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Combating iron deficiency in toddlers with iron-fortified food has proved difficult in countries with phytate-rich diets. For this purpose, a new haem iron preparation was developed. The study compared changes in iron status after administration of refried beans with beans fortified with a haem iron preparation or ferrous sulphate (FeSO4).
In a masked, stratified-randomised intervention trial, children received five 156-g cans of refried black beans per week for 10 consecutive weeks. The beans-only (control), FeSO4 and haem iron groups were offered a cumulative dose of 155 mg, 1625 mg and 1700 mg of iron from the bean intervention, respectively. Haemoglobin (Hb) and ferritin concentrations were determined at baseline and after 5 and 10 weeks. Compliance was examined weekly.
A low-income community in Guatemala City.
One hundred and ten children aged 12–36 months with initial Hb values between 100 and 115 g l−1.
The cumulative intake of beans was approximately 80% of that offered, signifying an additional ~1300 mg of either haem or inorganic iron in the corresponding treatment groups over 10 weeks. Hb concentrations increased by the order of 7.3–11.4 g l-1 during the intervention, but without significant differences across treatments. Average ferritin concentrations were unaffected by treatment assignment. However, post hoc analysis by subgroups of initial high ferritin and initial low ferritin found the Hb increments after 10 weeks in the haem iron group (13.1±7.7 g l−1) to be significantly greater than the respective increases (6.8±11.2 and 6.4±8.5 g l−1) in the inorganic iron and beans-only groups.
Canned refried beans are a candidate vehicle for fortificant iron. Given the improved colour and organoleptic properties imparted by haem iron added to refried beans, its additional potential for benefiting the iron status of consumers with iron deficiency may recommend it over FeSO4.
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