Children in Brazil have often been found to be deficient in iron (Fe) and zinc (Zn) minerals. In fact, a high percentage of the population of Brazil is Fe deficient. Fe and Zn deficiencies can lead to anemia, growth retardation, and neurologic deficiencies. Because these minerals are important, the present study evaluates the amounts of these minerals in beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) and bean broth after cooking.
Beans are standard foods for low income people in developing countries. Six common beans were studied. They were studied raw, pot cooked, pressure cooked, with and without prior water soaking overnight. Each test was done three times. Beans commonly contain 18.8-82.4 mg Fe/kg and 32.6-70.2 mg Zn/kg.
Brazilians commonly eat red beans (carioca beans) and small black beans. Adults tend to eat the beans and broth, and may drink the broth as an appetizer. Young children, who require adequate Fe and Zn, commonly are only given broth without beans.
Results showed that soaking made no difference in Zn content. Pressure cooking and soaking reduced the Fe content in the beans, but increased the Fe content in the broth. Phytic acid* levels are reduced by soaking, fermentation and heat, increasing the bioavailability of Fe and Zn. Black beans commonly have high levels of Zn and Fe.
CONCLUSION: Common beans are an excellent food for zinc and iron if they are soaked in water overnight. The beans are best consumed with the broth to get maximum iron content. It can help fight anemia in low income populations of the underdeveloped and developing countries of the world.
NOTES: *Phytic acid in from food plants blocks the utilization of minerals in humans. Phytic acid is the way that plants store phosphorus. It can be digested by ruminants, however, it cannot be digested by non-ruminants, such as humans. It binds minerals such as Zn and Fe so they are not available for absorption in the intestine. Phytic acid can be significantly reduced in plants by soaking in acidic water, fermentation, sprouting, and cooking. These processes can reduce Fe and Zn deficiencies in humans.
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