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Physiochemical and nutritional characterization of Vitex payos (Lour.) Merr.(Verbenaceae): An indigenous fruit tree of Eastern Africa

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In the dry areas, indigenous fruits become important staples when cereals harvested are inadequate to support populations. Farmers in these areas have identified many of the handicaps in domestication but there is still need for inputs from the food industry into identification of the desirable traits and characteristics of potentially novel food. The purpose of this study was to assess the nutrient content of one edible wild fruit, Vitex payos that has been identified as a top priority species among the inhabitants of drylands of Kenya for domestication. The proximate, minerals and vitamin content were determined. Results showed that the fruit did contain useful quantities of potassium, manganese, phosphorus and vitamin C. Besides, sodium, magnesium and calcium were also present in minute quantities.
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Journal of Horticulture and Forestry Vol. 4(10), pp. 161-168, October 2012
Available online at http://www.academicjournals.org/JHF
DOI: 10.5897/JHF12.010
ISSN 2006-9782 ©2012 Academic Journals
Full Length Research Paper
Physiochemical and nutritional characterization of Vitex
payos (Lour.) Merr. (Verbenaceae): An indigenous fruit
tree of Eastern Africa
James Munga Kimondo1*, Jacob Godfrey Agea2, Clement Akais Okia2,
Refaat Atalla Ahmed Abohassan3, Elizabeth T. N. Nghitoolwa Ndeunyema4,
Dino Andrew Woiso5, Zewge Teklehaimanot6 and Jackson Mulatya1
1Kenya Forestry Research Institute, P. O. Box 20412-00200, Nairobi, Kenya.
2Department of Community Forestry and Extension, Makerere University, P. O. Box 7062, Kampala Uganda.
3Faculty of Meteorology, Environment and Arid Land Agriculture, King Abdulaziz University, P. O. Box 80208 Jeddah,
21589 Saudi Arabia.
4Faculty of Agriculture and Natural Resources, The University of Namibia - Ogongo Campus, Private Bag 5520,
Oshakati, Namibia.
5Department of Biological Science, Sokoine University of Agriculture, P. O. Box 3038, Morogoro, Tanzania.
6University of Bangor, Bangor Gwynedd, LL57 2UW, UK.
Accepted 23 August, 2012
In the dry areas, indigenous fruits become important staples when cereals harvested are inadequate to
support populations. Farmers in these areas have identified many of the handicaps in domestication
but there is still need for inputs from the food industry into identification of the desirable traits and
characteristics of potentially novel food. The purpose of this study was to assess the nutrient content
of one edible wild fruit, Vitex payos that has been identified as a top priority species among the
inhabitants of drylands of Kenya for domestication. The proximate, minerals and vitamin content were
determined. Results showed that the fruit did contain useful quantities of potassium, manganese,
phosphorus and vitamin C. Besides, sodium, magnesium and calcium were also present in minute
quantities.
Key words: Vitex payos, indigenous fruits, dry lands, nutrients, proximate, Kenya.
INTRODUCTION
Utilization of indigenous fruits is limited in drylands of
East and Central Africa (ECA) where they are abundantly
available because of scarce knowledge on their
nutritional values, postharvest handling (Swai and
Kimata, 2005) and lack of appreciation of the quantities
available. There is dearth of information on fruit process-
sing and value addition activities by fruit gatherers and
traders; yet processing and value addition activities could
serve to: (i) ensure continued availability of these fruits to
the consumers even in off-season periods; (ii) improve
demand and prices of these fruits as a result of good and
*Corresponding author. E-mail: jmkimondo59@yahoo.co.uk or
jmkimondo@kefri.org.
attractive packaging; and iii) reduce the bulkiness of
fruits and hence ease the transportation and storage of
the products. One such resource in the drylands of Kenya
is Vitex payos (Lour.) Merr fruit, which most subsistence
farmers collect for food consumption and for subsistence
sale in local markets during the fruit ripening seasons. V.
payos is an indigenous undomesticated fruit tree that
grows on farms and fallows in drylands of Eastern,
Coastal and Central regions of Kenya. The fruits of V.
payos are available between April and July during dry
season. The pulp is black and mealy, though it does not
stain; it is sticky and covers a fine hairy endocarp, which
normally possesses four chambers containing the seed.
