The thrust of this work was to identify some popular and lesser-known cultivated and forest green leafy vegetables consumed in Igbo-ukwu, Aguata LGA, Anambra State, Nigeria. Those identified include ugbogulu, eliemionu, ariraa, okpa okuku, ugu oyibo and abuba ji nwannu, used in this study. These vegetables were purchased in bulk from Igboukwu daily market, cleaned and divided into 3 portions. Fresh portions served as the controls. The sun and the shade dried samples were the processed portions.
These cleaned vegetables and their products were analysed for various nutrients, anti-nutrients and food toxicants using standard methods. Both nutrient contents of the vegetables and their dishes as well as the organoleptic attributes of the dishes were ascertained. The data generated from both the vegetable and their yam dishes were analysed using percentages, means, standard deviation and the standard error of the mean. New multiple Duncan’s studentized range test was applied to separate and compare means.
Ugbogulu, ( Curcubita pepo), ariraa. ( Corchorus trideus tiliaceae) eliemionu. (Celosia argentea), ugu oyibo. (Jatropha aconitisolia), okpa okuku (Uvarae chamae) and abuba ji nwannu ( Ipomoea batatas) were identified by Igbo-ukwu women as wild and cultivated edible vegetables. Both parents and grandparents form major sources of information about cultivation, harvesting, processing, preparation and utilization of yam dishes based on these vegetables. These vegetable are on the verge of extinction due to poor nutrition education, migration of youths and young adults, seasonality, change in lifestyles, nutrition transition and food habits. Sun and shade drying increased many nutrients such as protein from 10.70 to 19.40%. These processes also increased some micronutrients. Iodine, copper, and calcuium increased from traces to 5.08 and 4.43mg; 0.2 to 2.4 and 1.7mg; from 0.2 to 11.5 and 22.00mg, respectively.
These processes increased phytate, oxalate, tannins and saponins from 0.00mg to 125.58 and 116.5mg; traces to 135.50mg and 112.3mg; traces to 0.15 and 0.16mg and from traces to 0.05 and 0.05mg, respectively.
The yam dishes prepared with fresh, sun and shade dried, as well as pulverized vegetables had increased protein from 5.4 in A-102 –yam dish prepared with sun dried ugu oyibo to 12.6% in A-101 –yam dish prepared with shade dried and ash from 4.6 in in A-103- yam dish prepared with shade dried okpa okuko to 9.50% in A-105-yam dish prepared with fresh sweet potato.. These dishes had traces of phytate, oxalate, tannins and saponins. However, dish prepared with sun dried ugu oyibo leaves had increases in phytate oxalate, tannins and saponins and food toxicants from (traces to 1.21,4.34,16.6 and 14.5g, respectively).
Iron, zinc, copper and calcium in these dishes increased. Iron increased from 3.5 to 33.5mg, zinc from traces to 4.2mg, copper from traces mg to 1.4mg and calcium from 2.00 to 25.50mg, respectively. The dishes prepared with fermented oil bean seeds, fresh okpa okuku leaves and fresh sweet potato leaves had increases in beta-carotene that ranged from traces to 52.00, 25.3 and 24.9mg each.
The dishes prepared with fresh
sweet potato leaves and that prepared with fresh ugu oyibo leaves had the best
organoleptic attributes and general acceptability. (7.5 and 7.3, respectively).
1.1 Background information
Inadequate food and nutrient intake, improper feeding practices, poor nutrition education, insufficient food availability at household level, domestic processing techniques and food preparation methods are among the major causes of malnutrition (NDHS, 1990). Nutrition and nutrition-related diseases continue to be a problem of public health significance in Nigeria.
Several efforts are in place to reduce malnutrition. These efforts amongst others are studies undertaken in Nigeria to assess the prevalence of malnutrition in the target population.
Some of these studies were the Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS, 1990), the Participatory Information Collection study (PIC, 1993), the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS, 1995), the Benchmark Survey (1996) and the most recent, National Food Consumption and Nutrition Survey (NFCNS) (IITA, 2004) among others.
These studies over the years established high prevalence of protein-energy malnutrition (PEM), especially in children 0-5 and pre-school (IITA, 2004). PEM contributes to as much as 52% of all deaths (Micro Nutrient Initiative, 2004).
National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS,1990 ) reported 43% stunting among children under five, the UNICEF/OAU Participatory Information Collection study (PIC, 1993) reported 52% stunting, 9% wasting and 36% underweight among children of the same age group.
