Iron and Protein Content of Priority African Indigenous Vegetables in the Lake Victoria Basin

Journal of Agricultural science and Technologr 01/2010; 4(4):1939-1250.

ABSTRACT African indigenous vegetables have many nutritional and health benefits that have not been well researched and fully exploited. The objective of this study was to determine iron and protein contents of seven priority African indigenous vegetables found in Eastern Africa. The vegetables were planted at two sites, Maseno University, Maseno in western Kenya and Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), Juja in Central Kenya between 2006 and 2008. These vegetables were organically grown and edible parts of each of the vegetable harvested during vegetative growth stages just before onset of flowering and analysed for iron and protein contents. Nightshade and cowpea had high levels of both iron and protein. Pumpkin leaves and amaranths had high iron content while spiderplant and slenderleaf had high protein levels. Both iron and protein levels differed significantly between the seven vegetables at both sites. Nightshade and cowpea contained iron and protein levels that would provide 100% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) iron and 50% of recommended daily allowance protein for optimal human growth and health. These results help to demonstrate the nutritional value of African indigenous vegetables and their potential use in nutrition intervention programs.

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    ABSTRACT: Nutritional iron deficiency is the common cause of anaemia in developing world. However, Africa is endowed with African indigenous vegetables (AIVs) rich in micronutrients. Surveys within East Africa relate low AIV consumption to limited information on recipe preparation. The aim of this research is to determine iron content of various formulated indigenous vegetable recipes. Experimental research involved four randomly selected AIVs; African Nightshade (Solanum scabrum), Vegetable Amaranth (Amaranthus blitum), Slenderleaf (Crotalaria ochroleuca) and Cowpea (Vigna unguiculata). Four single and six vegetable combinations were boiled for ten minutes with and without traditional salt, then fried for five minutes using onions and tomatoes, giving rise to twenty recipes. Iron content was evaluated using Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy. Iron content of raw indigenous vegetables was significantly (P < 0.05) lower than boiled and fried AIVs. Fried AIVs had significantly (P < 0.05) higher iron content compared to the boiled AIVs. Mean iron content of AIVs fried with lye was insignificantly (P > 0.05) lower compared to those fried without lye. Fried AIVs should be recommended in areas with high dietary iron deficiency; this could help alleviate anaemia.
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    ABSTRACT: High poverty levels in western Kenya that are manifested in malnutrition and poor health prevail yet the region is endowed with high agricultural biodiversity like African Leafy Vegetables (ALVs). The vegetables have high micronutrient content, medicinal properties, several agronomic advantages and economic value yet their potential in alleviating poverty and ensuring household food and nutrition security in the rural areas has not been exploited. Despite all the above advantages, these vegetables have been neglected and face several constraints hampering optimal production such that if the situation is left unchecked it may result in loss of this biodiversity. It is because of this that a study was conducted with the objectives of documenting the diversity of African Leafy Vegetables and to collect indigenous knowledge on production, agronomic and cultural practices in three communities of Western Kenya. A survey was conducted between January 2002 and March, 2003, in six districts in Western and Nyanza provinces representing the Luhya, Luo and Kisii communities. A structured questionnaire was administered to eighty purposively sampled respondents distributed in the ratio of 30:20:30 for Luhya, Luo and Kisii communities respectively. One focus group discussions per community was held and two key informants per community were interviewed. Over 90% of the respondents indicated that there was an increase in the cultivation of African Leafy Vegetables. Ten African Leafy Vegetables were found in the three communities representing eight botanic families. All the communities cultivated the ALVs at a subsistence level in home gardens, with organic sources of manure and under an intercrop system. Broadcasting was practiced by 20%, 40% and 60% of the respondents from the Luhya, Luo and Kisii communities respectively. Harvesting was done by first uprooting at thinning then ratooning. The major constraints facing production of African Leafy Vegetables included lack of quality seed, pests and diseases, drought, poor marketing strategies and lack of technical packages. In conclusion, the study showed that all the three communities studied had a high diversity of cultivated African Leafy Vegetables covering eight botanic families; respondents in all the communities cultivate African leafy vegetable in a subsistence, home gardening, intercrop system where the use of chemical fertilizers and chemicals was minimal and the major constraints of production of African Leafy Vegetables included, poor quality seed, drought and poor marketing systems and infrastructure. The identified species should be promoted and improved as commercial crops.
    African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development (ISSN: 1684-5358) Vol 7 Num 3. 01/2007;


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