Sunday, February 4, 2018

Enhancing The Nutritional Value Of Foods


Sometimes we don't see the forest for the trees.  And the nutrition field is no exception to this.  When it comes to healthy eating, you know how important it is to eat well-balanced meals and foods high in nutrients values.  With increasing world population and limited food resources, it’s really important for you to get maximum nutritional value out of every bit of food you buy.  And you can achieve this by improving the nutritive quality of foods by preventing or reducing the loss of nutrients in food preparations and by avoiding wastage of food.  By enhancing the nutritional values in food, you can meet the nutritional requirements of the body and can prevent deficiency diseases in the body.


So, how can you do that?  There are a few ways to get the maximum nutritional values from your foods and that are germination, fermentation, food synergy, and food fortification.  You might be already familiar with these terms, let’s talk about how you can enhance the nutrients present in a food by each of these methods.

Germination:


Germination, also known as sprouting, is an effective traditional, non-thermal process that enhances the nutritional values of cereals and legumes/pulses by increasing nutrient digestibility, minimizing the activities or levels of antinutritional substances, reducing the gluten contents, improving the contents of free amino acids and available carbohydrate, and boosting the functional properties.

The foods that can be germinated are all seeds which can be eaten raw, steamed or cooked completely.  Many kinds of seeds such as grains, beans, and grasses are used for sprouting.  As you know, the process of sprouting involves soaking the grain or pulse in water and then wrapping them in a damp paper towel or cloth.  In two or three days the grains germinate and the sprout grows.  The time and water which each pulse or grain needs for soaking and sprouting is different.  Normally 8-12 hours are needed for soaking and one to two days for sprouting.


A number of health and nutritional benefits can be obtained from this process which includes high levels of dietary fibers, proteins, B complex vitamins, and vitamin c.  Dry grains and pulses usually do not contain vitamin C, but when they are allowed to germinate, vitamin c is formed in the grain and in the growing sprout.  Sprouts are more nutritious than its older counterparts of itself i.e. the seeds.  Due to the significant outcome of germination, sprouted pulses and grains are extensively accepted as functional foods.  This is one of the best ways to extract the maximum nutrients from a food item at no additional cost.  Sprouts are really a living food and are the genuine stars of the vegetable world.

Fermentation:


Natural fermentation in food takes place when environmental situations permit interaction between microorganisms and the food substance.  The process of fermentation stimulates the multiplication of specific microorganisms, which are beneficial to our body, and their metabolic activity in food.  Fermentation breaks down the indigestible compounds into smaller parts, making the structures more pervious to the cooking water as well as to our digestive juices.

Fermented foods are often more nutrient-rich than the unfermented versions of themselves because the microorganisms not only break-down more complex compounds, but they also synthesize various complex vitamins such as vitamin c, vitamin b12, and riboflavin.  Along with that, fermented foods also help in keeping our guts optimally healthy as it contains beneficial probiotics.  Fermented foods, especially dairy foods, contain specific strains of bacteria that stimulate the health of your digestive tract.


A wide range of fermented food products is made use of by people of different countries all around the world.  Some of them are yogurt, curds, butter, buttermilk, pickles, cheese, cream cheese, coffee beans, idli, and dhokla, all these are made with the help of lactic acid bacteria; dosa (an Indian food) which is made by bacteria alone or in combination with yeasts; vinegar which is made by bacteria producing acetic acid; cocoa which is made by yeast along with acetic acid producing bacteria.

As we need a healthy balance of microorganisms in our bodies, fermented foods are just excellent.  So, include a variety of your favorite fermented foods in your diet to get the maximum nutrients from a food and to keep your guts healthy.

Food Synergy:


Sometimes we get so focused on the health benefits of a specific phytochemical or vitamin that we often miss that “different elements in a single food can work together to benefit our health, and so can elements in different foods that are eaten together.”  The pairing of foods from different food groups is the easiest way of getting all nutrients.  Food synergy is the concept that involves combining of foods together to increase their health effects and these healthy foods pairings help our body maximize its nutrient intake.

