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Carotenoid content of pandanus fruit cultivars and other foods of the Republic of Kiribati

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 January 2007

Lois Englberger*
Island Food Community of Pohnpei, Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia Division of International Health, School of Population Health, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
William Aalbersberg
Institute of Applied Science, University of the South Pacific, Suva, Fiji
Usaia Dolodolotawake
Institute of Applied Science, University of the South Pacific, Suva, Fiji
Joseph Schierle
DSM Nutritional Products Ltd, Kaiseraugst, Switzerland
Julia Humphries
University of Adelaide, Faculty of Sciences, School of Agriculture and Wine, Glen, Osmond, Australia
Tinai Iuta
Ministry of Health and Medical Services, Tarawa, Republic of Kiribati
Geoffrey C Marks
Division of International Health, School of Population Health, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
Maureen H Fitzgerald
School of Occupation and Leisure Sciences, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
Betarim Rimon
Ministry of Environment, Lands, and Agricultural Development, Tarawa, Republic of Kiribati
Mamarau Kaiririete
Ministry of Environment, Lands, and Agricultural Development, Tarawa, Republic of Kiribati
*Corresponding author: Email
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Kiribati, a remote atoll island country of the Pacific, has serious problems of vitamin A deficiency (VAD). Thus, it is important to identify locally grown acceptable foods that might be promoted to alleviate this problem. Pandanus fruit (Pandanus tectorius) is a well-liked indigenous Kiribati food with many cultivars that have orange/yellow flesh, indicative of carotenoid content. Few have been previously analysed.


This study was conducted to identify cultivars of pandanus and other foods that could be promoted to alleviate VAD in Kiribati.


Ethnography was used to select foods and assess acceptability factors. Pandanus and other foods were analysed for β- and α-carotene, β-cryptoxanthin, lutein, zeaxanthin, lycopene and total carotenoids using high-performance liquid chromatography.


Of the nine pandanus cultivars investigated there was a great range of provitamin A carotenoid levels (from 62 to 19 086 μg β-carotene/100 g), generally with higher levels in those more deeply coloured. Seven pandanus cultivars, one giant swamp taro (Cyrtosperma chamissonis) cultivar and native fig (Ficus tinctoria) had significant provitamin A carotenoid content, meeting all or half of estimated daily vitamin A requirements within normal consumption patterns. Analyses in different laboratories confirmed high carotenoid levels in pandanus but showed that there are still questions as to how high the levels might be, owing to variation arising from different handling/preparation/analytical techniques.


These carotenoid-rich acceptable foods should be promoted for alleviating VAD in Kiribati and possibly other Pacific contexts where these foods are important. Further research in the Pacific is needed to identify additional indigenous foods with potential health benefits.

Research Article
Copyright © The Authors 2006


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