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October 2021

Life Support Biosph Sci. 1998 ; 5(3): 347-51.

Sweet potato in a vegetarian menu plan for NASA's Advanced Life Support Program.

Wilson CD, Pace RD, Bromfield E, Jones G, Lu JY.

Center for Food and Environmental Systems for Human Exploration of Space, George Washington Carver Agricultural Experiment Station, Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, AL 36088, USA.

Sweet potato has been selected as one of the crops for NASA's Advanced Life Support Program. Sweet potato primarily provides carbohydrate--an important energy source, beta-carotene, and ascorbic acid to a space diet. This study focuses on menus incorporating two sets of sweet potato recipes developed at Tuskegee University. One set includes recipes for 10 vegetarian products containing fom 6% to 20% sweet potato on a dry weight basis (pancakes, waffles, tortillas, bread, pie, pound cake, pasta, vegetable patties, doughnuts, and pretzels) that have been formulated, subjected to sensory evaluation, and determined to be acceptable. These recipes and the other set of recipes, not tested organoleptically, were substituted in a 10-day vegetarian menu plan developed by the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) Kennedy Space Center Biomass Processing Technical Panel. At least one recipe containing sweet potato was included in each meal. An analysis of the nutritional quality of this menu compared to the original AIBS menu found improved beta-carotene content (p<0.05). All other nutrients, except vitamin B6, and calories were equal and in some instances greater than those listed for NASA's Controlled Ecological Life Support Systems RDA. These results suggest that sweet potato products can be used successfully in menus developed for space with the added benefit of increased nutrient value and dietary variety.

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