For good health, it's really very important to eat a variety of foods.  So if you want to make your meal healthier, try eating whole grains, legumes, nuts, vegetables, and fruit; these are the great examples of foods in the natural form that are rich in a combination of important minerals, vitamins, proteins, fiber, antioxidants, and more.  Some of the Indian traditional dishes like khichadi, rice-dal, dal-roti/chapati, puran-poli, appe, idli-sambhar, upma-sambhar, tamarind rice, are a few examples of such nutritionally beneficial foods combinations.  The combination of a variety of foods ensures a better availability of nutrients and it is another best way to enhance maximum nutrients from a food.

Food Fortification:


Food fortification, also known as food enrichment, is a method to add nutrients to a particular food item at higher levels than what the original food provides.  Nutrients selected to be fortified are those that are probably to run into short supply because of either dietary habits or prejudices, or due to the lack of ability of the people to buy foods that contain them, or because the foods that are assumed to contain them do not do so in a certain area.  Other criteria for selection are to be able to mix a nutrient with a food item without affecting its acceptability, and the all in all cost of such fortification.  Food items chosen for fortification are those that are consumed by the widest cross-section of the community.  Common examples of fortification include adding iron and/or zinc to wheat flour, iodine in common salt, vitamins A and D in hydrogenated fats, vitamin C to fruit drinks and so on.

The nutritional qualities of food are almost always altered by the type of processing it undergoes and you can indeed expect to see dramatic changes in your overall health by introducing these processes of food enhancing into your daily meal plan.  So, if you’ve already been doing these things, it’s great.  If not, then include these methods to enhance the nutritive values of your meal and make your meal even healthier.

Stay Blessed, Be Happy...!! :-)
Preeti

20 comments:

  1. I had no idea that the cycle of food could change it's nutritional value, most definitely interesting reading.

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  2. Is’nt it amazing how many Indian recipes are make using these methods and yet it’s always the overly spiced oily dishes served in restaurants!

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  3. Yes, choosing nutrient-dense food and following simple steps for proper preparation is so important. Listening to my elders' wise advice has taught me as much as the formal study of nutrition, and there is so much wisdom within the traditional ways of growing, preparing and combining foods.

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  4. I love the idea of adding nutrients to those that already exist in that particular food. It's a great way to get all the vitamins and nutritions that you need.

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  5. I never knew about the germination process allowing vit c to be developed! That is so cool

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  6. Very informative post! I made big changes in my diet and general lifestyle several years ago in hopes that it would improve my energy/concentration, digestive issues, skin issues, etc. I started eating a lot better (removing highly processed foods, sugar, dairy, etc. and increasing intake of fruit and vegetables), and this in combination with regular exercise has worked wonders for me.
    It really saddens me when people jump straight into taking medication from problems instead of trying to make changes in their lifestyle...
    Thanks again for this!

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  7. This is such an informative post full of helpful info. THank you so much for sharing this all with us and helping people live a healthier life.

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  8. This is so informative and very helpful to me who is trying to eat a better balanced diet. I didn't know about so many of these points!

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  9. This is so interesting and informative! It must have taken a lot of research to bring this all together! From a med student perspective, I think food synergy is a super important point, and one that so many people forget or don't know about! x

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  10. This is one of the most useful post I came across when it comes to planning diet and meals. I loved reading it and will be implementing it as well.

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  11. I've never thought about the food in that prospective. I personally prefer to eat raw nuts. Thanks for sharing such interesting information.
    Healthy LifeStyle

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  13. Good to know! I know i need to start eating better. I do always try to eat a variety of foods!

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  14. I love fermented foods. I use a fermented protein powder every day.

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  15. Thanks for this post. I did not know that you could create nutritionally beneficial foods combinations. It's good to know for the future!

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  16. With the diet that many of us eat, this post is very helpful. Trying to eat a balanced diet is a difficult thing but understanding some of your tips can make a big difference.

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  17. i eat a lot of fermented foods from kimchi to sauerkraut to bucha. i also try to get my hands on probiotic yogurt. i also do a lot of nut sproutings.

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  18. This post makes me realize how important it is to have a balance diet. Definitely informative! Thanks for sharing.

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  19. I had never thought of food this way before. Such a great post.

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  20. A healthy diet definitely gives a healthier life..
    Worth the read!!

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