Food Values

Food Values -

- the Foods we eat, their Characters, Comparative Values and Digestibility. There is much yet to be learned concerning the comparative effects of food taken into the human system and the processes by which they are converted into flesh, blood, bone, nerves and brain, but the advance of knowledge in these matters has been very rapid during the last few decades and sufficient has been ascertained to give the average individual a very fair idea of the needs and the requirements of the "machinery" which enables him to live and of the composition of the machinery itself.

Many and complicated are the natural chemical processes by which food is transformed in the human stomach, intestines, veins, etc., but a general consideration of the subject is simplified by the fact that the beginning and the end - i.e., the food put into the stomach and the body built and sustained by the food - are composed chiefly of the same chemical compounds. In other words, the human body is composed of WATER, protein (a term which includes the principal nitrogenous compounds), fats, mineral matter (phosphate of lime - the mineral basis of bone - and numerous compounds of potassium, sodium, iron, magnesium, etc.), and carbohydrates (starches, sugars, etc.). And all these components are found in varying proportions in the foods we eat, though in the human body the carbohydrates become principally fats, only a very small percentage being reproduced as SUGAR, etc.

WATER constitutes about 60% of the entire weight of the average person, protein forms about 18%, fats about 15%, minerals about 6% and carbohydrates a little less than 1%.

After the large amount of WATER and the small amount of minerals, both of which are absolutely essential to life, the proteins are the constituents of the first importance for they are the chemicals which chiefly build the flesh, bone and muscle of the body. The principal protein compounds may be divided into albuminoids and gelatinoids (classed together as "proteids") and extractives. Of these, the albuminoids are the chief and the real body builders and the extractives are the least important except that they provide the flavor of meats, etc., and thus stimulate appetite and digestion.

protein is found in all human foods - but in greatly varying proportions. In this country, any lack in other foods is made up, and very often over-done in that respect, by the excess of protein in meats - lean meat consists almost entirely of protein and WATER - and by the consumption of EGGS, FISH, etc. In Asia, the insufficiency of protein in the Rice diet is supplied in some parts by the use of beans and peas (dried beans being even richer in protein than meats, in addition to their great percentage of carbohydrates) or by the consumption of fresh or salted FISH; or by both beans and FISH. And similarly, in one way or another, as the result either of instinct or experience, has the balance been maintained with at least some degree of accuracy in every part of the world.

We have said that the protein practically builds the machinery of the human body - but a machine needs fuel to operate - and, similarly, the human body requires the necessary chemicals to produce heat and energy. These it obtains to some degree from the protein but principally from two other forms of food - fat and carbohydrates. Fat is the most condensed form of fuel but the average digestion does not take kindly to it in over-large quantities so the greater part of the supply is in carbohydrates - practically "SUGAR" for the starches are converted into a form of SUGAR in the stomach and intestines, as a preliminary to their assimilation by the body.

Be it understood that the term "fuel" is not used as a mere figure of speech - it represents the actual uses of the food, for fats and sugars are consumed in the body by chemical processes which are allied in general character to the consumption of coal in the fire which drives an engine. The sums of heat and energy engendered in the digestion, etc., of different foods have been carefully ascertained and recorded and are credited as many "calories' or fuel units to a pound of each kind of food. Butter, for example, being 85% fat, is a fine type of human fuel and is credited with 3,410 calories per lb. SUGAR, 100% carbohydrate, contains 1,750. BEEF varies from only 500 to 1,400 - the principal value of BEEF being as already noted for its protein, or as a flesh and muscle builder, instead of for "fuel" purposes.

The principal forms of fat for food are those in meats of all kinds, Butter, Cheese, a few fruits (as olives) and several kinds of NUTS.

The principal sources of carbohydrates are CEREALS of all kinds (Wheat and rye Flour in the form of BREAD and otherwise, corn, Rice, oatmeal, tapioca, etc.), dried beans and peas, a few kinds of NUTS, several varieties of dried fruits, potatoes, etc., and in a lesser degree some fresh fruits, as Apples and Bananas.

SUGAR is 100% carbohydrate - but the system can only take it in moderate quantities, not being fitted for the exclusive use of full carbohydrates any more than for the use of large quantities of fat - it prefers both mixed with other components as in sweet, starchy or fatty foods, or to produce them itself by conversion.

