This study determined the chemical composition and organoleptic attributes of three selected vegetables consumed in Njikoka local government area, Anambra state, Nigeria. The vegetables used for the study were Ipomea batatas, Portulaca olercea and Corchorus tridens purchased from local market in Enugwu-Ukwu, Njikoka local government area, Anambra State, Nigeria. The vegetables were processed (sun and shade dried). The fresh samples served as the controls. Nine yam dishes based on fresh, sun and shade dried of the vegetables were prepared. The vegetable samples and the dishes were analysed for nutrient and antinutrient contents using modern assay techniques. The results demonstrated that shade and sun drying increased various nutrients. The nutrient values for the dishes were lower than those of the vegetable samples. The sensory evaluations of the dishes were generally accepted by the judges as judged by the results. The nutrient content of these lesser-known vegetables and their dishes are promising. These vegetables and their dishes could upgrade the micronutrient densities of some of our traditional d es based only on popular vegetables that are scarce during dry season.
There are many micronutrient deficiency disease in Njikoka local government area of Anambra state. This is due to low consumption of fruits and vegetables. This was based on the results of Nigeria food consumption and nutrition survey 2001 – 2003. In Nigeria ecosystem, there are variety of fruits and vegetables both cultivated and wild ones.
However, their consumption is inadequate mostly among children within the ages of 3 – 5 years. Besides, these well known vegetables, there are many lesser – known fruits and vegetables that might be very good sources of various micronutrients that have been investigated.
Much interest on nutrient composition, processing and utilization of these lesser- known fruits and vegetables are scarce. In Njikoka local government area of Anambra State, there are many vegetables that are used for preparation of various traditional soups. However, due to poor nutrition
education these vegetables are not utilized. These vegetables are mostly consumed by the poor or low income groups in the community.
According to Tope-Ajayi (2004), proper nutrition provides adequate strength, protection against disease and assist in quick recovery from illnesses. Recent national and local surveys have revealed staggering prevalence of undernourishment among children under 5 years of age. Nearly every child is stunted and one in ten (1:10) is wasted. The common specific nutritional disorders include protein-energy malnutrition (PEM), anaemia due to iron, vitamin A and iodine deficiencies. Nutrient deficiencies that are most common during childhood and adolescence are iron, calcium, zinc and vitamin A. Adequate amount of these minerals and vitamins must be included in the diet (Lucas, 1996).
The information on cultivation, preparation, processing and consumption of these vegetables mostly consumed by the poor or low income groups in the society are rare in Njikoka local government area. It is imperative that these vegetables should be investigated for their seasonality, nutrients, antinutrients and food toxicant composition. The thrust of this work was to study the nutritional qualities of Corchorus tridens (Malvaceae), Portulaca oleracea (Portulacaceae, Purslane) and Ipomea batatas (Sweet potatoes) vegetables used in the area to prepare some traditional dishes consumed during festival and non –festival events.
1.2 Statement of the problem
Micronutrient deficiency disorders such as anaemia, goiter, growth retardation and others are common among children under 5 years of age and pregnant women. Insufficient iron intake is the leading cause of iron deficiency anaemia (Neuman, 1991). Young children and their mothers are often called an (at risk) groups because they frequently develop some health problems. These could be prevented if the parents knew and understood the causes of diseases and ways to avoid it. This will be achieved through nutrition education by nutritionists, dieticians, “home-economists”as well as health practitioners and others (Jelliffe, 1991). Copper is a constituent of a number of enzymes. It is also needed for haemoglobin synthesis. Zinc is found as a metallic complex of a number of enzymes. A deficiency of the zinc in the diet leads to skin lesions and may be a cause of dwarfism, hypogonadism and anaemia. All these nutritional deficiency disorders can be corrected by consumption of adequate diet, especially inclusion of abundant fruits and vegetables in the diets.