Cowpeas (Vigna unguiculata L. Walp) are widely distributed throughout the world, being a relatively cheap source of protein and energy, but underutilized in most countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that about 1.62 billion people are affected by anemia and that preschool children are the most affected, with a prevalence of 47.4%. Several countries have stepped up efforts to reduce iron deficiency anemia by supplementing iron, as well as universal fortification of foods with iron and other micronutrients and vitamins. Parallel to these programs, several intervention studies were carried out with the same objective, using various forms of food fortification/enrichment aimed at the control of anemia. Fortification/food enrichment has contributed to the reduction of the prevalence of anemia. The biofortification of foods, such as cowpea, produced in countries of Africa and Latin America, including Brazil, where the prevalence of anemia is high, deserves attention because can be used in the usual form of ingestion and also in the form of flour in the preparation of products for children, with greater acceptance by them, constituting a new and promising strategy to reduce the levels of iron deficiency anemia.
Part of the book: Current Topics in Anemia