Nutritional characterization of grain amaranth grown in Nigeria for food security and healthy living
Amaranths cruentus is a flowering plant species that yields the nutritious staple amaranth grain. Zinc in grain amaranth is reported to contribute to boosting the immune system and iron is required by enzymes for oxygen metabolism. This study is to exploit the multi-benefits of amaranth which ranged from improved well-being to recovery of severely malnourished children; increased body mass index of people formerly wasted by HIV/AIDS; environmental adaptability, yield, and recipes development. The study focused on determining the nutritional and medicinal properties of grain amaranth cultivar obtained from Rural Extension with Africa Poor (REAP) in Kenya which was propagated in Kwara State, Nigeria, harvested after 65 days, and prepared as samples for the study. Standard procedures of Association of Official Analytical Chemists (AOAC), Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer, Flame Photometer, and Spectrophotometer were used to determine the macro/micronutrients in the grains. Results revealed that the grains contained protein, lipid, Iron-66 mg/100g, Zinc-11.34 mg/100g, Calcium-78.7 mg/100g, Manganese-37.1 mg/100g, Magnesium-2845 mg/100g, Potassium-400 mg/100g; Thiamine-0.2756 mg (%), Riboflavin-0.734 mg (%) and Niacin-1.042. More research efforts are needed on growing, inclusion in diets, consumer behavior and market acceptability of Amaranth cruentus based products in order to contribute to the efforts of addressing food security, poverty reduction, nutritional, and medicinal needs of vulnerable communities.
Keywords: Complementary Food, Cultivar, Macro/micronutrients, Recipes, Well-being.