The endocarp is hard and requires mechanical strength
to break and release seed (Mbabu and Wekesa, 2004;
162 J. Hortic. For.
Mbora et al., 2008). The mealy pulp is usually consumed
fresh, but could be used to process by-products such as
jam and juice (Mbabu and Wekesa, 2004; Swai and
Kimata, 2005). Pulp and nut mass are the two major
constituents of the fruits of V. payos.
Fruits are good sources of minerals and vitamins,
essential for human health (Saka and Msonthi, 1994).
They have nutritional value that could provide the
necessary body requirements (Beentje 1994; Mbabu and
Wekesa, 2004; Ondachi, 2002; Saka, 1995; Mbora et al.,
2008; Maundu et al., 1999). While these authors
observed the richness of Vitex payos in vitamin C,
Palgrave (2002) pointed out that these fruits had no
vitamin C. This study was therefore carried out to
evaluate the physico-chemical characteristics of V. payos
fruits from the drylands of Kenya. The objective of this
study was to determine the physical and nutritional
composition of fruit pulp. The null hypothesis was that V.
payos fruit pulp does not possess any valuable nutrients.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Fruit characteristics
Pulp and nut mass are the two major constituents of fruits (Leakey
et al., 2002, 2005). In V. payos, the important component is the
pulp, which is the edible portion. Ten ripe fruits were randomly
collected below 10 trees in Kitui and Mwingi districts, the two areas
where fruits are consumed as snacks and also sold in local
markets. The length and width of the fruits were measured to the
nearest 0.1 mm. The fruit skin and pulp were removed at the widest
diameter and length of the fruit and the nut measured for length and
diameter to the nearest 0.1 mm. Assuming fruit and nut had
cylindrical shape, their volumes were calculated using the formula:
Volume = ¼(πd2l);
where d is fruit/nut diameter; l is length and π = 3.14 (Foster, 2008),
even though some fruits had irregular shapes. The volumes of
individual fruits were computed and compared between the two
districts and between individual trees.
To assess variation between fruits at different heights in t he
canopy, 15 ripe fruits were collected from each of the lower, middle
and upper third portion of the entire canopy from 18 trees in Kitui.
This was done to determine the anecdote farmers held that fruits
from different parts of the canopy differed in size. Length and width
of individual fruits were measured to the nearest 0.1 mm and weight
to the nearest 0.1 g. The 15 fruits from every canopy layer were
mixed and divided into three random subgroups of five fruits each.
Each batch of five fruits had all the pulp scrapped together with the
skin and weighed (fresh weight). Pulp was dried in an oven at
105°C for 12 h, weighed after cooling and expressed as percent of
the fresh pulp weight. To estimate the number of fruits per k ilogram,
batches of 200 ripe fruits were collected from 15 r andomly s elected
trees in Kitui. The fruits were mixed thoroughly and divided into
batches of close to 1000 g and fruits in each counted.
Chemical composition of fruit pulp
Ripe fruits were collected from five random trees in Gitumbi village,
Mbeere district, where fresh ripe fruits were available for immediate
transport to the UK. The fruits were frozen and transported to the
laboratory. The pulp was scrapped from the fruit immediately and
chilled to C. The frozen pulp was stored until the time of
analyses. To prepare the samples for analysis, they were thawed
and oven-dried at 70°C for 24 h, ground, and sieved at 200 µM.
Samples were analyzed for proximate, mineral and vitamin content
in the laboratory of the School of the Environment, Natural
Resources and Geography, Bangor University, UK. The proximate
included protein, fat, ash, total dietary fibre, carbohydrate and
energy, while minerals were macronutrients: calcium (Ca),
magnesium (Mg), phosphorus (P), potassium (K) and sodium (Na)
and micronutrients: iron (Fe), zinc (Zn) and Manganese (Mn).
