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Open Access Underutilized β-carotene–rich crops of Vietnam

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Solutions to micronutrient deficiencies that capitalize upon indigenous resources and foodstuffs offer a long-term mechanism for elevating the health status of disadvantaged people. In populations where intakes of animal foods are inadequate and food sources of retinol are not economically possible, efficient use of carotene-rich plants may prevent vitamin A deficiency. In Vietnam the gac fruit (Momordica cochinchinensis Spreng) is an excellent source of β-carotene (17–35 mg per 100 g of edible portion). This fruit is familiar to indigenous people and is easy to grow. However, it has been underutilized because it is available only three months a year, there have been no efforts to educate the at-risk population about its nutritional benefit, and research efforts in production or preservation techniques have been lacking. This paper describes the fruit, compares its nutritional value with that of familiar carotenoid-rich fruits, details its traditional usage in preparing rice, and discusses the acceptance of this rice preparation (xoi gac) by Vietnamese preschoolers in their daily diet. Financial support for research directed at improving the production and preservation of indigenous β-carotene–rich crops is needed to alleviate the problem of vitamin A deficiency of children in northern Vietnam.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2000

More about this publication?
  • Established in 1978, the Food and Nutrition Bulletin (FNB) is a peer-reviewed journal published quarterly by the Nevin Scrimshaw International Nutrition Foundation.

    The focus of the journal is to highlight original scientific articles on nutrition research, policy analyses, and state-of-the-art summaries relating to multidisciplinary efforts to alleviate the problems of hunger and malnutrition in the developing world.

    Food and Nutrition Bulletin's 2012 Impact Factor: 2.106

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