Kiwifruit can help lift iron absorption: study

Gold kiwifruit can help boost a diner's iron levels, according to new research by Massey University.

The research found that high levels of carotenoids - yellow, orange, and red pigments in plants - and vitamin C in gold kiwifruit could help people absorb iron from their normal diet.

Regular eating of gold kiwifruit with meals which also contained iron could help people better manage their energy and iron levels, Massey researcher Dr Cath Conlon said.

"This is the first study of its type to investigate whether a vitamin C rich food was able to improve iron status in women with low iron stores," she said.

"While this study has been conducted with women who have low iron stores, it is realistic to expect that others who are at risk of iron deficiency would also benefit."

A Zespri spokeswoman said that while the study only investigated the iron-uptake properties in gold kiwifruit - which typically had more vitamin C - "there is every reason to expect a similar response from green kiwifruit".

The research findings published in the British Journal of Nutrition were important because iron deficiency was the main micronutrient deficiency, thought to affect more than 1.6 billion people worldwide, and was the most common cause of anaemia, Dr Conlon said.

Iron deficiency meant less oxygen was delivered to the cells, which could lead to fatigue, tiredness and decreased immunity.

People at highest risk of iron deficiency and anaemia included: preschool children; pregnant, breast feeding and pre-menopausal women; and athletes.

The study was carried out on 89 healthy women aged up to 44, with low iron stores, who were fed an iron-fortified breakfast cereal, milk with either two gold kiwifruit or a banana -known to have low levels of vitamin C - for breakfast every day for 16 weeks.

Iron levels lifted in the blood of the women who ate the kiwifruit, compared with the women who ate the bananas.



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