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Praveen M
(prav66) - MLife

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
Dehydrating food reduces it's nutrition? on 09/13/2011 19:20:44 MDT Print View

Hi all,

Just getting into doing dehydration to prepare my own meals and while skimming 'Trail Life' by Ray Jardine noticed he states that dehydrating food kills a good percentage of nutrients and is recommended only for liquidy things like pasta sauce.

I don't always agree with RJ, but wanted to see what current research or backpacking folks' anecdotal expereince was with this. Is it really worth cooking quinoa from scratch rather than dehydrating it? Are dehydrated fruits/vegetables much less preferable than the fresh ones?

Most of my hikes are only a few days so I don't strictly need to dehydrate everything, just wondering if there is a serious nutritional hit when bothering to doing so.

Thanks,
PM

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife

Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
Re: Dehydrating food reduces it's nutrition? on 09/13/2011 19:41:43 MDT Print View

It's old research, but my mother had our backpacking/horsepacking diet analyzed by the University of Wyoming back in the late 1950's. The only nutrient they found in short supply was Vitamin C, which is destroyed by dehydration and the then brand new process of freeze-drying.

I haven't seen any research since that tells me anything to the contrary. For more recent findings and a lot more detail, check out this article on Thru-Hiker.com by a PhD in nutrition who is also a long-distance hiker:
http://thru-hiker.com/articles/pack_light_eat_right.php

Tim Zen
(asdzxc57) - F

Locale: MI
Re: Dehydrating food reduces it's nutrition? on 09/13/2011 19:45:06 MDT Print View

The only nutrient I have read about being significantly reduced is vitamin C, but that is easily replaced.

Stephen B Elder Jr
(selder) - M

Locale: Front range CO
Re: Dehydrating food reduces it's nutrition? on 09/13/2011 20:28:24 MDT Print View

"noticed he states that dehydrating food kills a good percentage of nutrients and is recommended only for liquidy things like pasta sauce.

I don't always agree with RJ"...

In a sense you've answered your own question...if you've read Trail Life you know that Ray's views on nutrition are worth the price of the book...people get PAID for writing things WAY less funny, it's just unfortunate that it doesn't come with a disclaimer like "This is just a joke. DO NOT base your nutritional choices on the tin foil hat lunacy herein." Just eat some corn pasta and be happy :) .

That said, common sense tells us that "fragile" compounds will be present in lower abundance after dehydrating, but so what? If a fruit is less nutritious after being dehydrated but is edible long after the fresh fruit would have rotted, the dehydrated fruit is clearly more nutritious than the rotten one, and a food item which you can carry because it is dry and light is more nutritious than the same item if you left it at home...

Brian Austin
(footeab) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Dehydrating food reduces it's nutrition? on 09/13/2011 21:19:52 MDT Print View

I may be wrong here, but I believe that Carrots, beans, spinach etc, lose about 25% of their Vitamin C after about a week from the time they are plucked. They lose another 50% or more when cooked. What they mean by "cooked" I don't remember.

In short I really wouldn't be worried about it.

Nutrient value will be more determined by how long since it was dried and used than anything else from the little I know on the subject.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Dehydrating food reduces it's nutrition? on 09/13/2011 22:20:37 MDT Print View

Mmmmmm...corn pasta.

Ewwwwwwwwww. Ya know, that is an experience that never goes away once tasted ;-)

As for the dehydrating? Don't worry! Just eat a rounded diet and you will do just fine. Just remmeber that if you cook a food in liquid and dry it with that liquid you preserve everything - so if you cook quinoa at home and dry it, then rehydrate it, you haven't lost anything!

The fact is that dehydrating your food allows you to take a wide range of foods that you cannot take in fresh (weight, spoilage, etc). Live a little and don't worry - or just pop a vitamin daily.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife

Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
Sarah is right! on 09/13/2011 23:42:31 MDT Print View

Cooking food in liquid and throwing away the liquid is responsible for more malnutrition than any other single technique!

Laurie Ann March
(Laurie_Ann) - F

Locale: Ontario, Canada
nutrient loss on 09/14/2011 08:53:07 MDT Print View

there is Vitamin A and C loss when a food is "cooked" at temperatures over 104°F.... other than that most of the nutrients remain in the food. However, the loss is far less significant than the loss that would be experienced by boiling a vegetable.

