The plant-based diet is popular because it is rich in nutrients and offers many health benefits. Also, most plant foods do not contain saturated fats and have a lower calorie density. So, following such an eating pattern reduces the risk of developing diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. Having said that, the nutrients in plant-based food are not equally absorbed, and this increases the risk for developing certain deficiency diseases. The purpose of this primer is to look at methods to increase the bioavailability of plant-based nutrients.
Soaking Nuts, Seeds, Grains, And Legumes
Soaking increases the bioavailability of nutrients present in grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. This helps to remove the antinutrients present in them, makes them more nutritious, and easily digestible. You must know that phytic acid is an antinutrient found in all grains. It binds with minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, and zinc, and makes them unavailable to the body. Furthermore, if you consume unprocessed plant-based food that has high amounts of phytic acid, it can result in digestive issues.
Fermenting And Sprouting
Fermenting and sprouting nuts, grains, and seeds not only removes antinutrients in them but also boosts their nutrient content. This increases the bioavailability of certain nutrients and helps to improve gut health. Above all, these processes can transform some nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes into superfoods because of their higher nutrient content.
Raw And Cooked Foods
Generally, raw foods are considered healthier because nutrients like vitamin C are lost when cooked. However, cooking makes plant-based food healthier because it is easily digested.
Cooking increases the bioavailability of foods like carrots, sweet potato, spinach, zucchini, mushrooms, and cruciferous vegetables. It makes antioxidants like carotenoids and ferulic acid more easily absorbed by the body. Moreover, the process of cooking helps to break down the antinutrients present in vegetables like oxalic acid. You must know that oxalic acid combines with calcium to form oxalates. This makes it difficult for the body to absorb calcium from food.
Include Vitamin C Containing Food To Your Meal
Adding a source of vitamin C into your meal can help with increasing the bioavailability of nutrients like calcium, iron, zinc. For example, you can use lemon juice for salad dressing or include fresh peppers or herbs when eating food rich in minerals like spinach.
These tips can improve the bioavailability of nutrients when following a plant-based diet.