Vitamins analysed were both water-soluble; ascorbic acid (vitamin
C), thiamine (B1), niacin (B3) and pyridoxine (B6), and fat soluble
ones; α-tocopherol (vitamin E), phylloquinone (vitamin K) and β-
carotene (provitamin A). The laboratory analytical methods used
are described as follows.
Protein
The protein content of pulp samples was obtained by measuring
nitrogen (N) content of the s amples following the Kjeldahl method
using a Kjeltec 2300 analyser unit (FOSS, Denmark). In brief, 200
mg of pulp sample were digested by adding 4 ml of H2SO4 (98%)
and 2 digestive tablets, and warmed for 4 h at 30°C. The resultant
nitrogen was converted into (NH4)2SO4, which on distillation with
NaOH released NH3 in the form of ammonium ions (NH4+) which
bonded t o the SO42- ions of the acid. After the digestion, s ample
solutions were placed in the Kjeltec analyser unit to determine their
N c ontent. The realised N content was multiplied by 6.25 to obtain
the protein content in samples.
Fat content
The f at c ontent was determined directly by extracting the fruit pulp
with petroleum ether using Soxtec Avanti 2050 syst em (Foss,
Denmark). Five grams of pulp sample were placed in a porous
thimble, which was lodged into an extraction aluminium cup
containing 80 ml of petroleum ether as a solvent and the fat was
extracted by the Soxtec system. After the extraction, tubes were
placed in an oven at 102°C to evaporate the r emaining solvent and
dry the sample. The residue in round bottom f lask after solvent
removal represented the fat content of the sample. Extracted f at
was weighed and divided by the sample weight (5 g) t o obtain the
fat content (g g-1).
Ash content
Two grams of pulp sample was put into crucible and weight was
recorded and placed in a furnace at 600°C for 12 h. When samples
were burnt, water and volatile substances were vaporized while
organic substances were oxidised in the presence of oxygen. After
samples were cooled, ash was weighed and the content (g g-1) was
calculated by dividing ash weight by the original weight of the
sample.
Total dietary fibre
Dietary fibre includes polysaccharides, oligosaccharides, lignin and
associated plant substances that are resistant to digestion in
humans (McCleary, 2003). Therefore, dietary fibre content
determination consists of the removal of digestible substances of the
pulp samples and weighing the rest. To assess dietary fibre
content, 1 g of pulp sample was used after fat extraction. Each
sample was dissolved in 50 ml of phosphate (pH 6), after which
0.1 ml of amylase was added and the solution was incubated at
95°C for 15 min t o catalyze the hydrolysis of starch into glucose.
After the incubation, the solution was cooled t o room temperature
and its pH was adjusted to 7.5 by adding NaOH (0.275 N). Then 0.1
ml of protease was added to the solution and placed in a water bath
at 60°C for 30 min t o solubilise protein. At the end of t his second
incubation, the solution was cooled at room temperature and the pH
adjusted between 4 and 4.6 by adding HCl (0.325 M). Then, 0.1 ml
of Amyloglucosidase was added to the s olution, which was placed
again in a water bath at 60°C for 30 min to remove glycogen. By the
end of this third incubation, 4 volumes of ethanol (95%) were added
and the solution kept overnight at room temperature to cool. After
complete precipitation, the solution was filtered and rinsed with
ethanol (95%) and acetone, to extract dietary fibre. Finally, the
dietary fibre was dried at 70°C in an oven overnight and then
weighed to obtain the fraction of the original sample (g g-1).
Carbohydrate content
Total digestible carbohydrate content was estimated by difference;
its c ontent was assessed based on the assumption that samples
are constituted of ash, dietary fibre, fat, protein and digestible
carbohydrate. So, when the contents of protein, fat, ash and dietary
fibre are k nown for 1 g of sample, carbohydrate content could be
calculated according to the following formula:
Carbohydrate content (g g-1) = 1 - (ash content + dietary fibre
content + fat content + protein content)
The calorific value calculated as kilo Joules per gram (kJ g-1) of fruit
pulp was determined by multiplying the carbohydrate, fibre, protein
and fat contents (in grams) by 17, 8, 17 and 37 respectively (FAO,
2003).
