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African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development
Rural Outreach Program
ISSN: 1684-5358
EISSN: 1684-5358
Vol. 14, No. 7, 2014, pp. 9529-9543
Bioline Code: nd14071
Full paper language: English
Document type: Research Article
Document available free of charge

African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development, Vol. 14, No. 7, 2014, pp. 9529-9543

Anoma, A.; Collins, R. & McNeil, D.


Lentil ( Lens culinaris check for this species in other resources Medic.) is a pulse crop that belongs to the family Leguminosae. Lentils are rich in proteins, have 18 of the 20 amino acids including all 8 essential amino acids and provide a number of essential minerals and vitamins. Thus, lentils occupy an important place in the human diet, especially in developing countries, as a rich source of protein, vitamins and minerals. Although in many developing countries in Asia rice contributes significantly to human daily energy and nutritional requirements, its amino acid profile shows that rice lacks some essential amino acids. Therefore, given their rich composition of amino acids, lentils could act as an ideal supplement for rice-based diets. Although all red lentils are imported, they are the most widely consumed pulse among Sri Lankans. Red lentil consumption levels are significantly greater in the estate sector where the prevalence of under nutrition is high. Thus, this review was undertaken to understand the potential role of lentils in the Sri Lankan diet and how lentils can potentially be utilized to meet the nutritional needs of Sri Lankans. The study was based on an extensive literature review and information obtained through personal interviews with key participants in the red lentil industry of Sri Lanka. It was evident that red lentils are a rich source of nutrients, especially micro-nutrients, but their bioavailability is poor due to the presence of multiple anti-nutritive factors such as protease inhibitors, phenolic compounds and phytates. Although bioavailability of nutrients can be enhanced by changing food processing techniques, fortification and bio-fortification, lentil cooking patterns in Sri Lanka pose difficulties in adopting changed food processing techniques and fortification. Thus, bio-fortification would be the most viable option for enhancing nutrient availability in lentils. Since Sri Lanka does not produce lentils, such initiatives may have to be undertaken in exporting countries or in collaboration with international agricultural research centres. Any strategic investments in breeding new lentil varieties with high bioavailability would provide exporting countries a unique competitive edge in export markets. Such improvements would meet the nutritional needs, not only of Sri Lankans, but also of millions other Asian consumers who face similar nutritional challenges.

Bioavailability; Consumption; Nutrition; lentils; Sri Lanka

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