UNICEF (2004) estimated that approximately one out of three of the children younger than five years are chronically malnourished. They are trapped early in life pattern of ill health and poor development.
It is widely accepted that PEM is associated with a number of micronutrient deficiencies. Micronutrient deficiencies, for example iron deficiency anaemia (IDA), Iodine deficiency disorders (IDD), Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) are also common and contribute to poor physical, emotional and mental development of children as well as reduction in productivity and decreased efficiency in adults, especially mothers.
The UNICEF (1993) study reported that 35% of mothers and 29% of children were anaemic, 7.3% of mothers and 9.2% of children were Vitamin A deficient.
The National Micronutrient Survey (1993) reported even higher figures – 62% women and 75% children were anaemic and 1 out of every 3 children was Vitamin A deficient.
The results of Nigeria Food Consumption and Nutrition Survey (IITA, 2004) showed that despite the advances made over the years in agriculture, research and production, 29.5% of children under 5 were suffering from Vitamin A deficiency, 13.1% of mothers and 19.2% of pregnant women at national level were considered at risk of Vitamin A deficiency, respectively.
About 27.5% of children under 5 were at different stages of iron deficiency. Approximately, 24.3% of mothers and 35.5% of pregnant women were at different stages of iron deficiency
Zinc is now recognized as an essential micronutrient critical in human nutrition (UNICEF, 2002). The clinical syndromes associated with zinc deficiency include growth retardation, male hypogonadism, skin changes, mental lethargy, hepatosenomegaly, iron deficiency anaemia and geophagia (WHO/UNICEF, 2002).
Apart from low zinc levels due to rapid growth, pregnancy and lactation cause zinc deficiency if these increased needs are not met.
At the national level 20% of children under 5 are zinc deficient. Zinc deficiency was highest in pregnant women (43.8%). More than one-quarter (28.1%) of the mothers were zinc deficient.
What these data show is that in spite of all efforts aimed at improving the nutritional status of children and women, prevalence rates of nutritional deficiencies are on the increase and remain unacceptably high. The consequences of malnutrition include childhood morbidity and mortality, poor physical and mental development, poor school performance and reduced adult size with reduced capacity for physical work (WHO, 1995).
If no action is taken, these conditions would spell enormous consequences for national productivity, economic growth and human development (IITA, 2004).
Anambra state shares a common border with Imo state where the survey work was done. This recent Nigeria food consumption and nutrition survey (IITA, 2004) was not conducted in Anambra state. There is limited documented evidence concerning micronutrient status of the members of the communities in Anambra. The result of the survey in the neighbouring/adjoining states, Imo and Akwa Ibom, showed some pockets of micronutrient deficiencies. These deficiencies are not restricted to only these states. Anambra community has almost common culture and food habits with these states where the study was conducted.
Besides, clinical signs observed during the community Health, Profile, Participatory learning and action seminars/health observational tour (NPHCDA, 2005) in some wards of Aguata LGA showed that there are clinical signs of malnutrition, especially those of micronutrients. This development is surprising because the people of Aguata LGA particularly cherish vegetables, which are the richest plant sources of micronutrients in almost all dishes for eye appeal most importantly and to a lesser extent for their nutrient concentrations.
Micronutrient deficiencies are global issues. They require fundamental approach such as assessment of people’s traditional meals. This will ascertain the nutrient contents of various foods to plan adequate intervention strategies to virtually eliminate malnutrition.
Identification of the commonly, traditionally and culturally accepted consumed foods to determine their nutrient levels is imperative. It is also necessary to determine the factors that affect consumption such as poor nutrition education, seasonal variation and processing and preparation methods.
The identification of some lesser-known vegetables (“Okpa-okuko”, “ugu oyibo” and sweet potato leaves) readily available and rich in micronutrients is considered important for dietary diversification and to ensure that they are not extinct. “Ugbogulu”, “eliamionu” and “arira” leaves are among the other more commonly consumed vegetables.
Any domestic food processing methods to preserve and retain both macro and micro-nutrients of these vegetables would go a long way to reduce micronutrient deficiencies and be valuable in Igbo-Ukwu and Nigeria in general. Sun and shade-drying are among the domestic food processing methods shown to preserve and retain nutrients in seasonal green vegetables (Udofia, 2005; Wachap, 2005). The thrust of this study is to select both known and lesser-known seasonal green leafy vegetables, sun and shade-dry and pulverize them, prepare dishes and determine their nutrient content as consumed.