The inclusion of pulses in traditional wheat-based food products is increasing as the food industry and consumers are recognizing the nutritional benefits due to the high protein, antioxidant activity, and good source of dietary fiber of pulses. Iron deficiency is a significant global health challenge, affecting approximately 30% of the world’s population. Dietary iron deficiency is the foremost cause of anemia, a condition that harms cognitive development and increases maternal and infant mortality. This study intended to demonstrate the potential efficacy of low-phytate biofortified pea varieties on dietary iron (Fe) bioavailability, as well as on intestinal microbiome, energetic status, and brush border membrane (BBM) functionality in vivo (Gallus gallus
). We hypothesized that the low-phytate biofortified peas would significantly improve Fe bioavailability, BBM functionality, and the prevalence of beneficial bacterial populations. A six-week efficacy feeding (n
= 12) was conducted to compare four low-phytate biofortified pea diets with control pea diet (CDC Bronco), as well as a no-pea diet. During the feeding trial, hemoglobin (Hb), body-Hb Fe, feed intake, and body weight were monitored. Upon the completion of the study, hepatic Fe and ferritin, pectoral glycogen, duodenal gene expression, and cecum bacterial population analyses were conducted. The results indicated that certain low-phytate pea varieties provided greater Fe bioavailability and moderately improved Fe status, while they also had significant effects on gut microbiota and duodenal brush border membrane functionality. Our findings provide further evidence that the low-phytate pea varieties appear to improve Fe physiological status and gut microbiota in vivo, and they highlight the likelihood that this strategy can further improve the efficacy and safety of the crop biofortification and mineral bioavailability approach.
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