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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Pullman, Washington » Grain Legume Genetics Physiology Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #292011

Title: Lentils (Lens culinaris L.), a rich source of folates

item SEN GUPTA, DEBJYOTI - North Dakota State University
item THAVARAJAH, DIL - North Dakota State University
item KNUTSON, PHIL - North Dakota State University
item THAVARAJAH, PUSHPARAJAH - North Dakota State University
item McGee, Rebecca
item Coyne, Clarice - Clare
item KUMAR, SHIV - International Center For Agricultural Research In The Dry Areas (ICARDA)

Submitted to: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/18/2013
Publication Date: 7/18/2013
Citation: Sen Gupta, D., Thavarajah, D., Knutson, P., Thavarajah, P., Mcgee, R.J., Coyne, C.J., Kumar, S. 2013. Lentils (Lens culinaris L.), a rich source of folates. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 61:7794-7799.

Interpretive Summary: Folate fortification and supplementation approaches have been attempted, but have had limited effectiveness. Conflicting results regarding the response to excessive intake of folic acid have raised doubts on the potential of folic acid fortification and supplementation to prevent neural tube defects (NTDs) and to increase the folate status at population levels of different countries. Limitations such as the inability of folic acid to prevent (NTDs) and safety concerns of too much folate in vulnerable population groups (e.g., children) demand alternative approaches to supply daily folates. Our current study results show lentils could easily be enriched with bioavailable folates. These findings suggest a sustainable means to provide bioavailable form of folates to people in many parts of the world. The cereal staple crops, maize, wheat, and rice are low in folates, and diets based on these foods often do not reach the daily folate requirements of 400 µg/day. To combat this issue, biofortification (breeding staple food crops for increased micronutrient content) of bioavailable folates in staple crops may potentially be used as a sustainable food-based solution for folate deficiencies in both developed and resource poor countries. Genetic variation for micronutrient concentration has been detected in many staple crops including rice, wheat, maize, sweet potato, cassava and common bean, but limited research is available on folate biofortification in food legumes. Plant breeding tools can improve micronutrient density in staple food crops by genetic selection and modern biotechnology. However, current biofortification research is mainly focused on enriching iron, zinc, and provitamin A in staple food crops. Our initial research efforts on folate biofortification include characterizing the folate concentration of lentil, pea and chickpea varieties grown in two locations and two years in North Dakota and determining the genotype-by-environmental interactions for folate concentration in lentil cultivars.

Technical Abstract: Pulses contain folates in the form of reduced tetrahydrofolate which is the biologically active form absorbed in the jejunum. Genetic biofortification potential of US-grown lentils (Lens culinaris L.) with the bioavailable form of folate has not been widely studied. The objectives of this study were (1) to determine the folate concentration of 10 commercial lentil cultivars grown in Minot and McLean Counties, North Dakota, USA in 2010 and 2011, (2) to determine the genotype x environmental interactions for folate concentration in lentil cultivars, and (3) to compare the folate concentration of other pulses [field peas (Pisum sativum L.) and chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.)] grown in the USA. Mean tetrahydrofolate concentration in lentil cultivars ranged from 216-290 µg/100 g with a mean of 249 µg/100 g. In addition, lentil showed higher folate concentration compared to chickpea (42-125µg/100 g), yellow field peas (41-55µg/100 g), and green field peas (50-202µg/100 g). A 100g serving of lentils could provide 62% of recommended daily allowance of folates for adults. We also found a significant genetic x environment interaction on lentil folate concentration, indicating that possible location sourcing may be required for future biofortification research. Lentils grown in the US are naturally rich in folates and have a great potential for folate biofortification.