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Gac fruit (Momordica cochinchinensis Spreng) is indigenous to Vietnam and other countries in Southeast Asia. Its seed pulp contains high concentrations of carotenoids, especially the provitamin A, β-carotene. In northern Vietnam, gac fruits are seasonal and are mainly used
in making a rice dish called xoi gac. The purpose of this study was to develop a method to collect and preserve gac fruit oil, to evaluate the nutritional composition of the oil, and to assess the acceptability of the gac oil by typical Vietnamese homemakers. One hundred women participated
in training to learn how to prepare the fruits and operate the oil press. The women also participated in a survey of gac fruit use and their habitual use of animal fat and vegetable oil. Among all the participants in the training and surveys, 35 women actually produced oil from gac fruits
grown in the village, using manual oil presses and locally available materials. The total carotene concentration in gac fruit oil was 5,700 μg/ml. The concentration of β-carotene was 2,710 μg/ml. Sixty-nine percent of total fat was unsaturated, and 35% of that was polyunsaturated.
The average daily consumption of gac fruit oil was estimated at 2 ml per person. The daily β-carotene intake (from gac fruit oil) averaged approximately 5 mg per person. It was found that gac oil can be produced locally by village women using manual presses and locally available materials.
The oil is a rich source of β-carotene, vitamin E, and essential fatty acids. Although the β-carotene concentration declines with time without a preservative or proper storage, it was still high after three months. The oil was readily accepted by the women and their children, and
consumption of the oil increased the intake of β-carotene and reduced the intake of lard.
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