Nutritional value of selected wild edible plants in Teso-Karamoja Region, Uganda
The use of wild plants for food in the rural communities of Uganda is widespread. This is attributed to food scarcity, perceived nutritional value, medicinal and health benefits and cultural preservation. However, the claims on the nutritional value of some wild edible plant species have not been fully validated. In cognizance of this, the macroelement, beta-carotene and ascorbic acid profile of five wild plants commonly used for food in and around eight forest reserves of Teso-Karamoja region, Uganda, were analysed. The plants prioritized for analysis were Vigna kirkii (Baker) J.B. Gillett, Maerua angolensis D.C., Leptadenia hastata (Schumach. & Thonn.) Decne, Senna obtusifolia (L.) H.S. Irwin & Barneby and Dioscorea sp.). The macro-element, ascorbic acid and beta-carotene composition of these plants was analyzed in triplicate. The variance in parameter means was analysed using one-way Analysis of Variance in SPSS ver. 16.0. The results showed that all the means of species were significantly different at the p=0.05 level. The highest macro-nutrient means were 80.74±0.34 %/100 g moisture content in V. kirkii, 3.95±0.23 g/100 g ash content in M. angolensis, 19.04±0.37 Kcal gross energy in M. angolensis, 27.93±0.85 g/100 g dietary fibre in L. hastata, 3.40±0.13 g/100 g crude fat in L. hastata, 65.43±2.91 g/100 g carbohydrate in Dioscorea sp., 36.37±0.42 g/100 g crude protein in M. angolensis. The highest ascorbic acid mean was 14.71±3.56 mg/100 g in M. angolensis while beta-carotene was 1082.1±0.08 μg/100 g in S. obtusifolia. These results show that these wild edible plants have a significantly variable nutritional value. Some of the macro elements can sufficiently meet the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) and Adequate Intakes (AI) for certain life stages and groups if consumed in ideal quantities. This information is vital in enhancing food and nutrition security awareness in the community and uplifting the social appeal and acceptability of these plants. This can be enhanced by investigating the micro-nutrients of public health significance, anti-nutrient factors, and toxic compounds in these plants.
Key words: Nutritional value, wild edible plants, macro-nutrient, ascorbic acid, betacarotene,Teso-Karamoja, Uganda
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