A team of agricultural scientists has found that orange-fleshed cucumber varieties from north-eastern regions of India are four to five times richer in carotenoid content (pro-vitamin A) than the more common white flesh varieties.
Orange-fleshed cucumbers are found in the tribal areas of north-east. The fruits are consumed as cooked vegetable or as chutney. People call it `Fanghma’ and ‘Hmazil’ in Mizoram and `Thabi’ in Manipur.
The varieties caught the attention of researchers while they were characterizing indigenous germplasm of cucumber deposited at the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR). On further inspection, they found that they were collected from Manipur and Mizoram. Anticipating that orange color of the plants may correspond to high carotenoid content, they decided to study their characteristics and nutrient content in detail.
“A lot of fruits are available which may provide recommended daily intake of beta carotene/carotenoids. However, they may be beyond the reach of the poor in developing countries. Cucumber is available at an affordable cost throughout India. Identiﬁcation and utilization of carotenoid-rich landraces will deﬁnitely make a difference in our efforts in the area of nutritional security,” explained Dr. Pragya Ranjan, a scientist at NBPGR and a member of the study team, while speaking to India Science Wire.