PHYTOCHEMICAL AND NUTRITIVE COMPOSITION OF FLUTED PUMPKIN
The paper discussed the nutritive value and phytochemical contents of fluted pumpkin (Telfaria occidentalis HOOK F) vegetable grown with four levels of organic manure (turkey dropping). The effects of four levels of organic manue (0,100, 150 and 200kg/ha) on the vegetable were examined. The proximate composition, minerals, vitamins and the phytochemical contents of the vegetable were determined at six and eight weeks after planting (WAP). The results showed that moisture, crude protein, fat and ash content as well as vegetable yield increased while crude fiber, carbohydrates and food energy decreased significantly with increasing levels of manure application. Most of the proximate components are at their best at 150kg/ha. All the considered vitamins and major minerals were also found to have increased significantly with the increasing levels of manure application. Among the phytochemical contents considered flavournoids and saponins increased while alkaloid and phenols decreased significantly with increasing levels of manure application. The proximate compositions minerals, vitamins and phytochemical contents increased with level of manure application and have their peaks at 150kg/ha. Application of organic manure (Turkey droppings) up to 150kg/ha has been recommended, among others to increase the nutritive and phytochemical contents of the fluted pumpkin (Telfaria and occidentialis) vegetable in Southern Nigeria agro-chemical zone.
Cucurbita (Pumpkin) is one of the underutilized crops which belong to the family, cucu-bitacene. Its existence is presently been threatened due to neglect in Nigeria. Pumpkin is cultivated in Nigeria in subsistence level with virtually no commercial importance role in traditional setting as a cover crop and used control agent (DELAHAUT AND NEWENHOUSE 2006). In Nigeria, it is a traditional crop grown mainly for its leaves, fruits and seeds and consumed either by boding the leaves and fruits, or by roasting or baking the seeds (FACCIOLA 1990). The leaves, fruits, flowers and seeds are used as medicine in some developed world. The leaves are haematinic, analyzed and also used externally for treating burns. Traditionally, dyspepsin and stomach disorders (SENTU AND DEBJANI 2007). Pumpkin fruit is an excellent source of vitamin A which the body needs for proper growth, healthy eyes and protection from diseases. It is also rich in vitamin C, vitamin E, lycopene and dietary fiber (PRATT AND MATERIALS 2003; WARD 2007).
In Africa, traditional vegetables are an important source of nutrients and vitamins for the rural population, as many nutritional studies have shown (MNZAVA ET AL 1999; MOSHAND GAGA 1999).
Farmers have cultivated and collected these vegetables for generations as an additional food source. Natural selection and farmer based breeding practices have developed the genetic base of the most important vegetables like pumpkin. In recent decades, there has been formal research by national agricultural research programmes and international research organizations on cultivation methods of the vegetables to improve their yield (MNZAVA ET AL 1999). African leafy vegetables are increasingly recognized as possible contributions of both micronutrients and bio-active compounds to the diets of population in Africa. Available data on the more commonly consumed varieties point to antioxidants containing leafy vegetables that can also provide significant amounts of beta carotene, iron, calcium and zinc to daily diets (SMITH AND EYAGUIRRE 2007).
The difference between the world’s supply of quality foods and the growth of the global population continues to widen and ways and means of bridging this gap have become a matter requiring an urgent attention. The current surge in the search for nutritious foods is therefore not surprising. The ultimate has not been achieved and this is evidenced by the paucity of literature available on the subject. Several plants exist with very high nutritive value and yet remain unexploited for human and animal benefits (OLADELE AND OSHODI 2007). Although extensive research efforts have been made on the nutritional composition of cucurbita, the proximate composition, phychemical properties and mineral contents of Nigerian cucurbita species have not been comprehensively analyzed.
However, in Nigeria, the populace are unaware of the high nutritional and nutracentual values of cucurbita rather it is regarded as traditional food mainly for the low in care earners,thus has not benefited from the same level of research attention given to other vegetables crops like cucumber, fluted pumpkin etc. This has created an information gap that may have discouraged high income earners and urban dwellers from making this crop a part of their diet. In order to ascertain the nutritive value of the crop species and thereby stimulate interest in its utilization beyond the traditional localities, this study was designed to evaluate the nutritional value of the Nigerian pumpkin fruits.