, Volume 180, Issue 1, pp 123–128 | Cite as

The potential of lentil (Lens culinaris L.) as a whole food for increased selenium, iron, and zinc intake: preliminary results from a 3 year study

  • Dil ThavarajahEmail author
  • Pushparajah Thavarajah
  • Asoka Wejesuriya
  • Michael Rutzke
  • Raymond P. Glahn
  • Gerald F. CombsJr.
  • Albert Vandenberg


Micronutrient malnutrition, especially selenium (Se), iron (Fe), and zinc (Zn) deficiency, is a major global health problem. Previous attempts to prevent micronutrient malnutrition through food fortification, supplementation, and enrichment of staple crops has had limited success. Canadian grown lentils are rich in micronutrients Fe (73–90 mg kg−1), Zn (44–54 mg kg−1), Se (425–673 μg kg−1), and have very low concentrations of phytic acid (2.5–4.4 mg g−1). Our preliminary studies using a Caco-2 cell model show that the uptake of Fe from lentils is relatively greater than that of most other staple food crops. Moreover, preliminary results from our human nutrition study in Sri Lanka show an increased trend in blood Se concentration after lentil consumption. This article briefly overviews our previously published results as well as data from international lentil field trials, and describes the potential for biofortified lentil to provide a whole food solution to combat global human micronutrient malnutrition.


Lentils Biofortification Iron Zinc Selenium Phytic acid 



We thank the Pulse Biofortification research team (Chai-Thiam See, Barry Goetz, Kevin Andal, and Andrew Arndt) at the CDC for technical assistance and Dr. Kofi Agblor for reviewing the manuscript. Support for this research was provided by the Saskatchewan Pulse Growers, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and the Agriculture Development Fund, Ministry of Agriculture, Saskatchewan, Canada.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dil Thavarajah
    • 1
    Email author
  • Pushparajah Thavarajah
    • 2
  • Asoka Wejesuriya
    • 3
  • Michael Rutzke
    • 4
  • Raymond P. Glahn
    • 4
  • Gerald F. CombsJr.
    • 5
  • Albert Vandenberg
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Cereal and Food Sciences, School of Food SystemsNorth Dakota State UniversityFargoUSA
  2. 2.Crop Development Centre, College of Agriculture and BioresourcesUniversity of SaskatchewanSaskatoonCanada
  3. 3.Lady Ridgeway Children HospitalColombo 08Sri Lanka
  4. 4.Robert W. Holley Center for Agriculture and Health, Agricultural Research ServiceUS Department of AgricultureIthacaUSA
  5. 5.Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Centre, ARS/USDAGrand ForksUSA

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