A new type of a carrot, designed to express a plant Ca2+/H+ transporter gene sCAX1, that allows the plant to accumulate up to two-fold higher calcium content than a regular carrot, has been developed by researchers at Texas A&M AgriLife’s Vegetable and Fruit Improvement Center, and was tested at Baylor College of Medicine in a small study. The study’s findings are reported in today’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences:
“The primary goal was to increase the calcium in fruit and vegetables to benefit human health and nutrition,” Morris [Dr. Jay Morris, lead author on the paper, a post doctorate researcher at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston –ed.] said. “Fruit and vegetables are good for you for many reasons, but they have not been a good source of calcium in the past.”
Morris, who worked on the study while earning a doctorate at Texas A&M University, said fruits and vegetables play a role in good bone health for other reasons.
“We believe that if this technology is applied to a large number of different fruits and vegetables, that would have an even greater impact on preventing osteoporosis,” he said.
For this study, the researchers provided the carrots to a group of 15 men and 15 women. The people were fed either the modified carrots, called sCAX1, or regular carrots in the week one. On a second visit two weeks later, they were fed the other type of carrot.
Urine samples were collected 24 hours after each feeding study to determine the amount of specially marked calcium absorbed, Morris explained.
The study group also was evaluated for their normal absorption rate to compare with the rate of absorption from the calcium-enhanced carrots, he said.
He said both men and women absorbed higher amounts of calcium from the modified carrots. But the technology needs to be available in a wide range of fruits and vegetables so that people can get the calcium benefit.