Katharina ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
@Laurie on 09/14/2011 09:00:17 MDT Print View

Are all nutrients retained if you use the liquid you boil a vegetable in, or is there a loss due to heat? You mentioned vitamins A and C; are they lost even if you consume the liquid?
Thanks.

Laurie Ann March
(Laurie_Ann) - F

Locale: Ontario, Canada
loss on 09/14/2011 09:07:58 MDT Print View

There is some loss with the heat but you retain a good deal of what is lost with water soluble nutrients if you consume the water too. That's why I make a lot of chili and stew like things for eating at home and on our trips. What you are losing in the dehydration process is somewhat nominal in comparison because at that point you have already cooked the food. Of course, there are exceptions, such as drying uncooked things like citrus fruits. Keep in mind that it is only a portion of the Vitamin A and C that is lost, and not all of it.

Raw foodies really have their heads wrapped around this type of thing.

Katharina ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
thanks on 09/14/2011 09:13:46 MDT Print View

Thanks for sharing your knowledge on this and other food/ nutrition topics.
I try and use the liquid, because I steam a lot of vegetables, but if I don't, I use it to water my plants and they seem pretty happy :)

Laurie Ann March
(Laurie_Ann) - F

Locale: Ontario, Canada
plants on 09/14/2011 09:35:19 MDT Print View

Thanks. We steam a lot too... I never thought of using the water for my plants. What a brilliant idea. I'm going to try that this evening. I have a beloved plant (peace lily) that I call "Wilting Walter" because it always tells me when it needs a drink (and it is one of the few plants I've managed to keep alive because of that).

Brian UL
(MAYNARD76)

Locale: New England
Re: Re: Dehydrating food reduces it's nutrition? on 09/14/2011 11:59:40 MDT Print View

The water in which veggies and or meats,especially bones is full of nutrition. It is called broth and should be eaten.
Water from soaked grains should be discarded. It is full of anti-nutrients that is the grains natural protection from being eaten by bugs. Traditionally all grains are soaked for this reason. Only in the industrialized fast food nation we have now is this time consuming step been skipped to save money.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Dehydrating food reduces it's nutrition? on 09/14/2011 12:08:04 MDT Print View

Outside of rinsing grains and then cooking them, the whole soaking thing is up to the user. I personally don't like soaked grains nor do I like them sprouted. Not my bag.

The reason behind rinsing grains and legumes is to remove dust and dirt - since they are natural products. Rice, oats, barley and similar do not need to be drained after cooking if cooked with proper water to dry food ratio. Beans are usually drained though and their cooking water isn't exactly tasty....

Katharina ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Broth???? on 09/14/2011 12:22:00 MDT Print View

"The water in which veggies and or meats,especially bones is full of nutrition. It is called broth and should be eaten. "
wow. Who would have thought! ; )

Brian UL
(MAYNARD76)

Locale: New England
Re: Re: Dehydrating food reduces it's nutrition? on 09/14/2011 13:05:43 MDT Print View

"The reason behind rinsing grains and legumes is to remove dust and dirt"

That may be a second reason but the real reason is to remove phytic acid.
Phtic acid blocks mineral absorption and so will block your bodys ability to get at some nutrients. It also helps remove the natural toxic protective layer on grains.
All over the world traditionally people soaked and even fermented grains too make them more edible.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Dehydrating food reduces it's nutrition? on 09/14/2011 13:17:02 MDT Print View

In most cases in the US and other similar countries the grains are polished to remove coatings - think quinoa as a major example. It is easy to mechanically remove things that primitive growers cannot remove.

Fermenting has its followers but there are also plenty of nay-sayers against it!

Laurie Ann March
(Laurie_Ann) - F

Locale: Ontario, Canada
Re: Re: Re: Dehydrating food reduces it's nutrition? on 09/14/2011 15:00:19 MDT Print View

Interesting about the phytic acid... that was something I did not know.

Quinoa is also rinsed to removed the saponin which is the plant's natural defense against things like parrots. I sometimes soak lentils rather than cooking them for things such as my Indian Carrot Salad which has moong dal (little yellow lentils). It softens the lentils enough for the salad but they don't turn to mush.

I don't mind sprouted seeds and grains... it's something we do quite often both in and out of the wilderness as it ensures that there is added nutrients to our meal plan.