It is from this article. Here is the passage:

This is coming with a calorie ticket of 230, which makes legumes highly nutritious, calorie for calorie.

I can understand the phrase word for word, but calorie for calorie gives me a hard time.

  • I think it means compared with the other type of food with the same amount of calories, legumes are relatively nutritious because they have quite a remarkable nutrition profile according to the list in the previous context.
    – dan
    Oct 4, 2018 at 8:32
  • 1
    The sentence is elliptical. There is an underlying implied comparison with foods on average, using the calorie as the common unit of measure. 300 calories of legumes are more nutritious than 300 calories of the average food. Gallon for gallon, these newer cars get high mileage [compared to older cars, which don't get high mileage]
    – TimR
    Oct 4, 2018 at 12:31

1 Answer 1


A common sports idiom is pound for pound which is used to (unofficially) compare the skill of two boxers who may be in a different weight class and would not officially compete against each other.

Pound for pound, he is the best fighter even though he is only featherweight class.

It is a way to compare two or more things that are not normally compared, by adjusting for (normalizing) this one aspect.

In your example, legumes provide a high amount of nutrition compared to other foods that have the same amount of calories.

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