Iron deficiency anemia is a prevalent health issue in rural highlands of Latin America, where potatoes are a staple food. In an effort to combat this problem, researchers have developed iron biofortified yellow-fleshed potatoes through conventional breeding. However, the bioavailability of iron from these biofortified potatoes has not been well-studied.
To address this gap in knowledge, Burgos and colleagues conducted a study in the highlands of Peru. They enrolled 28 women in a single-blinded, randomized crossover, multiple-meal intervention study. The participants consumed 10 meals of either a traditional, yellow-fleshed potato or an iron biofortified clone. Each meal was labeled with either biofortified or nonfortified iron isotopes. The researchers then analyzed the iron isotopic composition in the participants’ erythrocytes 14 days after the final meal to estimate iron absorption.
The results showed that the iron-biofortified meals had lower iron content but higher levels of ascorbic acid and chlorogenic acid compared to the non-biofortified meals. Fractional iron absorption was found to be 12.1% from the biofortified clone and 16.6% from the non-biofortified clone. Total iron absorption was also higher with the biofortified potatoes.
Based on these findings, the authors concluded that biofortification could be a promising approach to improving iron intake in individuals with iron deficiency. The increased total iron absorption from the biofortified potatoes suggests that they may help address iron deficiency anemia in regions where potatoes are a staple food.
Further research is needed to explore the long-term effects of consuming biofortified potatoes on iron status and overall health. This study provides valuable insights into the potential benefits of biofortification in combating iron deficiency anemia.
– Burgos G, Liria R, Zeder C, Kroon PA, Hareau G, Penny M, et al. Total iron absorbed from iron-biofortified potatoes is higher than that from nonbiofortified potatoes: A randomized trial using stable iron isotopes in women from the Peruvian highlands. Journal of Nutrition, Volume 153, Issue 6, June 2023, Pages 1710-1717.