Potentials of underexploited seed of Trichosanthes cucumerina Linn
The cultivation and usage of Trichosanthes cucumerina have declined with time, especially in Nigeria. The study evaluated the nutritional and anti-nutritional composition of T. cucumerina seeds. Standard procedures were followed in the determination of the bioactive compounds (proximate composition, vitamins, amino acids and phytochemicals) and mineral elements. Waters 616/626 Liquid chromatography (HPLC) was used in quantifying some of the bioactive compounds while atomic absorption spectrophotometer (AAS). The proximate composition of T. cucumerina seed revealed thus: carbohydrate (37.08%), protein (32.80%), lipid (5.69%), crude fibre (5.42%), ash (7.27%) and moisture content (11.73%). The fat-soluble vitamins (60.37%) were more in the T. cucumerina seeds than water-soluble vitamins (39.63%). Twenty amino acids (essential and non-essential) were detected with threonine (13.09%) been the most abundant and tryptophane (1.32%) amino acids out of the total amino acid. The study showed that the seed contains phytochemicals (oxalate, tannin, saponin, phytate, trypsin-inhibitor, hydrogen cyanide, flavonoids, alkaloids, phenolics and glycosides) with varying concentrations. Also, T. cucumerina seed contains different proportions of mineral elements (Mg, Cu, Mn, K, Zn, Ca, Na, N, P, Sn, Pb, Cd, Se, Cr, Co, Ni, As, Hg, Ag and Fe). The study has shown that the underexploited or neglected seeds of T. cucumerina has nutritional and anti-nutritional properties. Hence, the cultivation of T. cucmerina should be encouraged and the potentials harness to tackle some of the health challenges faced by human, thereby preventing T. cucumerina from going into extinction.
Keywords: Minerals, neglected plant, nutritional composition, phytochemicals.