Indigenous African foods plants: vehicles of disease or sources of protection?

  • AM Van der Walt School of Environmental Sciences and Development, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
  • KSA Mossanda Department of Clinical Pathology, Medical University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa
  • SD Jivan School of Environmental Sciences and Development, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
  • WJ Swart Department of Plant Pathology, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
  • CC Bezuidenhout School of Environmental Sciences and Development, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
Keywords: Traditional <i>morogo</i>, edible plants, mycological stability, healthprotecting

Abstract

The impact of recurring droughts and endemic poverty-related chronic diseases reduces the ability of poor rural households to cope with the demands of providing health sustaining food for the family. The dietary safety and health-supporting qualities of traditional staples are important factors in consumer health. Because all crops are subject to fungal infestation, mycotoxin contamination of food has become a global problem. Homegrown foods of rural communities are not evaluated for consumer safety, and data pertaining to their health benefits are limited. This study determines the mycological quality of traditional leafy vegetables, commonly referred to as morogo, and investigates the folate content of such crops, as well as the antimutagenic and anticarcinogenic potential of indigenous rooibos tea and other traditional food and medicinal plants. Results showed that a notable number of fungi isolated from morogo belonged to genera with known toxigenic species. Morogo plants were shown to be relatively folate-rich, and varying degrees of antimutagenic and anticarcinogenic activity were demonstrated for extracts from white and black Bambara groundnut, rooibos, cancer bush and devil\'s claw. Possible health-injuring impacts associated with chronic dietary exposure to certain mycotoxins, as well as health-supportive qualities of some functional foods and medicinal plants, are discussed.

Keywords: Traditional morogo, edible plants, mycological stability, healthprotecting qualities

Indilinga: African Journal of Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IAJIKS) Vol. 4(1) 2005: 270-279
Published
2005-12-19
Section
Articles

Journal Identifiers


eISSN: 1683-0296