I’ve always had trouble waking up in the mornings, so growing up I often chose to roll out of bed with just enough time to get dressed and brush my teeth, forgoing breakfast. My mother obviously found this worrying and subsequently tried many tactics to get me to eat the most important meal of the day. The one that was most effective was packing two freshly toasted Eggo Homestyle Waffles, wrapped in paper towel, for me to eat on the bus or on my walk or in the car. Sometimes they would surround a chicken patty or some cheddar cheese to make a basic breakfast sandwich that thrilled my unsophisticated palate. More often than not, they were plain. But I was eating breakfast. I wanted to revisit these waffles to explore how much nutrition my mom was actually providing to me in my formative years. At first glance, I’m confused by the amount of vitamins listed in these waffles. Were they sneaking me nutrients without my consent? Of course, getting me to eat anything was a challenge because I was super picky, so eternal props to my mom either way.
Examining the Nutrition Label
There is no recommended Daily Value for protein because eating more protein is not thought to cause harm, so I cannot calculate a %DV for protein.
Each gram of protein contributes 4 calories.
One serving of these waffles contains 4.27 grams of protein.
One serving contains 4.27 grams x 4 calories/gram of protein or 17 calories from protein.
This food contains 6.09 grams of fat or ~9% of the recommended Daily Value for fat (~65g). This means that it contributes about ~9% of the daily fat allotment for a 2,000 Calorie, ~30% fat diet calculated by the FDA to be healthy. This is therefore an approximate average value because not everyone wants or needs to consume a 2,000 Calorie, 30% fat diet.
These waffles contain mostly unsaturated fats (~5 of 7 grams) and some saturated fats (~2 of 7 grams), with negligible trans fats listed. This includes 2.38 grams of monounsaturated fatty acids, 1.75 grams of polyunsaturated fats, 1.54 grams of saturated fats, and 0.070 grams of trans fats.
Saturated fatty acids have straight structure, making them more stackable and therefore increasing the number of intermolecular Van Der Waals connections. Saturated fats are therefore likely to be solid at room temperature. Trans fats are unsaturated fatty acids where the units of unsaturation only kink the structure rather than folding it, so they still stack relatively well and form a good amount of intermolecular attractions. Saturated and trans fats can raise the level of cholesterol in the blood, which can increase risk of cardiovascular disease, so it is better to have them in limited amounts.
Each gram of fat contains 9 calories.
These waffles contain 6.09 grams of fat.
One serving contains 6.09 grams of fat x 9 calories per gram or 55 calories from fat.
The FDA defines additives, saying “In its broadest sense, a food additive is any substance added to food. Legally, the term refers to ‘any substance the intended use of which results or may reasonably be expected to result — directly or indirectly — in its becoming a component or otherwise affecting the characteristics of any food.’ “
Some different classes of additives include
- Preservatives, which
- prevent food spoilage from bacteria, molds, fungi, or yeast (antimicrobials),
- slow or prevent changes in color, flavor, or texture and delay rancidity (antioxidants),
- and maintain freshness.
- Sweeteners, which
- add sweetness with or without the extra calories.
- Color Additives, which
- offset color loss due to exposure to light, air, temperature extremes, moisture and storage conditions;
- correct natural variations in color;
- enhance colors that occur naturally;
- and provide color to colorless and “fun” foods.
- Nutrients, which
- replace vitamins and minerals lost in processing (enrichment) or
- add nutrients that may be lacking in the diet (fortification).
- Emulsifiers, which
- allow smooth mixing of ingredients,
- prevent separation,
- keep emulsified products stable,
- reduce stickiness,
- control crystallization,
- keep ingredients dispersed,
- and to help products dissolve more easily.
- Stabilizers and Thickeners, Binders, Texturizers, which
- Produce uniform texture and improve “mouth-feel”.
- Leavening Agents, which
- promote rising of baked goods.