Water-soluble vitamins
All vitamins were determined in a Varian Prostar HPLC (Varian
Analytical Instruments, Walnut Creek, CA, USA) with a
Phenomenex HyperClone 250 x 4.60 5-micron C18 column
(Phenomenex, Torrance, CA, USA). Calibration was done by
comparing with standards (Sigma-Aldrich, Saint Louis, MO, USA).
All water-soluble vitamins were determined using a mobile phase of
90:10 100 mM pH 2.2 phosphate buffer ( 50 mM NaH2PO4; 50 mM
H3PO4) with 0.8 mM sodium 1-octanesulphonate: acetonitrile.
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) was determined at a flow rate of 1.0 ml
min-1 and absorbance measured at 240 nm. Vitamins B1 (thiamine),
B3 (niacin), and B6 (pyridoxine) were determined at a flow rate of
0.8 ml min-1 and absorbance measured at 270 nm. Samples were
extracted by maceration in 100 mM phosphate buffer at a ratio of 1
to 2 g FW to 10 ml buffer and filtered to 0.2 µM before injection.
Fat-soluble vitamins
All fat-soluble vitamins were determined using a mobile phase of
50:50 methanol:acetonitrile. The total run duration was 20 min.
Flow rate was 1.5 ml min-1 and absorbance was measured at 210
nm for the first 7.5 min whilst vitamin E (α-tocopherol) was eluted.
Flow rate was 1.5 ml min-1 and absorbance was measured at 254
nm for the period 7.5 to 11 min whilst vitamin K (phylloquinone) was
eluted. From 11 t o 20 min, flow rate was 2.0 ml min-1 and
absorbance measured at 450 nm whilst β-carotene was eluted.
Samples were extracted by maceration in cyclohexane at a ratio of
ca. 4 g fresh weight (FW ) to 50 ml cyclohexane. Volume was
reduced to ca. 1 ml by freeze-drying before analysis.
Kimondo et al. 163
Determination of Ca, Na and K contents
Flame photometry was used to determine Ca, Na and K contents in
the pulp samples. The flame photometer (model 410) measured the
light of a specific wavelength emitted when a solution of a particular
element was burnt. The amount of light emitted is directly
proportional to the element concentration in the s olution. To
prepare aqueous solutions of samples, 2 g of sample were burnt at
450°C in a furnace overnight to remove the carbon. The s amples
were then dissolved into 10 ml of hydrochloric acid (HCl) of 12 M
concentration. The solution obtained was dilut ed to 10 times for K
and Na and 80 times for Ca by adding distilled water. Seven
standard solutions at c oncentrations of 0, 5, 10, 30, 50, 70 and 100
mg L-1 were prepared for each element (Na, Ca and K). The
standards and the s ample solutions were read by the flame
photometer. A regression equation was derived between standard
solutions and the readings of the flame photometer and the
equation was used to obtain the concentration of elements in
sample solutions (mg L-1). Using the dilution rates, the elements
content in dry samples was calculated (g g-1).
Phosphorus content
Phosphorus content was determined using the colorimetric method
(Ames, 1966). This method is based on the principle that phosphate
ions react with ammonium molybdate to give a blue c omplex that
has an intense absorption band at 820 nm, when reduced by
ascorbic acid. The complex absorbance is proportional to
phosphate c oncentration in the original solution and was measured
using a spectrophotometer (BioTek, model PowerWave XS). Eighty
times concentration solutions of fruit pulp samples were obtained as
shown above. Six st andard solutions (0, 10, 30, 50, 70 and 100 mg
L-1) of the PO4 ions were used to determine the relation between
the spectrophotometer readings with phosphate concentrations. In
brief, 80 µ l of sample and st andard solutions were placed in a 96
wells plate, then 180 µl of Ames reagent were added at 30 s econd
intervals and finally 30 µl of ascorbic acid ( 10%) were added in
each well of the plate. The absorbance of the solutions was read by
the spectrophotometer after 15 min at an interval of 30 s until the
last well of the plate.
