How the common bean food chain affects mineral quality

Prof. Tara Grauwet; KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium

In order to prevent and overcome mineral deficiencies, healthy diets with a balanced nutritional profile are key. Common beans and other pulses contain significant amounts of minerals and are increasingly being suggested as important components of healthy diets. However, the mineral quality of a food product is not only determined by its mineral content but also by the bioaccessibility of the minerals. While the total mineral content comprises all minerals present in the food product, the bioaccessible mineral fraction is the amount of minerals that is readily available for absorption in the human body. In this work, magnesium (Mg), calcium (Ca), iron (Fe) and zinc (Zn) within common beans were evaluated as they are reported to be linked to widespread mineral deficiencies.
Before minerals from common beans can be absorbed in the human body, the common bean probably already went through several stages of the food chain. Beans can be stored after harvest and are dehulled and/or soaked and cooked before consumption. When beans are consumed and enter the human body, they are digested. Within the common bean food matrix, nutrients, including minerals, are encapsulated by a cell wall that is indigestible for humans. In addition, common beans contain indigestible compounds which can chelate minerals, i.e. mineral antinutrients.
In this seminar, I will show the effect of the different stages of the common bean food chain on mineral concentrations, antinutrient status and mineral bio-accessibility. Through this insight, one can formulate suggestions on how mineral quality of common beans can be optimized.