Bananas and plantains (Musa spp.) are a staple food for millions of impoverished people and as such are an important source of vitamins and micronutrients. To evaluate the potential of Musa spp. to meet dietary micronutrients requirements, we have screened 171 different genotypes for fruit provitamin A carotenoids (pVACs) contents, and a subset of 47 genotypes for macro- and micro-mineral (iron and zinc) contents using standardised sampling and analytical protocols. The results indicate that there is substantial variability in mean fruit pulp pVACs contents between cultivars, and that cultivars with a high fruit pVACs content are widely distributed across the different genome groups but only at a low frequency. The introduction of such high pVACs cultivars has much potential for improving the vitamin A nutritional status of Musa-dependent populations at modest and realistic fruit-consumption levels. In contrast, fruit pulp mineral micronutrient contents (iron and zinc), were low and showed limited inter-cultivar variability, even for genotypes grown under widely-differing environments and soil types. Results are discussed within the framework of the development of strategies to improve the nutritional health and alleviation of micronutrient deficiencies within Musa-consuming population groups.
Food Chemistry (2009) 115 (3) 806-813 [doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2008.12.088]