Regression equation between the concentration of standard
solutions and the readings of the spectrophotometer was used to
obtain the phosphate concentration (mg L-1) in sample solutions
and then the content (g g-1) in dry samples was calculated using the
dilution rate.
Determination of Mg, Fe, Mn and Zn content
An atomic absorption photometer (VARIAN, model SpectrAA
220FS) was us ed t o assess Fe, Mg, Mn and Zn contents in fruit
pulp s amples. The principle is that each element when burnt emits
a specific wavelength light whose intensity is proportional to the
amount of element in the solution. Six concentrations of each
element were used as standards to calibrate the photometer.
Sample solutions were prepared as earlier described. Ten (10)
times concentration solution was used for Fe, Mn and Zn while a
ninety times (90) concentration was used for Mg. Assay tubes each
containing 50 ml of sample solution were placed on a 60 wells
support where the first well was a tube of water and after each five
(5) sample tubes, a drift solution was intercalated to control the
photometer readings accuracy. The absorbance of s olutions was
read by the atomic absorption photometer and expressed as
elements c oncentration (mg L-1) according to the c alibration done
with standard solutions. The content in dry matter (g g-1) was
obtained by applying the dilution rates with r egard to each element
solution.
164 J. Hortic. For.
S M L S M L
(a)
(
)
Figure 1. Vitex payos ripe fruits showing three size width ( a) and length-wise (b). S, small; M, medium; L, large fruits.
Table 1. Mean, standard error of the mean (±SEM) and range of individual fruit length, width and weight
in Kitui, Kenya.
Parameter Minimum Maximum Mean±SEM
Fruit wt (g) 1.3 17.7 5.1 ± 0.1
Fruit width (mm) 11.0 28.7 17.7 ± 0.1
Fruit length (mm) 13.8 30.6 21.6 ± 0.1
Fruit pulp volume (cm3) 0.90 9.84 3.70 ± 0.13
Analysis of data
Fruit characteristics
The fruit parameters were compared between Kitui and Mwingi
districts using Mann Whitney test ( unequal variance), while 1-way
analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to compare different
canopy levels, respectively (Dancey and Reidy, 2007).
Chemical composition
The average content of proximate, minerals and vitamin of Vitex
payos fruit pulp were calculated from four samples with Excel for
Windows 2007.
RESULTS
Fruit characteristics
There were 203 ± 5 (n = 13) fruits for every one-kilogram
of fruits. Fruit length and width ranged between 13.8 to
30.6 mm (mean 21.6 ± 0.1 mm) and 11.0 to 28.7 mm
(mean 17.7 ± 0.1 mm), respectively, n = 804, (Figure 1),
while mean weights and pulp volume were 5.1 ± 0.1 g
and 3.70 ± 1.89 cm3, respectively (Table 1). The pulp
volumes of individual fruits from different districts were
not significantly different. Length, width and weight of
fruits from different canopy levels were not also statis-
tically different. These fruit parameters, including the pulp
volume, however, differed significantly among individual
trees, p < 0.001 with wide range between tree with lowest
and highest values (Table 1). The average fruit length
among individual trees ranged from 16.5 ± 0.2 (tree no.
14) to 27.53 ± 0.3 mm, (tree no. 6) while average fruit
width ranged between 14.4 ± 0.2 to 22.6 ± 0.4 mm for the
same trees. Fruit average weight among individual trees
ranged from 2.4 ± 0.1 to 10.5 ± 0.4 g. The lowest and
highest values of the three parameters were from two
trees. However, the order of trees between the two
extremes varied from one parameter to the other.