The excess of fat and carbohydrates after supplying the immediate necessities of heat and energy, is stored in the body in the form of fat, which, except when excessive in amount, stands as a very real reserve store of energy when at any time the body requires more fuel than it can draw from the immediate supply of food. A person who for any reason does an unusually excessive amount of physical labor may lose several pounds in weight in a few hours - the energy and heat developed and utilized are necessarily drawn from the reserve force of the body as the food supply for the same period could not furnish so large an amount under such conditions of activity.

A well-regulated diet for an average person of normal digestion must, therefore, contain a variety of foods sufficient to supply the system with an abundance of WATER (as a beverage or in food), a sufficient amount of protein to repair the waste of tissue and "energy foods" (fats and carbohydrates) in accordance with his manner of life - the more the labor required from the body, the greater should be the supply. Still further, the greater the proportion of hard physical labor in outdoor occupations, the greater, generally, the proportion of the "condensed fuel" - fats and sugars - that may be advantageously used.

A diet principally of lean meat would supply too great a proportion of protein - one of fruits and vegetables, except dried peas and beans, Peanuts, etc., would supply too little. BREAD and good rich Milk would make quite a satisfactory all-round diet - giving WATER, protein, fat and carbohydrates in very fair proportions and in easily digestible form, but, fortunately, we need not confine ourselves to such a very monotonous bill of fare! We can reach just as satisfactory a percentage by a judicious mingling of a variety of other foods with all kinds of delightful properties.

It will be understood that all statements concerning human diet necessarily deal in averages - every individual must regulate the details of his diet to agree with the results of his own experience. Furthermore, all percentages of food components essential or desirable are subject to variation in different climates and countries and none is absolutely binding in the operation of the human machine - which is wonderfully adaptable in meeting exigencies. Lean meat, for example, contains very little fat and no carbohydrates, but the human body, when necessary, will obtain all its fats and carbohydrates by chemical transformation of the protein and a man might live for a long time on lean meat alone. But it would not be a safe or desirable diet!

The tables following give the average percentages of a number of general food items, after discarding general waste, as skin, bone, etc. The body receives a large proportion of the values recorded in the cases of persons of good digestive organs, if the foods are properly prepared - which in most cases means properly cooked.

The importance of good cooking cannot be over-estimated - incompetent preparation often means the loss of much of the value of the foods eaten. The valuable carbohydrates, for example, are chiefly very small STARCH grains enclosed in tiny cells with thick walls on which the digestive juices have little effect unless the walls have been broken by cooking - and this is only one of a great many examples that might be cited.

The purposes of cooking are threefold - (1) to assist digestion by preparing the food for the action of the digestive juices; (2) to quicken the flow of the saliva and digestive juices by making the food pleasing to the palate and other senses, and (3) to destroy by heat any disease germs or parasites that it may contain.

WATER protein FAT CARBOHYDRATES (STARCH, SUGAR, ETC.) "ASH" (MINERAL, SALTS, ETC.) BEEF (fresh) Chuck (rib) 67 19 13 .... 1 Loin (medium) 61 19 19 .... 1 Ribs 57 18 24 .... 1- Round (medium) 68 21 10 .... 1+ Shoulder and clod 69 20 10 .... 1+ Liver (BEEF) 72 20 5 1 1/2 1 1/2 CORNED BEEF 54 15 26 .... 5 VEAL Breast 68 20 11 .... 1 Leg Cutlets 71 20 8+ .... 1+ Liver (calf) 75 17 6+ .... 1+ MUTTON Leg 63 19+ 17+ .... 1 Loin (without kidney or tallow) 48 15 36 .... 1- LAMB Loin 53 18 28 .... 1 Leg 59 18 22 .... 1 PORK, salted and smoked Bacon 20 10 65 .... 5 Ham 40 16 39 .... 5 Salted Fat PORK 8 2 36 .... 4 PORK (fresh) Loin (chops) 51 16 32 .... 1- Hams (fresh) 50 16 33 .... 1- POULTRY Fowl (medium age) 60 20 19 .... 1+ Turkey 58 22 19 .... 1+

