Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) and chronic diseases are serious problems in the Federated States of Micronesia and other Pacific island countries. Nutrition education programs to address these in Micronesia have had limited success, partly due to lack of information on nutrient content in local foods. The study objective was to identify local plant foods rich in provitamin A and other carotenoids that have high levels of cultural acceptability. Food cultivars likely to be carotenoid-rich (suggested by coloration) were identified using an ethnographic approach including key informant interviews. Raw and cooked samples (mostly cultivars previously not analyzed) of 12 banana, 13 giant swamp taro, 10 breadfruit cultivars and four other local foods were analyzed by high-performance liquid chromatography. Many banana and taro cultivars were found with significant levels of β- and α-carotene; the β-carotene levels ranged from 30 to 2780 μg/100 g (banana) and 50 to 2040 μg/100 g (taro). The results highlight the potential significance of cultivar differences in human nutrition, important for evaluation of the diet, establishment of locally relevant dietary guidelines, and research on the relationship between diet, health, and disease. These highly acceptable food cultivars could play an important role in VAD and chronic disease prevention programs in the Pacific.
Journal of Food Composition and Analysis – Elsevier
Published: Feb 1, 2003
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