Eating high-iron beans improves memory and attention span in female university students in Rwanda
Dr. Laura Murray-Kolb, at the Pennsylvania State University and lead author of the paper said: “This is the first scientific evidence we have that iron-biofortified beans can improve cognition in women during this critical phase of their lives.”
“Our work highlights that iron deficiency may disadvantage young women in their academic prospects and careers. Without addressing malnutrition, we cannot expect our people and economies to reach their full potential. Our young people are behind in the race before it has even started,” Dr. Mercy Lung'aho, CIAT nutritionist, added.Despite the clear potential for improvements in agriculture to enhance maternal and child nutrition outcomes, evidence supporting its effectiveness to do so has been scarce. This study comes as experts of the Global Nutrition Report 2017 pointed to ‘significant burdens’ of malnutrition in 140 countries, warning that if the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals are to be met, more action must be taken. Dr. Robin Buruchara, Director of the Pan-Africa Bean Research Alliance (PABRA), the largest bean breeding network in Africa covering 30 countries, said:
“We are intensifying our breeding programs to respond to multiple challenges facing our farmers: this includes breeding beans that are not only high in iron content but also drought tolerant, high yielding, pest and disease resilient and fit the demands of consumers.”Solutions such as high-iron beans do exist, but are not streamlined into policy to address healthier diets.
Dr. Steve Beebe, leader of CIAT’s Bean Program, believes that high-iron beans can be part of a response to tackle malnutrition. “We need firm policy action, to advocate for food systems that include foods improved for their nutritional value,” he said. “We also need to holistically address a whole range of health factors, from more nutritious diets at household level to education and awareness about healthy diets.”Beans are commonly eaten as a part of almost every meal in Rwanda. Scaling up iron-biofortified beans can improve health in the region and in populations elsewhere that similarly consume beans, without changing eating patterns. Policy makers could consider including iron-biofortified beans as part of national strategies to overhaul food systems on the continent. This study was supported by grants from CGIAR initiative HarvestPlus and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), a CGIAR research center.
- First Study Shows Eating High-Iron Beans Improves Memory and Attention Span in Female University Students in Rwanda Nov 2017
- New Study Proves Iron-Biofortified Beans Enhance Health Outcomes for Rwandan Women HarvestPlus Nov 2017
- High iron beans double brain power – study The New Times Rwanda, Dec 2017
- Study The Journal of Nutrition, Nov 2017