Idli, dosa help fight min­eral de­fi­ciency

For vege­tar­i­ans, a south In­dian diet en­ables higher ab­sorp­tion of iron, says study

The Hindu - - SOUTH - B.S. Satish Ku­mar

Those with a weak­ness for south In­dian food now have a le­git­i­mate rea­son to gorge them­selves on idlis and dosas: these dishes help 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. While this is mainly due to veg­e­tar­ian food habits, south In­dian vege­tar­i­ans are bet­ter off: their food choices al­low for bet­ter ab­sorp­tion of iron and zinc, says a study pub­lished last month in Cur­rent Science by sci­en­tists of the In­dian In­sti­tute of Hor­ti­cul­tural Re­search.

The ar­ti­cle, au­thored by A. N. Gane­shamurthy, D. Kalaivanan and B. L. Man­ju­nath, says the high con­tent of phy­tates (an­tiox­i­dants 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. “We are mainly a veg­e­tar­ian na­tion and the phy­tate con­tent of veg­e­tar­ian di­ets is high. This may be the main cause for the low ab­sorp­tion of iron and zinc,” says the ar­ti­cle.

Dr. Gane­shamurthy told The Hindu that the ab­sorp­tion ef­fi­ciency of iron and zinc among most In­di­ans eat­ing phy­tate-rich foods was be­low 10%. It should rise to 25% and above.

Fer­men­ta­tion helps

The ar­ti­cle said 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.

Idli, dosa and sprouts help in the ab­sorp­tion of iron and zinc.

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