Iron absorption from wheat flour: effects of lemonade and chamomile infusion.
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Objective: We measured iron bioavailability of meals based on wheat flour consumed by a vulnerable population in Latin America. Methods: Bioavailability of iron (ferrous sulfate) from fortified noodles, noodle soup, noodle soup eaten with lemonade sweetened with panela (unrefined whole cane sugar), bread alone, and bread consumed with a chamomile infusion sweetened with panela was studied using the double isotopic method in 13 women. Results: Iron bioavailabilities from bread, noodles, and noodle soup were not significantly different (7.4%, 6.3%, and 6.0%, respectively). Iron absorption from noodle soup was significantly higher when given with lemonade (11.0%) compared with absorption of the same meal without lemonade (P < 0.02) or with the absorption of noodles (P < 0.04). Iron absorption of bread given alone or with chamomile infusion sweetened with panela (8%) was not significantly different. Conclusion: Iron bioavailability of meals based on wheat flour, fortified with ferrous sulfate, is improved when given with lemonade. The consumption of this beverage may be an alternative to further increase the effectiveness of wheat flour fortification in preventing iron deficiency in low-income Latin American populations.