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Scientists tailor iodine and potassium content of microgreens

In a significant development for personalized nutrition, researchers in Italy have cultivated microgreens with bespoke nutritional profiles to serve individual dietary requirements. The study, published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, provides a blueprint for the soilless cultivation of nutritionally enriched plants in a commercial greenhouse setting.

Co-authors Massimiliano D'Imperio and Francesco Serio, both at the Institute of Sciences of Food Production (ISPA) National Council of Research (CNR); and Massimiliano Renna, professor of agricultural and environmental science at the University of Bari Aldo Moro, Italy, explained the motivation behind the research.

"Propelled by an ever-growing awareness of the importance of following dietary recommendations, interest in personalized nutrition is on the rise. Soilless biofortification of vegetables has opened the door to the potential for adapting vegetable production to specific dietary requirements," Renna said.

The team cultivated four different species—radish, pea, arugula, and Swiss chard—and focused on two nutrients that play a crucial role in health and nutrition: iodine and potassium.

Iodine is critical to thyroid function, with deficiency affecting approximately two billion people worldwide. Fortifying table salt with iodine is a strategy used internationally to combat deficiency, while other sources in the human diet include fish, milk, and eggs. However, recommendations from the World Health Organization to reduce daily salt intake, paired with an increase in vegetarian and vegan diets, mean demand for alternative iodine sources is growing.

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