Foods require treatments that prevent their alteration. Indeed, over time, they change biochemically and are no longer fit for consumption. During this process, the nutritional value of food changes. That is why in this article we will explain to you how technological processes influence the nutritional value of food.
Some foods alter faster than others and lose their nutritional value. For example, milk, meat, fish, vegetables and fruits. This is due to the fact that these foods contain more water than dried fruits, for example. The latter can be kept longer.
The food industry applies technological processes for 4 fundamental reasons:
- Eliminate the risk of transmission of diseases related to the presence of microorganisms in raw products.
- Make them pleasant to the palate and facilitate their consumption and digestibility.
- Eliminate certain factors present in raw materials that act as anti-nutritional agents.
- Increase their useful life.
What are the technological processes applied to food and what is their impact on nutritional value?
There are various technological processes that decrease or eliminate the possible growth of microorganisms. They also try to avoid chemical and biochemical reactions that lead to their deterioration.
We explained to you the most common processes used by the food industry and that are also used in our own kitchen.
Refrigeration and Freezing
It is the main treatment to preserve nutritional value. It prevents enzyme activity and the development of bacteria. In addition, nutritional losses are rare or zero because they occur mainly during the packaging, the freezing system or during the defrosting step, in the event of a break in the cold chain.
Therefore, when we defrost a food, it is important to defrost it in the fridge. Indeed, microorganisms spread faster at room temperature.
This method consists in completely or partially extracting water from a food. The effects on nutritional value are:
- Loss of certain vitamins due to high temperatures.
- Protein Denaturation.
- Modification of organoleptic properties.
Pasteurization applies mainly to dairy products and plants. It is essential to avoid raw dairy products as they may contain pathogenic organisms even if they lose some vitamins.
This is the most effective method by heat. It effectively eliminates pathogenic, vegetative organisms and spores. However, it negatively affects many nutrients. Especially the vitamins that are lost with heat, and the biological value of proteins, by the reaction of Maillard.
All vegetables, except onions, must be blanched with water or steam before freezing. This helps to reduce the microbial load and inactivate enzymes that can cause the development of abnormal flavors during storage.
Bleaching of food is carried out in water at 90-100°C, or using steam at 120-130°C for 2-10 minutes. This process tends to remove vitamins and minerals. Frozen vegetables therefore contain less vitamins and minerals than raw ones.
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This is one of the most common methods of cooking. Food is dipped in water at a temperature of about 100°C. During this process, a significant part of the vitamins and minerals pass into the cooking water. So, it is advisable to also use the cooking broth.
Cooking has benefits on nutritional value, because:
- There are foods that increase the bio-availability of nutrients, such as legumes, potatoes and eggs.
- This process improves the bio-availability of proteins and complex carbohydrates.
- It improves the organoleptic characteristics of food.
This is a process through which food is fried in oil at high temperature in a short time. The effects on nutritional value are:
- Loss of Protein Nutritional Value.
- Appearance of toxic components by oxidation of fats.
- Thermal Destruction of vitamins.
- Increase in the energy value of the food.
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Microwaves emit low-energy electromagnetic radiation that they cannot ionize. Therefore, they practically do not generate free radicals. In addition, they do not result in compounds that alter organoleptic characteristics or that can be considered toxic.
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Baking in The Oven
Baking in the oven subjects the food to a uniform and constant heat. This makes it possible to obtain different baking and textures. It also influences nutritional value in the following ways:
- Loss of proteins by the reaction of Maillard and vitamins by heat.
- Increased digestibility of proteins.
- Loss of anti-nutrients.
- Increased bio-availability of B vitamins.
Similar to baking in the oven, the goal is also to get crisp textures. This results in nutrient losses related to proteins and vitamins, especially thiamine.
Thanks to technological processes, we can keep food longer and avoid microbial diseases. Finally, if you follow a healthy and varied diet, you do not have to worry about the loss of nutrients caused by these different methods.