Health Care

New site gives MRE nutrition facts

Ever want to know exactly how many calories are in the crunchy crackers in most MREs before you are about to wolf them down?

What about the nutrition value of an entire Pork Sausage Patty, Maple, meal?

This information is readily available on the packaging of combat rations. But a new online database now lets troops get that information before they get into the field.

The Combat Rations Database, or ComRaD, was launched Monday by the Defense Department's Human Performance Resource Center and Army researchers to give personnel more information on their field rations, from calorie counts and fat content to vitamin information, cholesterol stats and more.

"Trying to maintain an effective nutritional program is challenging to warriors in training and in a deployable status. ... ComRaD provides our service members with a unique tool to aid in fueling for performance," said Navy Master Chief Hospital Corpsman Patrick Hyde, brigade command senior enlisted leader at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.

For example, according to the database, the crackers have 170 calories, 5 grams of fat, including 1.5 grams of trans fat, 208 milligrams of sodium, 27 grams of carbs, 3 grams of protein — and, for those watching their added sugar content — zero sugars.

And, they contain 22 percent of the recommended daily allowance for riboflavin.

That pork patty meal? It has 1,345 calories, 82 grams of fat — including 26 grams of saturated fat and 3 grams of trans fat — a whopping 39 grams of protein and 46 grams of sugar.

The website gives information on MREs made since 2012, First Strike Rations, Meal Cold Weather/Long Range Patrol rations and each option's individual components.

Military dietitians said they decided to make the information available online so troops can track their nutrition intake and manage their diets better.

"This new website provides military dietitians with up-to-date, accurate and easily accessible nutrition information on ration components, which is essential when educating warriors on proper fueling during missions," said Julie Smith, a senior food technologist at the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, Massachusetts.

Future plans for the website include providing information on unitized group rations and offering a meal-tracker for service members to input their food choices and monitor calorie intake and nutrition, said developers at HPRC, the Soldier Research Center and the Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, also in Natick.

"This website puts real-time nutritional information at the tip of the warrior's fingers in order to prepare, plan and execute his or her nutritional program," Hyde said.

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