Better Beans Mean Better Health for All

May 11, 2010 By Marcia Wood
Better Beans Mean Better Health for All
ARS physiologist Raymond P. Glahn is working on ways to determine how to boost beans' iron bioavailability, which would benefit the more than two billion people worldwide who are iron-deficient.

(PhysOrg.com) -- Beans that add pleasing tastes and textures to chili, soups, and other favorite dishes may tomorrow be an even better source of an essential nutrient -- iron. That's a goal of Agricultural Research Service (ARS) physiologist Raymond P. Glahn. His studies may help plant breeders develop new and improved beans.

Glahn, based at the ARS Robert W. Holley Center for Agriculture and Health on the Cornell University campus at Ithaca, N.Y., collaborates in the research with Elad Tako, an ARS research associate; Michael A. Rutzke, a Cornell University analytical chemist; and others.

Their research would especially benefit the more than two billion people worldwide who are iron-deficient.

Some of the Ithaca investigations are designed to determine how plant breeders and others might boost beans' iron bioavailability—the amount of iron that the body can absorb and use from beans.

To discover more about the availability of iron in beans, or in other foods and food components, Glahn developed a laboratory test in 1998 that uses Caco-2 (pronounced KAY coe) human . The test gives an indication of how the human digestive system would treat beans and nutrients from beans.

Lab animal tests, conducted as a follow-up to some Caco-2 assays, are an important intermediate step between Caco-2 tests and costly studies with human volunteers, according to Glahn. In recent years, tests conducted by Glahn and co-researchers at Ithaca suggest that chickens have promise as an for iron-absorption studies.

In an article published earlier this year in Poultry Science, Glahn and co-investigators report that chickens are sensitive to , and that at least a half-dozen different indicators of this deficiency, already used in studies with other animals, are valid for research with chickens, as well.

In other work, Glahn's team found that results from their iron bioavailability tests with chickens confirmed a Caco-2 finding: iron in red beans was less bioavailable to the animals than was iron in white beans.

Explore further: Iron and copper relationship is studied

Related Stories

Iron and copper relationship is studied

July 24, 2007

U.S. scientists studying the relationship of iron and copper in the body have found when iron absorption by cells decreases, copper absorption increases.

Culprit Compounds That Block Beans' Healthful Iron Probed

September 25, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Familiar beans like reds, whites and pintos are rich in iron, a nutrient essential for our health. But not all of the little legumes' treasure trove of iron is bioaccessible -- that is, available for our ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

4 million years at Africa's salad bar

August 3, 2015

As grasses grew more common in Africa, most major mammal groups tried grazing on them at times during the past 4 million years, but some of the animals went extinct or switched back to browsing on trees and shrubs, according ...

A look at living cells down to individual molecules

August 3, 2015

EPFL scientists have been able to produce footage of the evolution of living cells at a nanoscale resolution by combining atomic force microscopy and an a super resolution optical imaging system that follows molecules that ...

New lizard named after Sir David Attenborough

August 3, 2015

A research team led by Dr Martin Whiting from the Department of Biological Sciences recently discovered a beautifully coloured new species of flat lizard, which they have named Platysaurus attenboroughi, after Sir David Attenborough.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.