Many of you have probably heard a million times just how important is steady and well-balanced nutrition for our health. Fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, grains, all should be a part of your food pyramid, providing they fit sensible portion sizes. However, sometimes we find it difficult to satisfy all our daily nutritious requirements, especially because the high-quality food is more expensive, thus less available for most people. Still, in its attempt to tackle this problem, technology has gone one step further. Namely, food experts have produced the so-called super foods like eggs with a high dose of omega 3-fatty acids or yogurt with more efficient probiotic cultures. This is by no means irrelevant achievement, especially if we know how eggs, yolk, in particular, is indispensable for our body as a rich protein source while probiotic yogurt has digestive tract benefits. These types of food have become known as ‘value-added food’. But what led to this? First of all, we witness every day to numerous nutritionists and scientists’ endeavors to getting to the root of the problem called obesity. Furthermore, many studies have confirmed that overeating does not only lead to sudden weight gain, but the consummation of these calorie-bombs-foods may also result in malnutrition because these foods usually have poor nutritional values.
Studies have shown that a great majority of people does not consume the optimal amount of nutrients like calcium, iron, riboflavin (vitamin B), vitamin D, selenium and folic acid. In addition to the poor nutritional quality of food, the situation is even worse if this food has been grown in low-quality soil.
However, one cannot help but wonder whether this value-added food is really necessary or it is one of the clever marketing tricks played upon the consumers to increase profit? To answer this question, one should know exactly what ‘value added food’ really means.
Value added method applied in food production depends on the type of food. However, the difference between terms “improved” and “enriched” should be stressed. “Improved” food implies the kind of food to which nutrients are added back during processing, as it is the case with oil enriched with water-soluble vitamins. In this way, we take vitamins in a proper way, the one that our body can easily use. “Enriched” foods are more sophisticated in the sense that nutrients are embedded in the cell membrane, thus becoming their integral part. So, for instance, there are potatoes enriched with selenium, a mineral deficient in many soils. Another example refers to eggs enriched with omega 3- fatty acids obtained from hens fed with flaxseed. This way of food processing ensures better body absorption compared to the foods to which nutrients are added back. Yet, not even science and agriculture technology with these “super foods” can amend all the flaws in our diet.
Furthermore, as in everything, there is a grey zone in the field of enriching food too. Specifically, there are no legal limitations (for now at least) as to how much nutrients can be added to foods, which in turn can bring confusion amid consumers who cannot be sure if such (value-added) foods are actually better for choice for them than other.
Though it’s hard to neglect the importance of these attempts in food production, and what is more, if this article has made you think more about the foods you eat in a way that you’ve increased the intake of fruit and vegetables, then this really is valuable knowledge. Also, who knows, maybe eventually this value-added food become a healthy alternative to countless supplements in the form of a pill.
Translation: G. Dujmović