The contribution of dark-green leafy vegetables to total micronutrient intake of two- to five-year-old children in a rural setting
This study determined the contribution of dark-green leafy vegetables (DGLV) to total micronutrient intake of two- to fiveyear- old children residing in two neighbouring rural villages in KwaZulu-Natal where production and consumption of these vegetables were promoted. A repeated cross-sectional study that included five repeated 24 h dietary recalls per study period was done during February (n=79), May (n=74), August (n=75) and November (n=78) of 2005 by interviewing the caregivers. Consumption of spinach (mostly Swiss chard) and imifino (a collective term for various dark-green leaves) complemented each other, with imifino being consumed mostly during the first and last quarter of the year, and spinach (mostly Swiss chard) during the 3rd quarter. The proportion of children who consumed DGLV during the 5 d recall period ranged from 36% (May survey) to 86% (February survey), and the average number of times that children consumed it ranged from 1.4 (May survey) to 2.2 (February survey). The average portion size consumed was approximately ½ cup (87 ± 56 g for spinach; 87 ± 38 g for imifino). For children consuming DGLV, these vegetables contributed significantly to dietary intake of calcium (21 to 39% of total intake), iron (19 to 39%), vitamin A (42 to 68%) and riboflavin (9 to 22%).
In conclusion, DGLV made a significant contribution towards total nutrient intake of the children for several of the micronutrients. This contribution can potentially be increased should these vegetables be consumed more frequently and by a larger proportion of the children.
Keywords: dark-green leafy vegetables, dietary intake, micronutrients, children, rural, South Africa