Changes in Mineral Composition of Food Induced by Industrialization and Urbanization

The process of industrialization and urbanization has affected the nutritional value of many of the more traditional foods as illustrated for Mexico in Table 4. Although home cooked corn (maize) tortillas, together with beans, formed the staple traditional diet, tortillas are now being produced differently: both industrially and by individuals at small market stalls in the cities.

The concentrations of the major nutrients sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus in unprocessed foods vary within narrow limits, but in processed or cooked foods, where salt (NaCl) or additions of other sodium-containing ingredients are common, the concentration range of sodium is higher. A large proportion of processed food has salt added; as more processed foods are eaten, the saltier the diet becomes. Table 4 shows that the corn in its original form contains a very small concentration of sodium but is rich in potassium. Once the grain is milled, fractionated, and processed to produce tortillas, then the nutrient composition alters. Potassium is also lost during the initial washing procedure. Limestone is added to release the niacin from its bound form; this also induces a threefold increase in calcium content. Salt is not commonly added during tortilla preparation in the country, but a remarkable 70- to 200-fold increase is found in breakfast cereals and processed corn snacks as well as substantial potassium losses. Almost no calcium is found in modern breakfast cereals whereas traditionally prepared tortillas have almost 60 times more calcium.

Table 4 Effects of industrialization on the composition of Mexican foods

Food Mineral content (mgper 100 g fresh weight)

Table 4 Effects of industrialization on the composition of Mexican foods

Food Mineral content (mgper 100 g fresh weight)

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