Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to screen for iron bioavailability and absorption-promoting activity in selected herbs. Evidence is needed to promote and practice food-based strategies such as use of plants or their parts for treating iron deficiency anemia. Design/methodology/approach – Eight Indian herbs, considered to be iron rich and/or hematinic, namely, Boerhavia diffusa , Trachyspermum ammi , Amaranthus paniculatus , Lepidium sativum , Medicago sativa , Asparagus racemosus , Sesamum indicum and Piper longum , were selected. Their mineral composition and phytate and tannin contents were analyzed. Endogenous iron bioavailability was assessed in human enterocyte cell line model, Caco-2 cells, using cellular ferritin induction. Iron absorption-promoting activity was tested similarly in two herbs and their mineral extract by the addition of exogenous iron or ascorbic acid. Findings – Based on compositional analysis, B. diffusa , L. sativum and T. ammi had high iron (> 40 mg/100 g) and tannin/phytate. A. paniculatus , M. sativa , P. longum , S. indicum had low iron (10-15 mg/100 g) with high phytate and tannin. A. racemosus had 38 mg/100 g iron and low phytate and tannin. None of the herbs induced Caco-2 cell ferritin, indicating poor endogenous iron bioavailability. Mineral solutions of, two contrasting herbs (inhibitor content), B. diffusa and A. racemosus induced ferritin with ascorbic acid and not with exogenous iron, suggesting that these are devoid of iron absorption-promoting activity. Practical implications – Incorporation of such herbs in diets may enhance iron content but not its bioavailability. Originality/value – Selected edible herbs have been screened for iron bioavailability and its absorption-promoting activity. This has implications in planning evidence-based strategies to correct iron deficiency in general population.
Nutrition & Food Science – Emerald Publishing
Published: Sep 2, 2014
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