Fruit pulp was the major component with a mean
weight of 2.84 ± 0.04 g which represent 57.7 ± 0.5% of
total fruit weight. Pulp weights of fruits from different parts
of tree canopy were not significantly different. However,
like fruit weight, fresh pulp weights also differed
significantly between individual trees (F = 217.434, p <
0.001) ranging from 1.23 to 5.02 g. Furthermore, the
moisture content in fresh ripe fruit pulp varied from 54.9
to 91.3%, with a mean of 68.4 ± 0.4%. This was however
influenced by the ripeness of individual fruits. Mean dry
pulp weight was 0.88 ± 0.03 g and ranged between 0.28
and 1.76 g per fruit. Figure 2 shows six potential groups
Kimondo et al. 165
0
0.2
0.4
0.6
0.8
1
1.2
1.4
1.6
Mean weight per fruit (g)
Tukeys grouping of fruit trees p = 0.05
Figure 2. Tukey’s t est comparison for mean dry fruit pulp weight for individual trees.
Table 2. Proximate and vitamin composition of Vitex payos pulp.
Proximate Mean ± sem
(g 100 g-1 DW) (n = 4)
Vitamin Mean ± SEM
(mg 100 g-1 DW) (n = 3)
Water 240 ± 20 C 26.3 ± 4.9
Ash 5.3 ± 1.0 B1 n.d.
Protein 3.4 ± 0.07 B3 0.58 ± 0.2
Fat 0.44 ± 0.05 B6 0.11 ± 0.03
Fibre 60 ± 0.4 E n.d.
Carbohydrate 30 ± 0. 3 K n.d.
*Energy (kJ 100 g-1) 1064.1 ± 11.0 β-carotene n.d.
DW, Dry weight; n.d., not detected, *assuming all fibres are metabolised (FAO, 2003).
of trees according to their average pulp dry weight. Trees
with high pulp yield had over 200% more pulp than those
with the least. Out of 18 trees, 8 (44.4%) produced fruits
with at least twice as much pulp compared to low pulp
producers (Figure 2).
Nutritional composition
Proximate compositions of the fruit pulp are shown in
Table 2. The fruit pulp was rich in fibre (60 ± 0.4 g 100 g-
1) and moderate amount of carbohydrate (30 ± 0.3 g 100
g-1). The pulp protein content was 3.4 ± 0.07 g 100g-1.
The fat was low in the pulp at 0.44 ± 0.04 g 100 g-1, while
the ash content was 5.3 ± 0.1 g 100 g-1.
The fruit pulp of V. payos has three water-soluble
vitamins, C (ascorbic acid), B3 (niacin) and B6
(pyridoxine) (Table 2). Results indicated that the fruit pulp
is rich in vitamin C with 26.3± 4.9 mg 100 g-1 of pulp,
while 0.58± 0.2 mg 100 g-1 of B3 and 0.11± 0.03 mg 100
g-1 of B6 are present (Table 2). On the other hand,
vitamins B1, E, K and β-carotene (provitamin A) were not
detected in the fruit pulp. Moreover, from the results
presented in Table 3, the fruit pulp could provide
potassium in large quantities (16 ± 0.4 mg g-1 DW) while
it is a source of other macronutrients such as magnesium,
166 J. Hortic. For.
Table 3. Mean ± SEM (mg 100 g-1 DW) of mineral contents of fruit pulp.
Mineral Mean ± SEM (n = 4) Mineral Mean ± SEM (n = 4)
K 1600 ± 40 Fe 11.9 ± 2.0
Mg 90 ± 3 P 11.5 ± 0.8
Na 30 ± 2 Mn 3.9 ± 0.1
Ca 20 ± 0.4 Zn 1.9 ± 0.04
DW, Dry weight.
sodium, phosphorus and calcium in smaller quantities
(Table 3). The pulp contains micronutrients such as iron
(11.9 ± 2.0 mg 100 g-1 DW), manganese (3.9 ± 0.1) and
zinc (1.9 ± 0.04) (Table 3).
DISCUSSION
Black edible flesh surrounds a large nut in Vitex payos
fruit, which contains four chambers potentially each with
a seed. The pulp represents about 57% of the weight of
the fresh fruit but varies greatly among individual trees.