- and more…
These Eggo waffles actually have quite a lot of additives, so let’s break all the ingredients down:
- Food Ingredients
- In Enriched Flour
- Wheat Flour
- Vegetable Oil
- In Enriched Flour
- In Enriched Flour
- Niacin – nutrient: fortifier
- Reduced Iron – nutrient: fortifier
- Vitamin B1 (thiamin mononitrate) – nutrient: fortifier
- Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) – nutrient: fortifier
- Folic Acid – nutrient: fortifier
- Sugar – sweetener
- Baking Soda – leavening
- Sodium Aluminum Phosphate – leavening
- Monocalcium Phosphate – leavening
- Whey – fat replacer and/or stabilizers and thickeners, binders, texturizers
- Soy Lecithin – emulsifier
- Yellow 5 – color
- Yellow 6 – color
- Beta-carotene – color
- Sugar – sweetener
- Vitamins and Minerals
- Calcium Carbonate – leavening
- Vitamin A Palmitate – presumably nutrient
- Reduced Iron – presumably nutrient
- Niacinamide – nutrient: fortifier
- Vitamin B12 – nutrient: fortifier
- Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine hydrochloride) – nutrient: fortifier
- Vitamin B1 (thiamin hydrochloride) – nutrient: fortifier
- In Enriched Flour
Featured Vitamins and Minerals
via Calcium Carbonate (pictured)
“Calcium is a mineral found in many foods. The body needs calcium to maintain strong bones and to carry out many important functions. Almost all calcium is stored in bones and teeth, where it supports their structure and hardness.
The body also needs calcium for muscles to move and for nerves to carry messages between the brain and every body part. In addition, calcium is used to help blood vessels move blood throughout the body and to help release hormones and enzymes that affect almost every function in the human body.”
If you don’t get enough calcium, it can lead to loss of bone mass because the blood will leach calcium away from the bone to maintain function. In rare cases, calcium deficiency can lead to numbness and tingling, convulsions, and abnormal heart rhythms. However, too much calcium can lead to constipation or even kidney stones.
via enriched flour
“Niacin (also called vitamin B3) helps turn the food you eat into the energy you need. Niacin is important for the development and function of the cells in your body.”
Niacin deficiency leads to a disease called pellagra, which can lead to rough skin, vomiting, depression, headaches, fatigue, hallucinations, loss of memory, loss of appetite, and even death.
Fiber in food comes from plant matter, so in these waffles the fiber likely comes from the flour. This is likely a good mix of soluble and insoluble fiber. Fiber comes from the cell walls of plant cells, where insoluble fiber acts as rebar and soluble fiber acts as cement in the walls. All-purpose flour has about equal amounts of soluble and insoluble fiber, so these waffles likely do too.
There are 27g of carbohydrates listed and 0.8g of fiber.
27g x 4 cal/g = 108 cal
108 cal from carb + 55 cal from fat + 17 cal from protein = 180 cal (pretty close to 190 cal – this is the right option)
27 – 0.8 = 26.2g (if I subtract fiber) : 26.2 g x 4 cal/g = 104.8 cal
104.8 cal from carb + 55 cal from fat + 17 cal from protein = 176.8 cal (not as close to 190 cal)
Total Calories – 190 cal for 2 waffle serving.
In the body of this piece I’ve used the grams of each nutrient listed on the USDA food report, but for this final piece I got the grams of each nutrient from the label.
Fat 7g = 7g x 9 cal/g = 63 calories from fat
Protein 4g: = 4g x 4cal/g = 16 calories from protein
Carbs 27g: there is less than 1g of fiber listed – you never know if the fiber has been correctly subtracted, so do the calculation both ways.
(option 1) 27g x 4 cal/g = 108 cal
108 cal from carb + 63 cal from fat + 16 cal from protein = 187 cal (pretty close to 190 cal – this is the right option)
Option 2 subtracts fiber but as the nutrition label lists less than 1 gram, there is nothing to subtract.
In my example above, I checked to see if the manufacturer had subtracted out the fiber from the carbohydrate calories by comparing the calories I get with the total calories on the label. In this case, the amount of fiber calories was negligible, and I did not need to calculate them again, but this isn’t always the case.
Now, I’m going to calculate a percentage for each macronutrient:
I am dividing by 187 cal because that is the number I calculated from the grams of macronutrients
108 cal from carb: (108/187)*100 = 57.75% calories from carbohydrate
63 cal from fat: (63/187)*100 = 33.69% calories from fat
16 cal from protein: (16/187)*100 = 8.56% calories from protein
57.75% + 33.69% + 8.56% = 100% yay! All the percents should all up to 100% (or close to it).