Evaluation of nutrients and anti-nutrient properties of traditionally prepared Treculia africana decne (bread fruit diet and toasted seeds)
Protein deficiency affects more than 170 million pre-school children and nursing mothers in developing countries creating a need for a strategy to improve the nutritional status of their diet through supplementation with plant proteins. The nutritional value of Treculia africana (African Breadfruit) has been extensively studied under laboratory conditions. Although the Breadfruit tree grows wildly in some West and Central African countries, and its seeds eaten in various forms by the populace, there has not been an attempt to evaluate its nutritive value as prepared at the home level. The goal of this study was, therefore, to evaluate the nutritive value of the seeds as indigenously prepared by the general populace in order to determine the suitability of its use as a good complementary diet. The raw seeds purchased in the Ikenne local government area (LGA) of Ogun State, Nigeria were subjected to cooking and toasting methods (using firewood) as practiced in the area. A proximate analysis was performed on the three samples (Raw, Cooked and Toasted) in order to evaluate the composition and some anti-nutritional factors of the Breadfruit seeds. Results showed that the cooked and toasted samples had better nutritive values as compared with the raw seeds; the mean % protein content of the raw, cooked and toasted samples were 16.32±0.09, 18.25 ±0.00 and 17.22±0.04, respectively. Ash content was 1.36±0.057, 1.86±0.042 and 1.83±0.007, respectively, fat was 10.98±0.071, 11.50±0.134 and 13.74±0.233, respectively and crude fiber was 1.25±0.007, 2.13±0.014 and 2.39±0.064, respectively. The tannin level was higher in cooked and toasted seeds than in the raw seeds but was not in toxic amounts (1.19gm, 3.50 and 2.32 in the raw, cooked and toasted seeds, respectively). Phytate levels were generally lower in the cooked and toasted seeds; at 2.85%, 1.99%, and 2.24% for raw, cooked and toasted seeds, respectively. This study showed that the two major modes of preparation of the African Breadfruit seeds retained high levels of nutrients with lower levels of anti-nutrients. The resulting meal/snack will be useful as a good complementary diet for the African child, especially in areas where it grows wildly as it will provide a more viable alternative to the currently known and consumed weaning diets among the rural population. Toasting the African Breadfruit seed will be particularly helpful for working mothers who require ready to eat food as the moisture content was lowered (and by extension the shelf life increased) by this method of processing.
Keywords: Toasting, Proximate composition, Anti-nutritional factors, African Breadfruit, Complementary diet