In Rwandese Women with Low Iron Status, Iron Absorption from Low-Phytic Acid Beans and Biofortified Beans Is Comparable, but Low-Phytic Acid Beans Cause Adverse Gastrointestinal Symptoms1,2

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Abstract

Background:

Phytic acid (PA) is a major inhibitor of iron bioavailability from beans, and high PA concentrations might limit the positive effect of biofortified beans (BBs) on iron status. Low-phytic acid (lpa) bean varieties could increase iron bioavailability.

Objective:

We set out to test whether lpa beans provide more bioavailable iron than a BB variety when served as part of a composite meal in a bean-consuming population with low iron status.

Methods:

Dietary iron absorption from lpa, iron-biofortified, and control beans (CBs) (regular iron and PA concentrations) was compared in 25 nonpregnant young women with low iron status with the use of a multiple-meal crossover design. Iron absorption was measured with stable iron isotopes.

Results:

PA concentration in lpa beans was ˜10% of BBs and CBs, and iron concentration in BBs was ˜2- and 1.5-fold compared with CBs and lpa beans, respectively. Fractional iron absorption from lpa beans [8.6% (95% CI: 4.8%, 15.5%)], BBs [7.3% (95% CI: 4.0%, 13.4%)], and CBs [8.0% (95% CI: 4.4%, 14.6%)] did not significantly differ. The total amount of iron absorbed from lpa beans and BBs was 421 μg (95% CI: 234, 756 μg) and 431 μg (95% CI: 237, 786 μg), respectively, and did not significantly differ, but was >50% higher (P < 0.005) than from CBs (278 μg; 95% CI: 150, 499 μg). In our trial, the lpa beans were hard to cook, and their consumption caused transient adverse digestive side effects in ˜95% of participants. Gel electrophoresis analysis showed phytohemagglutinin L (PHA-L) residues in cooked lpa beans.

Conclusion:

BBs and lpa beans provided more bioavailable iron than control beans and could reduce dietary iron deficiency. Digestive side effects of lpa beans were likely caused by PHA-L, but it is unclear to what extent the associated digestive problems reduced iron bioavailability. This trial was registered at clinicaltrials.gov as NCT02215278. J Nutr 2016;146:970-5.

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