nutrition dataHere’s my new favorite link ever: Nutrition Data. I dare you to not waste hours looking at this thing.

It has all the nutritional information for any food you can think of – from its caloric ratio (fat to protein to carbs – see the picture to the right) to its nutrient balance to its filling factor. And, for people who’d rather not read five charts, it’s got a simple 0-5 star rating system for whether a food is 1) good for healthy weight loss 2) good for healthy weight gain and 3) good for general optimum health.

It’s also got a summary paragraph about each food that goes over the food’s best and worst qualities. And, of course, each page gives you each food’s traditional serving size, calories, and nutritional content.

At the bottom of each food screen it also gives you an option to search for a better food choice based on your health goals (gain healthy weight, lose healthy weight, or just be plain healthy). For example, I searched for dry roasted salted peanuts and then asked this magic nutrition machine to find me a better but similar option for optimum health. It thought for a minute and then told me I should probably try out beans or tofu or soy milk to get the same nutrients with less salt and fat. In short, it’s kind of like magic.

And there are a lot of other great features aside for learning about individual foods (as long as you ignore the fad-diet ads in the margins). They have a great list of healthy recipes (with all nutritional information included) and have a well-maintained blog with the latest nutrition news. (Taking a closer look at the site, it seems to be run by the magazine conglomerate Conde Nast, which is weird. They do produce good stuff, though.)

On the down side, there are a few too many stupid weight loss ads (for junk like diet pills) and, horrifyingly, nutritional information on many of the leading fast food chains. Shouldn’t they assume that if I’m eating at Taco Bell, something terribly has gone wrong with my day and that I’m not feeling too concerned about glycemic load or inflammation factor?

In general, I wouldn’t suggest looking up every single food you eat and wondering how you could have done better – but the food nerd in me loves visiting when I’m, say, sitting in my cubicle and wondering about soy a lot.