WATER protein FAT CARBOHYDRATES (STARCH, SUGAR, ETC.) "ASH" (MINERAL SALTS, ETC.) *FISH (fresh) Cod (dressed) 83 15 1/2 1/2 .... 1- Mackerel 74 18 7 .... 1- *FISH (preservedand canned) Canned Salmon 64 22 12 .... 2 Salt Cod 58 21 1/2 .... 20 1/2 SHELLFISH Oysters 88 1/2 6 1+ 3 1/2 1- Lobster 79 1/2 16 2- 1/2- 2 EGGS (uncooked) 74 13 12 .... 1- DAIRY PRODUCTS Whole Milk 87 3+ 4 5 1/2 Skim Milk 90+ 3 1/2 1/2- 5+ 1/2 Cream 74 1/2 2 1/2 18 4 1/2 1/2 Butter 11 1 85 .... 3 Cheese (Cheddar type) 27 1/2 27 1/2 37 4 4 Flour, CEREALS, Etc. Wheat Flour 12 11 1/2 1 75 1/2 Rye Flour 13 7 1- 78 1- Rice (ordinary or "polished") 12 8 1/2 79 1/2 Oat Breakfast food 8 16 1/2 7 66 1/2 2 Wheat Breakfast food 10 12 1 1/2 75 1 1/2 Cornmeal 14 9 2 74 1 Macaroni 10 1/2 13 1/2 1- 74 1 BREAD (White Wheat) 35 1/2 9 1 1/2 53 1 vegetables Beans, white (dried) 12 1/2 22 1/2 2- 59 1/2 3 1/2 Beets (fresh) 88 1 1/2 .... 9 1/2 1- Cabbage 91 2 .... 6 1 Potatoes 79 1/2 1 1/2+ .... 18 1- Squash 90 1- 1/2 8 1/2+ Sweet Potatoes 71 1 1/2 1/2 26 1- Tomatoes 94 1/2 1- 1/2 3 1/2 1/2 FRUITS Apples (fresh) 85+ 1/2 1/2 13 1/2 Apples (evaporated) 27 2- 2+ 67 2 Bananas 77 1 1/2 20 1/2 1- Dates (dried) 15+ 2+ 3- 78 1/2 1 1/2- Figs (dried) 19- 4+ 1/2 74 9 1/2 Grapes 79 1 1/2 1 1/2 17 1/2 1/2 Oranges 87 1/2 1- .... 11 1/2 Prunes 22+ 2 .... 73 1/2 2 1/2 Strawberries 91 1/2 1- 1/2 6 1/2 1/2 ‡‡NUTS Pecans 3 1/2 12+ 70 1/2 12+ 1 1/2 Peanuts 7 1/2 30 43 1/2 17 2 Walnuts 3 1/2 18+ 60 1/2 16 1 1/2

*See also article on FISH.

†See also article on SHELLFISH.

‡See also article on FRUITS (FOOD VALUES).

††See also article on NUTS.

In order to avoid incorrect deductions from a study of the tables given, we may add that, though the chief purposes of food are to build the body and supply it with the necessary warmth and energy, and that therefore the principal foods may be judged by their percentage of protein, fat and carbohydrates, etc., the limitations of the human digestive organs must always be borne in mind. Cheese, for example, is rich in both protein and fat, and the peanut in protein, fats and carbohydrates - either should apparently be most valuable as a leading article of diet, but the average digestion will accept and assimilate them only in small quantities.

On the other hand, many vegetables which show but very small percentages of food value are of vital importance because of the salts they contain and because their special composition assists in the digestion of the main foods. Many fruits have this useful quality in addition to high food value.

The average American diet is not so far from being correct as many critics declare and it could be made an excellent standard by decreasing the amount of meat generally consumed and increasing the proportion of green vegetables and fruits. An excessive consumption of meat means an over-supply of protein which doubles the work - and therefore the risks - of nature to dispose of it or to convert it into carbohydrates, in the latter case endangering the balance of health by giving the system too great a supply of fuel - for, as already noted, there is an ample supply of carbohydrates in all popular diets, the only lack in other than American being in the supply of diminutive size.

Arround Food Values in The Grocer's Encyclopedia


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