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.
The general objective of the study was to identify some lesser-known vegetables and determine chemical composition and organoleptic attributes of the dishes based on them as consumed in Njikoka local government area, Anambra State, Nigeria.
The specific objectives of the study were to:
- identify these vegetables and the reasons they are sparingly utilized.
- process these vegetables and determine their nutrient composition and the acceptance of the yam dishes prepared with the vegetables.
- Determine antinutrients content of these vegetables and dishes
- Significance of the study
This study will be very important to reduce malnutrition especially with the increasing need to educate the public on the need to prevent micronutrient deficiency disorders. These disorders could be prevented through production, preparation and consumption of adequate diets containing plentiful fruits and vegetables.
The results of the study will provide data base to eliminate or reduce to the barest minimum the problems of micronutrient deficiency disorders, especially in Njikoka local government area. The results would be good tools for nutrition educators, clinical nutritionists and dieticians to educate and counsel mothers in government hospitals. Community nutritionists and home economic extension workers would use the information to train housewives who prepare different dishes with locally available vegetables and other staples would find the results useful by learning better methods to produce, prepare and consume these foods. Doctors and nurses would benefit from this study because the results would enable them to offer advice and counseling to their clients who have micronutrient deficiency disorders. Mothers would utilise these vegetables much more effectively in their homes. They will cultivate these vegetables in gardens around their houses for use in family menu.
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