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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 806: International Symposium on Underutilized Plants for Food Security, Nutrition, Income and Sustainable Development

ASSESSMENT OF THE NUTRITIONAL VALUE OF WILD LEAFY VEGETABLES CONSUMED IN THE BUHERA DISTRICT OF ZIMBABWE: A PRELIMINARY STUDY

Authors:   M. Muchuweti, A. Kasiamhuru, M.A.N. Benhura, B. Chipurura, P. Amuna, F. Zotor, W. Parawira
Keywords:   Amaranthus hybridus, Cleome gynandra, Bidens pilosa, Corchorus tridens, Adansonia digitata, vitamin C, rural communities
Abstract:
Wild leafy vegetables play a vital role in the livelihoods of many communities in Africa. The focus of this study was to investigate the nutritional value of wild vegetables commonly consumed by the people of Buhera District in the Manicaland province of Zimbabwe. A variety of vegetables including Amaranthus hybridus, Cleome gynandra, Bidens pilosa, Corchorus tridens, and Adansonia digitata were collected during a survey in Buhera District. Samples were processed employing traditional methods of cooking and drying, then subjected to proximate and micronutrient analyses. The results indicate that these vegetables were particularly high in calcium, iron, and vitamin C. Compared with Brassica napus (rape), Amaranthus hybridus contained twice the amount of calcium, with other nutrients almost in the same range. Compared with Spinacia oleracea (spinach), Amaranthus hybridus contained three times more vitamin C (44 mg/100 g). Calcium levels were 530 mg/100 g. Amaranthus hybridus was also found to contain 7, 13, and 20 times more vitamin C, calcium, and iron respectively compared with Lactuca sativa (lettuce). Cleome gynandra contained 14 mg/100 g, 115 mg/100 g, 9 mg/100 g of vitamin C, calcium, and iron respectively. Bidens pilosa was found to be a valuable source of vitamin C (63 mg/100 g), iron (15 mg/100 g), and zinc (19 mg/100 g), compared with Brassica oleracea (cabbage). The leaves of Corchorus tridens were an excellent source of vitamin C (78 mg/100 g), calcium (380 mg/100 g), and iron (8 mg/100 g). The Adansonia digitata leaves were also rich in vitamin C (55 mg/100 g), iron (23 mg/ 100 g), and calcium (400 mg/100 g). Based on these nutrient contents, the above vegetables will have potential benefits as part of feeding programmes, as well as their promotion as part of composite diet for vulnerable groups.
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