Unit of energy used in nutrition / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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The calorie is a unit of energy that originated from the obsolete caloric theory of heat. For historical reasons, two main definitions of "calorie" are in wide use. The large calorie, food calorie, dietary calorie, or kilogram calorie was originally defined as the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of one kilogram of water by one degree Celsius (or one kelvin). The small calorie or gram calorie was defined as the amount of heat needed to cause the same increase in one gram of water. Thus, 1 large calorie is equal to 1000 small calories.
In nutrition and food science, the term calorie and the symbol cal almost always refers to the large unit. It is generally used in publications and package labels to express the energy value of foods in per serving or per weight, recommended dietary caloric intake, metabolic rates, etc. Some authors recommend the spelling Calorie and the symbol Cal (both with a capital C) to avoid confusion; however, this convention is often ignored.
In physics and chemistry the word calorie and its symbol usually refer to the small unit; the large one being called kilocalorie. However, this unit is not officially part of the metric system (SI), and is regarded as obsolete, having been replaced in many uses by the SI unit of energy, the joule (J).
The precise equivalence between calories and joules has varied over the years, but in thermochemistry and nutrition it is now generally assumed that one (small) calorie (thermochemical calorie) is equal to exactly 4.184 J, and therefore one kilocalorie (one large calorie) is 4184 J, or 4.184 kJ.