Majority of the pulp is fibre and carbohydrate (60 ± 0.44%
and 30 ± 0.3% respectively). The high fibre content
however causes the low energy of the pulp. Earlier
studies on the species by Ondachi (2002) under the
name ‘Vitex doniana’, however, showed that the fruits
contained more energy (1783 kJ 100 g-1) than found in
this study because of the high level of carbohydrate
compared to the limited crude fibre. This could be due to
the difference in methods of analysis used in
determination of the two proximate. Fruits are generally
not considered as good sources of protein; however, V.
payos contains slightly higher protein than Vitex doniana
with 2.8 g 100 g-1 (Ladeji and Okoye, 1993) and
Adansonia digitata with 3.2 ± 0.1 g 100 g-1 (Osman,
2004), but lower than Vitex mollis which has 4.3 ± 0.11 g
100 g-1 (Montiel-Herrera et al., 2004). In addition, the fat
content is lower than in V. mollis, but compares with that
of A. digitata. The ash content compares with that of V.
mollis at 2.9 ± 0.23 g 100 g-1 but was higher than for V.
doniana and A. digitata at 0.3 g 100 g-1 (Osman, 2004).
Some of the macronutrients; (Na, K, Mg, Ca, and P)
and micronutrients; (Fe, Mn, and Zn) were available in
fruit pulp in quantities that could contribute significantly to
the dietary requirements for humans. Their nutritional
significance in the pulp is individually related to the
contribution they make to the recommended dietary
allowance in human beings. Potassium is the most
abundant element in the pulp. The content available
compares favourably with that of V. mollis at 1610 ± 57
mg 100 g-1 (Montiel-Herrera et al., 2004) and is higher
than in A. digitata, which had 1240 ± 30 mg 100 g-1
(Osman, 2004). It plays an important role in the ionic
balance and helps in maintaining the tissue excitability of
the human body (Dhyani et al., 2007). With a daily
requirement of 730 mg (Shells and Young, 1987), 50 g of
fruit pulp is adequate to meet 100% of dietary
requirement. K and Ca are reported as blood pressure
lowering agents, thus reducing the occurrence of cardio-
vascular diseases (Osborne et al., 1996).
Sodium in the pulp compares well with that of A.
digitata but is only approximately 10% that of V. mollis.
Sodium working together with K maintains appropriate
acid-balance and is involved in enhancing nerve impulses
transmission in the body (Umar et al., 2007). The Na
content in the pulp is low compared to the K and this
variation has significant importance in diets. According to
Umar et al. (2007), during body growth, retention of
protein requires a K/Na ratio within a range of 3 - 4. The
ratio in V. payos pulp is around 53, thus indicating
supplementary supply of Na could be necessary where
these fruits are consumed in large quantities besides
meeting the daily requirement of 1100 to 3300 mg (Shells
and Young, 1987). The amount of Na available can only
meet between 1 and 3% of the recommended daily
allowance.
In our bodies, Mg plays an important role in circulatory
diseases and Ca metabolism in bone (Ishida et al., 2000).
The daily dietary requirement is 300 - 400 mg (Shells and
Young, 1987) and thus 100 g of fruit pulp can therefore
meet between 22 and 30%. The Ca content in Vitex
payos is lower than in A. digitata with 90 ± 2 mg 100 g-1
(Osman, 2004) and V. mollis with 45 ± 3.9 mg 100 gm-1
(Montiel-Herrera et al., 2004) but significantly higher than
in V. doniana which has 1 mg 100 g-1 (Ladeji and Okoye,
1993). Calcium is also necessary for healthy growth and
maintenance of teeth and bones. With a dietary
requirement of 800 -1200 mg (Shells and Young, 1987),
100 g of pulp can only supply between 1.7 and 2.5%.
However, the availability of Ca and its absorption in the
body depends on the Ca: P ratio (1:1) and the presence
of anti-nutritional factors (Umar et al., 2007). The V.
payos pulp however has a ratio of 2:1, thus the necessity
of supplementary P in V. payos dependent diets to
improve availability of Ca.
