Legume seeds contain a broad mix of minerals, many of which are essential both for plants and for animals. In fact, almost all essential minerals for humans can be found stored in the seeds. In comparison to cereals, legumes tend to have higher concentrations of calcium and potassium, as well as the micronutrients iron, zinc, and copper. Most of the calcium is sequestered as calcium oxalate crystals, however, and this form of calcium has extremely low bioavailability. Also, the majority of phosphorus in legume seeds is stored as phytic acid, which can complex calcium, iron, and zinc and thereby diminish their bioavailability. Other compounds found in legume seeds, including tannins, phenols, organic acids, protein, and fiber, can also interact with minerals and lower their bioa-vailability. Fortunately, certain processing procedures, such as fermenting or sprouting seeds, can reduce the levels of some of these mineral chelators. Due to these various problems, there is a significant effort under way in the plant science community to increase the absolute mineral levels in various legume seeds as well as to lower the levels of several major inhibitory compounds.
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