008 days ago
    I actually contact the Manufactures when I notice these sorts of anomalies. You may be surprised at the number of firms who do this :-(

    2008 days ago
    A puzzle
    2008 days ago
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