Phosphorus content in the fruit pulp is low with 100 g of
pulp contributing between 1 and 1.4% of daily human
requirement (Shells and Young, 1987). The mineral is
important for bones, teeth and muscles growth and
maintenance (Turan et al., 2003). Iron (Fe) is an
important trace mineral and an essential nutrient that is
required in the body in small quantities: 10 to 18 mg per
day (Shells and Young, 1987). It is an important
component of the red blood cells. It is absorbed in human
bodies in large quantities in the presence of Vitamin C
(ascorbic acid) (Shells and Young 1987). A 100 g of V.
payos pulp could contribute between 66 and 100% of
daily requirement and since the pulp contains Vitamin C,
it is a good source especially among communities that
are resource poor. Manganese, on the other hand, is
required in the body in small quantities of 2.5 to 5.0 mg
daily (Shells and Young, 1987). The fruit pulp with 3.9 ±
0.1 mg per 100 g of pulp, could meet 78 to 100% of the
daily requirement, and therefore a good source of this
nutrient. Moreover, the Zn content in V. payos compares
well with that of A. digitata, (1.8 mg 100 g-1) (Osman,
2004), but higher than in V. doniana with 0.04 mg 100 g-1
(Ladeji and Okoye, 1993) and lower than in V. mollis with
4.4 ± 0.24 mg 100 g-1). The available amount of zinc
could meet just above 10% of the daily requirement
(Shells and Young, 1987). Zn is an essential component
of many enzymes participating in metabolism of
carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, and nucleic acids as well
as in the metabolism of other micronutrients (USDA,
2001). It also plays a central role in supporting the
immune system of body (USDA, 2001).
The energy obtained from V. payos pulp is lower than
that from V. mollis (1433 kJ 100 g-1) (Montiel-Herrera et
al., 2004) and A. digitata (1340.1 ± 18.4 kJ 100 g-1)
(Osman, 2004). This was mainly because the latter had
minimal fibre with the bulk of their pulp made up of
carbohydrates with higher energy contribution than fibres.
In this study, V. payos pulp was composed of 60% fibre,
thus reducing the overall energy realized. Mbora et al.
(2008) recorded an even lower carbohydrate and energy
levels of 27.4 g and 63 kJ 100 g-1 of pulp, respectively. In
their study, the fibre content was 27 g 100 g-1, thus
leaving a substantial amount of pulp composition
unexplained.
Conclusions
Awareness of the significant contributions that wild
indigenous fruits make to the diet of the inhabitants of dry
areas in Kenya is increasing (Muok, 2001; Maundu et al.,
1999; Mbabu and Wekesa, 2004; Ondachi, 2002; Mbora
et al., 2008; Kimondo, 2010). However, the knowledge
gap of the nutritional content of most of these fruits is not
yet complete. The V. payos fruits are not endowed with
all the nutrients that were analysed. The fruit is, however,
a good source of some important nutrients such as
potassium, phosphorus and manganese, which could be
adequately supplied from consumption of these fruits as
snacks. The fruits also compare favourably with others of
the same genera where quantities of nutrients vary
slightly from one to the other.
Meanwhile, the nutritional analysis of V. payos by
chemical means informs us only of the potential value of
Kimondo et al. 167
these foods to those populations who may rely upon
them as staples or supplements to their diet. It is
important to assess the bioavailability of the essential
nutrients in these plants. Such studies and the
improvement of the processing of fruit pulp into various
end products are contemplated.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
I would like to thank Dr. Jacqualyn Eales for the technical
assistance in the preparation of the samples, for analyses
and for determining the various nutrients. Thanks are
also due to Zewge Teklehaimanot for transporting the
fresh fruits from Kenya to Wales, UK, and Peter Njeru, a
field assistant in Mbeere who did the actual fruit collection
on the farms. Leverhulme Trust (UK) funded the research
through ‘Improved Management and Utilisation of
Eastern Africa Indigenous Fruit Trees’ Project’ with
additional funds from the Government of Kenya through
Kenya Forestry Research Institute.
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