REVIEWING THE NUTRITIONAL AND PHARMACOLOGICAL IMPORTANCE IN COMMON VEGETABLES IN NIGERIA.
Vegetables are edible parts of plant that are consumed wholly or in parts, raw or cooked as part of main dish or salad. They include leaves, stems, roots, flowers, seeds, fruits, bulbs, tubers and fungi (Asaolu and Asaolu, 2010). Vegetables are made up of chiefly cellulose, hemi cellulose and pectin substances that give them their structures and firmness (Mohammed and Sharif, 2011). They are good sources of oil, carbohydrate, minerals and vitamins depending on the vegetables consumed (Mepba et al., 2007).
Leafy vegetables are important items of diet in many Nigerian homes because of the presence of vitamin and mineral elements (Mohammed and Sharif, 2011) They are valuable sources of nutrients especially in rural areas where they contribute substantially to protein, minerals, vitamins, fibres and other nutrients which are usually in short supply in daily diet (Anjorin et al., 2010). It is worthwhile to note that consumption of numerous types of edible vegetable are sources of food, that could be beneficial to nutritionally marginalized population especially in developing countries, where poverty and climate is causing havoc to common rural people. Asaolu et al., (2012) reported that in many developing countries, the mineral intake is inadequate to meet the nutrient requirements of the rapidly growing population, and that minerals cannot be synthesized by the human body and must be provided by plants (through dietary means). Sobukola et al., (2007) described leafy vegetables as very important protective foods and useful for health maintenance, prevention and treatment of various diseases. Ononugbo, (2002) also reported that vegetable fats and oil lower blood lipid thereby reducing the occurrence of coronary artery diseases which can damage the heart.
Vitamins and minerals are essential and their deficiency result in impairment of biological functions. Micronutrient deficiency also increase risk of overall mortality that are associated with a variety of adverse health effects, including poor intellectual development and cognition, decreased immunity, and impaired work capacity (Mohammed and Sharif, 2011). In Nigeria leafy vegetables are relatively available and affordable particularly during raining season but are found to be among the least consumed foods due to the ignorance of their nutrients composition (Orech et al., 2005). A study reported, adult per capital consumption of vegetable to be 59g/day during the months of July-October in Nigeria (Hart et al., 2005). WHO, (2003) recommended individuals to consume 400g or more of fruits and vegetables per day to protect against none communicable diseases such as, obesity and cardiovascular diseases.
1.1 Statement of Research Problem
In Nigeria, leafy vegetables are relatively available and affordable particularly during the raining season but are found among the least consumed food due to ignorance of their nutrient composition and uses, (Orech et al., 2005).
In many developing countries the supply of mineral intake is inadequate to meet the actual nutrient requirements of rapidly growing population and that, these minerals cannot be synthesized by human body and must be provided by plant vegetables (Mepba et al., (2007).
Most available food composition tables and databases do not hold information on all of the lesser consumed vegetables, thus giving unrepresentative actual nutrient intake estimation in Nigeria. Although a number of studies have documented the diversity of plant vegetable usage including their seasonal importance in the southern part of Nigeria, (Okafor, 1991; Oguntona et al.,1998; Hart et al., 2005), none have, however, been able to undertake an in depth study of the actual nutritional composition of lesser consumed vegetables in the northern part of Nigeria
Data collection on the nutrient composition of lesser consumed leafy vegetables becomes important, because it will serve as a source of enriching existing food composition tables and databases.
Information obtained at the end of this study would enrich the scanty information available about the nutrient composition of lesser consumed vegetables in Kaduna State.
This research will also provide more data on choice of vegetable with regards to the management of some nutrition related diseases. Increased information on the nutrient composition of lesser consumed vegetables will encourage their use in food other than accompanying sauce. It will also ensure the usage of vegetable at least twice daily, thus increasing the opportunities for their consumption and preventions of
micronutrients deficiency at all stages of life (Orech et al., 20005).
1.3 Aim and Objectives of the Study
The aim of the study is to determine the nutrient composition of processed and unprocessed lesser known consumed vegetables in Kaduna state.
- To identify lesser known consumed vegetables in Kaduna State.
- To determine methods of processing and consumption pattern of the lesser known consumed vegetables in Kaduna state
- To evaluate and compare the proximate and some micronutrient (minerals and vitamins) composition of processed and unprocessed lesser known consumed vegetables.
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