Inside Our Food

Minerals | Where to Find Them and How to Preserve Them

Do you include minerals in your diet? Explore the types of minerals, their importance, functions, and the main food sources of each of them. Moreover, discover how to best preserve minerals when cooking.

How to preserve minerals in food?

The main losses of minerals in food generally come from the way in which food is handled - the majority of mineral loss comes through leaching, that is, the minerals are lost and washed away by water. A better way to preserve the mineral content in food would be to choose fast-cooking methods like stir-frying, or procedures that do not involve immersing the food in water for a long time, such as steaming or microwaving.

Read more about what minerals are and how much to consume

Why are minerals important, and which foods contain them?

The following table shows each mineral’s main function as well as its main food sources:

MineralImportant ForMain food sources
Calcium (Ca)Healthy bones and teethnervous systemmuscle contractionblood clottingimmune system healthMilk and dairy products, dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, turnips, and collard greens, sardines, beans, chickpeas almonds
Phosphorus (P)Healthy bonetooth structurecell structureSunflowers seeds, milk and dairy products, nuts, eggs, salmon, tuna, pork
Sodium (Na)Proper fluid balancenerve transmissionmuscle contractionTable salt, soy sauce; large amounts in processed foods; small amounts in milk, breads, vegetables, and unprocessed meats
Chloride (Cl)Proper fluid balancestomach acidTable salt, soy sauce; large amounts in processed foods; small amounts in milk, meats, breads, and vegetables
Magnesium (Mg)Bonesmuscle contractionnerve transmissionimmune system healthNuts and seeds, legumes, green vegetables; seafood; chocolate
Potassium (K)Nerve transmissionmuscle contractionNuts, legumes, dark chocolate, fish, leafy green, dried apricots, bananas, cantaloupe, kiwi
Sulfur (S)Found in protein moleculesFoods rich in protein: meats, fish, eggs, milk and dairy products
Iron (Fe)Formation of haemoglobin in red blood cellsLiver, red meat, legumes, shellfish (specially clams), almonds, spinach, poultry, dark chocolate
Zinc (Zn)Wound healingfetal developmentgrowthsexual maturationimmune system healthOysters, seeds, nuts, meats, fish (anchovies, sardines), whole grains
Iodine (I)The thyroid hormonesSeafoods (sea fish, shellfish, and seaweed), iodized salt
Fluoride (F)Formation of bones and teethprevention of tooth decayDrinking water (either fluoridated or naturally containing fluoride), fish, and most teas
Copper (Cu)Production of red and white blood cellsinfant growthbrain developmentthe immune systemstrong bonesShellfish, liver, kidney, nuts and wholegrain cereals
Selenium (Se)Protection of the body against oxidative damageBrazil nuts, tuna, oysters, eggs, cheese
Manganese (Mn)Bone formationNuts, mussels, rice, seeds, legumes
Chromium (Cr)Blood sugar levels regulationsUnrefined foods, especially liver, brewer's yeast, whole grains, nuts, cheeses
Molybdenum (Mo)Part of some enzymesLiver, peas, lentils, cocoa, oats, beans

A varied diet is key

It is very important a regular intake of both macro-minerals and trace minerals. Eating a varied diet will help ensure an adequate supply of most minerals for healthy people. 

Do you want to receive information and advice about how to improve your food habits and choices? Check our partners’ website ASSIST: Towards a smarter shopping list.

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