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NUTRITION CORNER: Root crop consumption can prevent chronic diseases

Although  multiple health benefits can be derived from root crops like gabi, ube, potato and cassava, it is unfortunate that the young generation prefer to eat junk foods.

A study conducted by the Department of Science and Technology’s Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DoST-FNRI) showed that root crops are good sources of carbohydrates, which can be included in the diet to meet the energy and nutrient requirement of the body.

Dr. Trinidad P. Trinidad, a scientist from the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) said root crops  are “good sources of soluble dietary fiber that actively lowers cholesterol in the body and also prevents tumor formation in the colon.”

Another study by the FNRI-DoST showed that dietary fiber that is fermented in the large intestine (or colon) binds with toxins and is excreted in the feces. Toxins in the colon contribute to the formation of tumors and cancer.

Dr. Trinidad said there are many nutritional benefits that one can derive from eating rootcrops which can help in the prevention of chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic respiratory disease, and diabetes.

Kamote and cassava are both rich sources of calcium, an element found in bones and teeth.

On the other hand, gabi is an excellent source of iron, a mineral needed for healthy blood and good health; and zinc, a nutrient that helps the immune system fight off invading bacteria and viruses and makes proteins and DNA. Meanwhile, ube rates high in tannic acid, which has anti-bacterial, anti-enzymatic, and astringent properties.

In 2002, World Health Organization reported  that chronic diseases have accounted for 57% of all deaths in the Philippines and that obesity and overweight were the two leading causes of these diseases.

Dr. Trinidad said that the number of obese and overweight men and women is expected to increase in the next 10 years.

Trinidad said a healthy diet that includes root crops, regular physical activity, and the avoidance of tobacco products could prevent at least 80% of premature heart diseases, stroke, and type 2 diabetes and 40% of cancers.

Another study conducted by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (FNRI-DOST) showed that eating kamote and cassava significantly decreased the total cholesterol levels of adults with moderately-raised cholesterol levels. Specifically, cassava was shown to have significantly decreased LDL-cholesterol levels.

The study concluded that rootcrops, due to their dietary fiber content, could have a significant role in the reduction of lipid biomarkers. (Reference: Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI)

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