Amino Acid, Mineral and Fatty Acid Content of Pumpkin Seeds (Cucurbita spp) and Cyperus esculentus Nuts in the Republic of Niger

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of New Mexico School of Medicine Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA.
Plant Foods for Human Nutrition (Impact Factor: 1.98). 07/2006; 61(2):51-6. DOI: 10.1007/s11130-006-0010-z
Source: PubMed


Dried seeds and nuts are widely consumed by indigenous populations of the western Sahel, especially those who inhabit rural areas. In light of the need for quantitative information regarding the content of particular nutrients in these plant foods, we collected dried pumpkin (Cucurbita spp) seeds and nuts of Cyperus esculentus in the Republic of Niger and analyzed them for their content of essential amino acids, minerals and trace elements, and fatty acids. On a dry weight basis, pumpkin seed contained 58.8% protein and 29.8% fat. However, the lysine score of the protein was only 65% relative to the FAO/WHO protein standard. The pumpkin seed contained useful amounts of linoleic (92 microg/g dry weight) and the following elements (on a microg per g dry weight basis): potassium (5,790), magnesium (5,690), manganese (49.3), zinc (113), selenium (1.29), copper (15.4), chromium (2.84), and molybdenum (0.81), but low amounts of calcium and iron. Except for potassium (5,573 microg/g dry weight) and chromium (2.88 microg/g dry weight), the C. esculentis nuts contained much less of these same nutrients compared to pumpkin seeds. In conclusion, pumpkin seeds represent a useful source of many nutrients essential to humans. The data in this report should of practical value to public health officials in rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa.

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