Iron and protein content of priority African indigenous vegetables in the Lake Victoria Basin
MO Abukutsa-Onyango, P Kavagi, P Amoke, FO Habwe
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African indigenous vegetables have many nutritional and health benefits that have not been well researched and fully exploited. The objective of this study was to determine iron and protein contents of seven priority African indigenous vegetables found in Eastern Africa. The vegetables were planted at two sites, Maseno University, Maseno in western Kenya and Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), Juja in Central Kenya between 2006 and 2008. These vegetables were organically grown and edible parts of each of the vegetable harvested during vegetative growth stages just before onset of flowering and analysed for iron and protein contents. Nightshade and cowpea had high levels of both iron and protein. Pumpkin leaves and amaranths had high iron content while spiderplant and slenderleaf had high protein levels. Both iron and protein levels differed significantly between the seven vegetables at both sites. Nightshade and cowpea contained iron and protein levels that would provide 100% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) iron and 50% of recommended daily allowance protein for optimal human growth and health. These results help to demonstrate the nutritional value of African indigenous vegetables and their potential use in nutrition intervention programs.