Scientists at the Indian Institute of Horticultural Research, Bengaluru have found out that south indian food helps in the body’s absorption of minerals such as iron and zinc. A large number of Indians have trouble absorbing iron and zinc from food.
Researchers have revealed that the high content of phytates (anti-oxidants in cereals, legumes and oilseeds) in Indian foods slows down the absorption of iron and zinc. This causes deficiencies even in people whose diet may contain abundant quantities of these minerals.
People who primarily consume south Indian vegetarian food, dominated by dishes such as idli, dosa and sprouts, can absorb iron and zinc effectively. This is because these have undergone fermentation, soaking, and germination, which reduces phytates, leading to enhanced bioavailability. The problem of phytates could also be overcome by eating fruits like guava and amla, and meat, poultry or fish.
The researchers believe that the methods available for reducing the phytic-acid content of Indian foods should find a prime place in nutritional programmes.