Send to

Choose Destination
Matern Child Nutr. 2013 Jan;9 Suppl 1:47-71. doi: 10.1111/j.1740-8709.2012.00449.x.

Screening for anti-nutritional compounds in complementary foods and food aid products for infants and young children.

Author information

Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports, Section of Paediatric and International Nutrition, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark.


A range of compounds with negative nutritional impact - 'anti-nutrients' - are found in most plant foods. The contents of anti-nutrients in processed foods depend on the ingredients and processing. Anti-nutrients in complementary foods for children can have a negative impact on nutritional status. The aim of this study was to screen complementary foods from developing countries for the anti-nutritional compounds, phytate, polyphenols, inhibitors of trypsin and chymotrypsin, and lectins. Commercial products based on whole grain cereals were included as a 'worst-case' scenario for anti-nutrient exposure in Europe. Contents of minerals (iron, zinc and calcium), in which absorption or utilisation is affected by anti-nutrients, were analysed. Thirty-six products representing foods used in food aid programmes, local blended foods, fortified instant porridges and 'baby foods' were analysed. The content of minerals indicated that the fortification of a number of products did not meet the declared levels of iron, zinc and calcium. The phytate content ranged from 68 to 1536 mg/100 g, confirming a persistent problem of high levels of phytate in processed cereal- and legume-based products. The phytate : Fe molar ratio exceeded the recommended level of <1.0 in 32 of the 36 products. The total polyphenols varied from 1.3 to 9.3 mg gentisic acid equivalents g(-1) . Screening low-molecular weight soluble polyphenols may be more relevant in complementary foods than total polyphenolic compounds. Trypsin and chymotrypsin inhibitors and lectins were found in residual amounts in most products, indicating efficient degradation by heat processing. However, young infants and malnourished children may have reduced pancreatic function, and upper limits for residual trypsin inhibitors are needed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center