ENHANCING NUTRIENT CONTENT OF FOOD

Food that we eat is the main source of our energy and nourishment. But amongst the developing countries proper nutrition for all is a tedious task due to the financial condition and the scarce availability. Thus, we have to be innovative and adapt a few scientific tricks with our regular food. The process through which the nutrient composition can be enhanced is called Enrichment. This is done because of the following benefits like:

  • To meet the nutritional needs within a fixed budget.
  • To make proper selection and preparation of foods.
  • To make a balanced meal plan.
  • To improve the flavour and texture of the food.
  • To improve the variety and palatability.
  • To prevent deficiency diseases in the community.
  • To develop good food habits.

There are mainly 3 major natural processes of enrichment :

During the fermentation process foods get fermented naturally in the presence of good microbes resulting in a nutritionally enhanced quality product. Microbes convert naturally occurring nutrients into its simpler forms and make it easily available for the body. Example of a few fermented foods in daily life are curd, bread, etc. Here are some of the advantages of fermentation: 

  • It improves the digestibility of the food. The microbes during fermentation break the proteins and carbohydrates into simpler molecules, which are easier to digest.
  • It also reduces the anti-nutritional factors present in cereal and pulses like phytates, and make the micronutrient easily absorbable.
  • Fermented foods are naturally soft and spongy like idli, which is more liked by the children and old people. 

         

Germination is a process in which small shoots come out of the cereal or pulses when these are kept with a small amount of water. While soaking in an adequate amount of water the seeds absorb it and with proper temperature and moisture it flourishes the shoots. But one thing should be kept in mind that excess water should be drained otherwise it can spoil the grains. Any grains like Bengal gram, green gram, bajra can be germinated and used directly as a raw form like green gram salad, Bengal gram sprout chaat etc. They can also be used after processing like the powder made from germinated grains after roasting or a chila made from sprouted grains paste.

 Germination helps to:

  • Increase the digestibility
  • Increase the nutritional profile within low cost 

         

When germination is followed by fermentation, vitamin contents of food become highly available. Vitamin B becomes almost double in quantity while vitamin C increases almost approximately 10 times. For eg, the idli made from combination process will be nutritionally richer than the rational method i.e only fermentation.

If one component of food is lacking in a particular nutrient, then the Combination technique can be helpful filling in the gap of the particular missing nutrient to complete its nutrient profile. Like cereals lack in lysine (essential amino acid) and pulses are generally deficit in methionine (essential amino acid). Therefore, to enhance the essential amino acid profile we can make a combination of cereals and pulses to get all essential amino acids.

As a take-home message, while preparing the food we have to be more creative not only in terms of taste but also look towards enhancing the nutritional profile.

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