"How Does Food Processing Affect Nutrient Quality? " is a well-written example of a paper on food and nutrition. Food processing may refer to a method of preparing raw food into a palatable material. This is where raw food undergoes a transformation process which makes it either tasty or prolongs its shelf life (Dabbene, & Gay, 2011). On the other hand, nutritional quality is the value of food that has physical importance on one’ s body (Block, Grier, Childers, Davis, Ebert, Kumanyika, & Ginkel, 2011). The process of food preparation, which is processing, affects this value in one way or another. Food processing is an aspect people cannot avoid at this time and age.
Despite numerous criticisms against processing, it is part of life in most parts of the world. Current industrialization makes people continue consuming foods that undergo processing. In fact, most foods that people eat on daily basis undergo processing in one way or another (Monteiro, Levy, Claro, Castro, & Cannon, 2011). However, this fact does not disqualify the negative aspect of food processing on nutrient quality. The research proves that when most foods undergo processing, they deteriorate in terms of nutritional value (Elleuch, Bedigian, Roiseux, Besbes, Blecker, & Attia, 2011).
Note that different processing methods have different effects on food nutrients. This implies that some methods of processing may add value to the food while others reduce the nutritional value (Henry and Heppell, 2010). It is important to look at several factors that affect food nutrient quality in the course of processing. These include the processing method, type of food, and process duration among other factors. When one understands these factors, it is easier to know what to do to prevent a negative impact on food nutrient quality (Endel and Robert, 2009). It is also vital to understand the need for processing.
Some foods ought to undergo processing to be suitable for both human and animal consumption. It makes some foods tasty especially those that are not palatable in their raw state. Some foods are also tough and hard such that they need processing in order to become softer. In addition, the processing is also vital in seasonal and perishable foods that are not always available throughout.
These foods undergo processing for preservation purposes thus prolonging their shelf life. How Food Processing Affect Nutrient Quality Most food preparation processes have effects on nutrient quality. Some nutrients such as vitamins B and C are soluble in water. When one boils food containing vitamins B and C in water, these nutrients dissolve in water thus making the food lose such critical value. A good example is when one boils potatoes for a long time (Henry and Heppell, 2010). The potatoes lose all vitamin B and C and one can only recover the nutrient by consuming the potato soup. Exposure to excessive heat is the major cause of nutrient loss in most foods (Patras, Brunton, O'Donnell, & Tiwari, 2010).
However, it is dangerous to consume some foods in their raw state. They require sufficient heat to make them fit for human consumption. Meat requires undergoing heating to make it tasty and soft and eating it raw may cause diseases. Heating meat helps in destroying microorganisms thus a necessary preparation before eating. Besides heating, there are other necessary preservation methods and one cannot avoid them.
Washing fruits is advisable before eating them since they may contain germs on their outer layer. This requires thorough washing or even peeling their bark as a method of preparation (Endel and Robert, 2009). However, excessive peeling is not advisable since most nutrients concentrate more on the outer layer than inside the fruit. In respect of this, one only needs to wash the fruit as long as it appears clean and consume it with its outer layer. Other processing methods such as milling are also detrimental to the nutrient quality of grains.
The process removes the outer husk that is rich in fiber. As a result, one gets a product that has low fiber and other minerals and one cannot compare with the whole-grain product (Landl, Abadias, Sá rraga, Viñ as, & Picouet, 2010). Some industries opt to fortify mineral content with artificial nutrients. This is common in bread that usually contains artificial minerals. Note that this is not equal to fiber in its natural form thus; the processing reduces crucial nutrients in wheat products. Processed maize flour also contains low fiber and this makes it low in terms of nutritional value.
Apart from fiber, milling also affects the concentration of zinc, calcium, and iron in grains. These minerals give grains high nutritional value due to their importance in human health (Elleuch, Bedigian, Roiseux, Besbes, Blecker, & Attia, 2011). Many people believe that refrigeration is harmful to the quality of the nutrients of the food. This is not true because the process preserves the raw product as it is. It helps products such as fruits to maintain their nutritional value for a long time.
Refrigeration is one of the popular food preservation methods and has no reducing effect on food nutrients (Endel and Robert, 2009). Nevertheless, this nutritional value is reduced when cooking foods after getting them from the freezer. There are processing methods that have no negative effect on food include flash pasteurization. This process subjects foods such as milk, vegetable, and fruit juices to a high temperature during a short timeframe. This kills all microorganisms present before packaging. The method also preserves the flavor and the original color of the product.
It also prolongs the shelf life of these products thus enabling them to last longer (Garcí a, Gonzá lez, Delgado, Lozano, Herná ndez, & Ramí rez, 2011). This kind of processing is therefore meant for preserving the products with their original nutritional value. The heating kills the bacteria and the product then undergoes a cooling process before packaging in a tightly sealed container. It maintains its original taste and value within the period stated in the container. Unlike pasteurization, canning is another preservation method. This is common in food that has a short shelf life and is not readily available in the market.
By canning vegetables and fruits, one makes them last longer. Some may even last for a lifetime without perishing. Excessive heat is used to dry vegetables and fruit products and then put in cans. While this method is good for preserving these foods, it has a negative effect on their nutrient quality (Block, Grier, Childers, et al, 2011). Vegetables and fruits contain essential nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. These nutrients are vital for both the physical and mental health of an individual.
Canning reduces the concentration of such nutrients thus reducing their value. Conclusion In this era where technology is the key driver of every aspect of the economy, it is impossible to do away with food processing. One cannot food preservation as a whole since most of them are highly perishable while others are scarce in supply. By processing them, one increases shelf-life thus making them available on-demand. Due to this fact, there is no way one can totally avoid the consumption of processed food. While many people believe that processing eliminates nutritional value, it is vital to understand that not all are harmful to nutrient quality.
In fact, other processing methods increase the nutritional value which a significant number of them sustains their value and lifespan as well. It is therefore not right to over-rule the advantages of food processing. It is advisable for people to adopt the consumption of pure organic foods. This may not be possible for the majority since this depends on your locality. Most people cannot only access but also afford to buy organic foods.
In respect of this, one needs to choose what to eat depending on the processing method used in preserving the product. This choice comes along with a compromise since it is a clear fact that one cannot live without processed food. Sometimes one finds it necessary to consume some while avoiding others.
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