Orange Banana "Karat" Could Keep Kids From Going Blind

It looks like a fat carrot, but it is actually a banana. And it is so rich in precursors to vitamin A that researchers hope it could prevent children from going blind. Dubbed the "karat" because of its bright orange flesh, the unusual banana has been used for centuries in the Pacific islands of Micronesia to wean infants onto solid food--but today it is rarely eaten there, as imported foods have grown in popularity. However, researchers have established that the karat is unusually rich in beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A. The hope is that the fruit could now be routinely given to children deficient in this vitamin, to help them avoid developing certain kinds of blindness. This seems like a viable option, especially considering that vitamin A in foods is vastly superior to synthetic vitamin A.

New Scientist July 7, 2004

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