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Lentils Can Boost Selenium

More than one billion people globally suffer from selenium deficiency due to low dietary intake in countries where soil selenium levels are low, such as Australia, New Zealand and Bangladesh. Now a University of Western Australia team has found that applying 40 g/ha of selenium directly onto lentil plants during their reproductive stage increased the selenium concentration of lentils by up to 14 times.

“Our research shows that without changing food habits, biofortified lentils would provide adequate dietary selenium to people living in countries where soil selenium levels are low, such as Australia, New Zealand and Bangladesh,” Prof William Erskine said. “This means that eating just 20 grams of biofortified lentils can supply all of the recommended daily allowance of selenium.”

“The research found that genetic variation in lentils does affect the amount of uptake and concentration of selenium and therefore there is an opportunity to breed and select for improved varieties with selenium seed concentration,” said PhD student Mahmudur Rahman.

“There is scientific evidence that a selenium-deficient diet may increase the risk of arsenic poisoning among people exposed to arsenic-contaminated water,” said Prof Kadambot Siddique. “In Bangladesh, more than 80 million people are at risk of drinking arsenic-contaminated water. The research is particularly significant to Bangladesh where the average consumption of selenium is only half of the World Health Organisation recommended level of 55 µg per person per day.”

The research was published in the Journal of Agricultural Science and Food Research International.