Reduce Scurvy Risk through Germination!

Summary of published paper

Germination 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.

Reference

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

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Reduce Scurvy Risk through Germination!. Field Exchange 5, October 1998. p8. www.ennonline.net/fex/5/reduce