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Macro-and micronutrients from traditional food plants could improve nutrition and reduce non-communicable diseases of islanders on atolls in the South Pacific

Citation

Lyons, G and Dean, G and Tongaiaba, R and Halavatau, S and Nakabuta, K and Lonalona, M and Susumu, G, Macro-and micronutrients from traditional food plants could improve nutrition and reduce non-communicable diseases of islanders on atolls in the South Pacific, Plants, 9, (8) Article 942. ISSN 2223-7747 (2020) [Refereed Article]


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Copyright 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

DOI: doi:10.3390/plants9080942

Abstract

Pacific Islanders have paid dearly for abandoning traditional diets, with diabetes and other non-communicable diseases (NCD) widespread. Starchy root crops like sweet potato, taro, and cassava are difficult to grow on the potassium-deficient soils of atolls, and high energy, low nutrient imported foods and drinks are popular. Nutritious, leafy food plants adapted to alkaline, salty, coral soils could form part of a food system strategy to reduce NCD rates. This project targeted four atolls south of Tarawa, Kiribati, and was later extended to Tuvalu. Mineral levels in diverse, local leafy food plants were compared to reveal genotype-environment interactions. Food plants varied in ability to accumulate minerals in leaves and in tolerance of mineral-deficient soils. Awareness activities which included agriculture, health, and education officers targeted atoll communities. Agriculture staff grew planting material in nurseries and provided it to farmers. Rejuvenation of abandoned giant swamp taro pits to form diversified nutritious food gardens was encouraged. Factsheets promoted the most suitable species from 24 analyzed, with multiple samples of each. These included Cnidoscolus aconitifolius (chaya), Pseuderanthemum whartonianum (ofenga), Polyscias scutellaria (hedge panax), and Portulaca oleracea (purslane). The promoted plants have been shown in other studies to have anti-NCD effects. Inclusion of the findings in school curricula and practical application in the form of demonstration school food gardens, as well as increased uptake by farmers, are needed. Further research is needed on bioavailability of minerals in plants containing phytates and tannins.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Agricultural, Veterinary and Food Sciences
Research Group:Crop and pasture production
Research Field:Agronomy
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the agricultural, food and veterinary sciences
UTAS Author:Dean, G (Mr Geoffrey Dean)
ID Code:151978
Year Published:2020
Web of Science® Times Cited:4
Deposited By:Plant Science
Deposited On:2022-08-09
Last Modified:2022-09-05
Downloads:2 View Download Statistics

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