EVALUATION OF NUTRACEUTICAL POTENTIALS OF “ATAMA” (HEINSIA CRINATA) AND “UCHAKORO” (VITEX DONIANA) LEAVES
Extracts and powders produced from the leaves of two indigenous vegetables – ‘atama’ (Heinsia crinata) and ‘uchakoro’ (Vitex doniana) were evaluated. Four groups of processes were applied on the vegetables to obtain the samples: blanching, oven drying and milling; oven drying and milling; steam blanching, wet-milling, filtration, and fermentation; fermentation, wet-milling and filtration. After, a preliminary study to evaluate the antinutritional factors at different intervals of blanching and fermentation was carried out, five samples, fresh dried leaf powder (FDPL), blanched (8 mins) dried sample at 500c, fermented (5 days) leaf extract, blanched leaf (10mins)/fermented (5days) extract and blanched (10mins) leaf extract were selected for further studies, fresh leaves (FL) served as control. These were evaluated for proximate composition, mineral, and vitamin contents. Two samples each (fresh dried and blanched extracts) were selected for rat bioassay based on their iron content. Body weights were taken and blood samples collected from the animals on days 0, 14, 18, 21 and 24. Internal organs were weighed at the end of the experiment. The antinutritional studies revealed that blanching, fermentation, and drying reduced alkaloid, phytate, tannin, and oxalate contents of the processed leaf and leaf extracts to a safe level. The proximate analysis showed that the crude protein content of all the samples ranged from 0.02±0.00-17.29±0.01%; crude fibre of the powders ranged from 1.68±0.03-10.15%, ash contents varied from 0.26±0.01-6.55±0.01%, while total carbohydrate varied from 3.61±0.06-65.55±0.33%. The contents of sodium, calcium, and iron in the samples varied from 0.24±0.01-1.29±0.03mg/100g, 11.69±0.01-63.00±0.22,mg/100g and 3.00±0.00-31.26±0.01mg/100g respectively. The vitamin analysis showed that vitamin C ranged from 1.52±0.37-32.98±0.78mg/100g, vitamin E (0.12±0.00-53.31±0.02mg/100g), vitamin B2, (0.01±0.00-9.13±0.00mg/100g) and vitamin A (55.50±0.64-3583.26±4.68µ/mg). The bioassay results showed that all the samples caused a significant increase (p<0.05) in red blood cell (6.42- 7.15 106/µl) and hemoglobin concentration (10.96-15.04 g/dl) in relation to the anemic controls. Body weight evaluation showed that there was significant increase (p<0.05) in weights of all the rat groups fed with the samples at different doses (153.70-177.45g). Relative organ weights of the test rats were observed to show significant differences (p<0.05) among samples for mean liver and kidney weights; and no significant differences (p>0.05) for mean heart and spleen weights respectively. Most of the liver and kidney function tests revealed that the samples did not cause any deleterious effect on the organs. This study has successfully demonstrated that ‘atama’ and ‘uchakoro’ leaves and their extracts have potentials for alleviating anaemia.