Why does food lose nutritional value after being processed?

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Why does food lose nutritional value after being processed?

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>Why does food lose nutritional value after being processed?

Food generally **gains** nutritional value after being processed. Cooking most anything in a way “predigests” it, so your body can metabolize more of it – accordingly a boiled head of cabbage has more calories than a raw one, a fried burger patty has more calories than raw minced meat. Food being already shredded without the need for mastication also helps with that.

That does not apply to micronutrients and fiber.

Many nutrients are intentionally removed during processing because they have poor flavor or decrease shelf life. A simple example is peeling an apple when there are useful nutrients in the apple peel. Or soaking or boiling anything in water will result in the water absorbing nutrients which are often lost when the water is discarded.

Many other nutrients are destroyed by the processing itself. E.G, Heat, acid, or exposure to air can all easily destroy many nutrients.

You got two very different answers, because “processing” can mean many things. When speaking about the nutritional deficiencies of “highly processed food”, the processing in question is not merely cooking, but refining; removing most of the plant and sometimes even chemically altering the extracted substances.
It is possible to do some of this in a nutritionally sound manner, but it is often overshadowed by other priorities like shelf life, consistency, and ease of processing.

Because processed really just means “we did something to it”, this can be small or large changes I’ll give a few examples.

If you have a cut of beef and run it through a grinder to get ground beef for burgers you still have all the protein and fats but you will lose a very small amount of vitamins due to the exposure to air, the higher surface area to volume ratio means that the chemical reactions to the oxygen in the air are happening much more often than would normally happen.

If you have an orange and cut it into slices you again run into the oxygen in the air problem because you no longer have the skin of the fruit protecting it, and the higher exposed surface area. Plus you have the cuts themselves, with each cut you are letting out some of the liquid which holds vitamins and minerals, so some of the nutrients are left on the cutting board and not in your slices.

If you have wheat berries the first thing for processing is to remove the hull, which is a loss of fiber, then often the germ is removed which decimates the vitamin and mineral content. Then you mill into flour or roll it for oatmeal, but it has no where remotely close to the nutrients it had before the germ was removed.

Anytime you are pasteurizing something you are heating it up to kill germs but that heat also breaks down vitamins.

Pre cooked such as broccoli that is “heat and eat, no cooking required” for example could have been boiled and in that case some of the vitamins and minerals were leached into the water so they’re gone from the broccoli.