Nutritional value of wild, leafy plants consumed by the Vhavenda
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We investigated the use and nutrient composition of edible wild plants commonly used in Venda. Information on their eating habits was sought from 412 women in the districts of Thohoyandou, Mutale, Dzanani and Vuwani, who were regular consumers of wild, green, leafy vegetables. The ten most commonly used vegetables were identified through a 'grid matrix' test among sixteen randomly selected hawkers selling wild plants in Thohoyandou markets in 1996. The ten plants studied were: delelele mandande, thebe, vowa, mushidzhi, murudi, mutohotoho, delele lupfumo, phuri, nngu, and muxe. Data on plant usage was obtained by means of a questionnaire. Nutritional analysis of the vegetables investigated was conducted by the CSIR. Harvesting was mainly in summer with the surplus stored in either a dried-cooked or dried-raw form for at least six months. Frequency of consumption was once per week per plant with fairly large serving sizes of 180-270 g. Murudi was found to have the highest content of micronutrients, being exceptionally high in folate (418 μg/100 g), vitamin C (37.0 mg/100 g) and betacarotene (9.22 mg/100 g). All the plants examined were good sources of dietary fibre. Vowa, phuri and nngu were also rich sources of vitamin C. Delele mandande was the only poor source of beta-carotene and iron. Health educators should promote the nutritional benefits of wild vegetables in rural communities in order to increase micronutrient intake.
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