A banana a day may keep blindness away

Sydney, April 23 (IANS) If you love apples, so also love the humble banana. Eating a banana daily is likely to boost eye health and prevent vision-related diseases, a study has found.

Researchers have found that bananas have carotenoid — a compound that turn fruits and vegetables red, orange or yellow and are converted into vitamin A, important precursors for eye health — in the liver.

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According to previous research, foods containing high levels of carotenoids also protect against chronic disease, including certain cancers, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

The study showed that banana rich in provitamin A carotenoids may offer a potential food source for alleviating vitamin A deficiency — important for sight.

To combat vitamin A deficiency, researchers have been investigating methods to boost carotenoids in bananas.

Cara L. Mortimer and other researchers from Queensland University of Technology in Australia studied two banana varieties to find out why they make very different amounts of carotenoids.

They found that the pale yellow, low-carotenoid cavendish variety produces more of an enzyme that breaks down carotenoids.

In addition, another variety stashes its carotenoids in microscopic sacs during ripening, shifting the chemical equilibrium in the fruit so it can make even higher levels of these substances.

The findings, published in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, can someday help in the development of banana varieties with enhanced health benefits.

Bananas are ideal food for young children and families for many regions of the world, because of their sweetness, texture, portion size, familiarity, availability, convenience, versatility and cost.

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