Dietary values of wild and semi-wild edible plants in Southern Ethiopia
AbstractEthnobotanical studies have shown that many wild plant species are sporadically consumed alongside regular food sources in developing countries. Many plants of wild and semi-wild origin are consumed in the remote parts of southern Ethiopia. Dietetic values of Ethiopia’s non-crop food plants, though important in prevention of malnutrition and contribution to food security, remains shrouded for lack of chemical information. The chemical composition of popularly used wild edibles in Hamar and Konso (Xonso) of southern Ethiopia was examined. The most preferred 15 semi-wild and wild edible plants were selected using a mix of standard ethnobotanical field methods. Edible parts of target plants were collected with local participants, lyophilized and analyzed for proximate composition, amino acids, minerals and anti-nutritional factors. The wild edibles constituted good amounts of nutrients essential in human diet. Green leafy vegetables (GLVs) gave 1.5-5.8% ether extractives and total mineral composition of 12.5%-25.6%; Ca being highest (1100 - 3419 mg %) and exceptionally high for Justicia ladanoides (6177 mg %). Fe, Mg, Mn and Zn ranged from 11.7-23.14, 175-2049, 3.4-9.9 and 1.2-3.3 mg %, respectively. All GLVs contained ≥20% protein, highest in Coccinia grandis (36.3%). The latter species and Trigonella foenum-graecum yielded high lysine level. Anti-nutrients of concern include phenolics (158-1564 mg %) and tannins (448-2254 mg %) in GLVs and phenolics (1997mg %) and tannins (6314 mg %) in Ximenia caffra fruits. Total oxalates in mg % were high in Amaranthus graecizans (14067), Celosia argentea (12706) and Portulaca quadrifida (10162). Bulk consumption of monotype edible plant part in one meal may lead to nutritional and health impairment. However, traditional processing methods lower most of the anti-nutritionals and their respective risks. New food composition tables that integrate indigenous knowledge and nutritional content of the semi-wild and wild edibles are recommended. Wild edibles can be considered to improve livelihood security and reduce malnutrition in tune with the Millennium Development Goals aimed at reducing poverty and hunger.
Keywords: GLVs, Hamar, Konso, nutrients, anti-nutrients
African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development, Volume 13 No. 2 April 2013
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