We may define a food to be any substance which will repair the functional waste of the body, increase its growth, or maintain the heat, muscular, and nervous energy.
Mineral Matter or Salts, is left as an ash when food is thoroughly burnt. The most important salts are calcium phosphate, carbonate and fluoride, sodium chloride, potassium phosphate and chloride, and compounds of magnesium, iron and silicon.
The loss on soaking in cold water, unless the water is preserved, is seen to be considerable. The split lentils, having had the protecting skin removed, lose most. In every case the ash contained a good deal of phosphate and lime. Potatoes are rich in important potash salts; by boiling a large quantity is lost, by steaming less and by baking in the skins, scarcely any. The flavour is also much better after baking.