Format

Send to

Choose Destination
Med Hypotheses. 2000 Feb;54(2):254-62.

Effects of food processing on the thermodynamic and nutritive value of foods: literature and database survey.

Author information

1
Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, School of Medicine, Wright State University, Dayton, OH, USA.

Abstract

One of the goals of our society is to provide adequate nourishment for the general population of humans. In the strictness sense, the foodstuffs which we ingest are bundles of thermodynamic energy. In our post-industrial society, food producers provide society with the bioenergetic content of foods, while stabilizing the food in a non-perishable form that enables the consumer to access foods that are convenient and nutritious. As our modern society developed, the processing of foodstuffs increased to allow consumers flexibility in their choice in which foods to eat (based on nutritional content and amount of post-harvest processing). The thermodynamic energy content of foodstuffs is well documented in the literature by the use of bomb calorimetry measurements. Here, we determine the effects of processing (in most cases by the application of heat) on the thermodynamic energy content of foods in order to investigate the role of processing in daily nutritional needs. We also examine which processing procedures affect the nutritive quality (vitamin and mineral content) and critically assess the rational, advantages and disadvantages of additives to food. Finally, we discuss the role of endogenous enzymes in foods not only on the nutritive quality of the food but also on the freshness and flavor of the food. Our results show that a significant decrease in thermodynamic energy content occurs in fruits, vegetables, and meat products upon processing that is independent of water content. No significant change in energy content was observed in cereals, sugars, grains, fats and oils, and nuts. The vitamin content of most foods was most dramatically decreased by canning while smaller effects were observed upon blanching and freezing. We found that most food additives had very little effect on thermodynamic energy content due to their presence in minute quantities and that most were added to preserve the foodstuff or supplement its vitamin content. The endogenous food enzymes while aiding in digestibility of some foods (yogurt or grains) also helped some foods have a more palatable taste. Our conclusions are there is some scientific merit to the idea that enzymes in food can act synergistically with those in the human body to facilitate maximum nutritive value of foods.

PMID:
10790761
DOI:
10.1054/mehy.1999.0030
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center