Reduce Scurvy Risk through Germination!
Summary of published paper
of pulses, i.e. allowing them to sprout, substantially increases
their vitamin C content. Knowledge of this fact has led to suggestions
that beans given out in emergency general rations should be allowed to
germinate as a strategy to combat risk of scurvy. A recent study set out
to evaluate the extent to which germinating pulses and legumes were a potential
source of vitamin C for refugee communities with poor vitamin C status.
The researchers tested a
large variety of legumes which were allowed to germinate over a 5 day period.
Vitamin C content was compared with a control group of legumes which had
been soaked overnight and then tested for vitamin C content.
The study confirmed that
the vitamin C content of pulses increased greatly on germination and reached
levels that would meet vitamin C requirements even when other constituents
of refugee rations were grossly inadequate in this micronutrient. With
most strains the recommended nutrient intake was achievable by eating less
than 40 gms of germinated bean each day. General rations usually
provide between 40-60 gms of bean per day. The researchers estimated that
roughly half of the pulse seeds in many basic rations if germinated for
between 3-5 days, would probably generate enough vitamin C to prevent scurvy.
The authors also point out that the nutritional value of beans would often
be improved in other ways through this process. For example, phytic acid,
which is a potent inhibitor of zinc and iron absorption from legumes
and cereals, would be destroyed. Emergency rations are often marginally
deficient in both zinc and iron.
Riddoch. C, Mills. C
and Duthie. G (1998): An Evaluation of Germination of Pulses on the Vitamin
C content of Refugees Foods: European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, January
1998, Vol. 1, pp113-118
Taken from Field Exchange Issue 5, October 1998