Asian vegetables jam packed full of healthy folate, research finds

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 21st October 2011

New research from the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) has found that several types of Asian vegetables contain folate levels equal to or greater than spinach, making them one of the richest sources of folate known.

The research team, led by scientists at the Queensland Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation (DEEDI) used new technologies to measure the folate levels of ten Asian vegetables including buk choy, choy sum and wombok and compared them to spinach.

RIRDC’s Managing Director Craig Burns said, “We know that Asian vegetables are being eaten by a growing number of Australians because they look and taste great, and now we have research confirming another one of their positive health attributes.

“Folate deficiency has been implicated in a number of disorders including Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, breast and colon cancers, depression, dementia, cleft lip/palate and hearing loss.”

Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council dietary guidelines recommend a regular intake of folate to meet daily nutritional requirements and the consumption of folate is especially important for pregnant women.

Mr Burns said that in addition to the research having significant health implications, the report will also serve as an important resource for Australia’s growing Asian food industry.

“The domestic Asian food industry has experienced significant growth in the last two decades and is estimated to now contribute approximately A$150 million to the Australian economy each year,” Mr Burns said.

The research team was led by Avis Houlihan, a Principal Scientist at DEEDI and included world leading food composition researchers from Queensland Health Forensic and Scientific Services and Mahidol University in Thailand.