The NCC Food and Nutrient Database is deeply relational in its design. It contains a collection of relations (tables) that include various data elements that are utilized to enter and analyze dietary recalls, records, menus, and recipes in NDSR. Dozens of tables exist in the database. A sampling of these tables is as follows:
- Nutrient composition values per 100 grams for foods
- Food amount units for foods in the database with gram weight assignments for each unit
- Density forms for foods in the database with gram weight assignments per volumetric quantity (e.g., grams of carrot in 1 cup of diced, grated, and sliced carrots)
- Preparation codes and accompanying nutrient estimation algorithms for foods that may be prepared in various ways (e.g., preparation codes for chicken breast include fried, baked, microwave cooked, broiled, grilled, steamed, stewed, boiled, or stir fried)
- Variable ingredient options for each preparation code (e.g., possible fats that may be used if a food item is prepared by frying)
Although complicated to develop and maintain, the advantages of the structure of the NCC Food and Nutrient Database are numerous. Most notably, by linking ingredient choices and preparation methods to food items in the database, a food item may be created in NDSR that closely matches the food for which nutrient composition information is sought.