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

Journal of Agricultural Science and Technology (Impact Factor: 0.7). 01/2010; 4(4):1939-1250.


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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Available from: Mary Oyiela Abukutsa-Onyango
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    ABSTRACT: The world derives 95% of its food energy from 30 crops species, whilst 7000 species are underutilized, neglected and held in low esteem. Highly nutritious African indigenous vegetables and fruits are threatened with extinction. One of the Millennium Development Goals calls for the world to reduce by half the number of people suffering from hunger and malnutrition. This cannot be met without recognizing the potential of this indigenous resource. Inadequate consumption of vegetables and fruits has led to obesity and malnutrition. Introduction of exotic crops has impacted negatively on the domestication and consumption of indigenous fruits and vegetables. African indigenous food crops have economic potential and necessary agronomic traits to ensure resilience against climate change. Constraints reside in their optimal production and consumption. Strategic repositioning of this resource through horticulture would ensure their optimal and sustainable production and utilization.
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