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Thursday, June 25, 2015

NUTRIENT COMPOSITION AND SUSTAINABILITY OF FOUR COMMONLY USED LOCAL COMPLIMENTARY FOODS IN AKWA IBOM STATE, NIGERIA - African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development, Vol. 14, No. 7

It is being called "hidden hunger". The systemic lack of nutrient-rich foods in the diet of over 2 billion people worldwide - with most being within the developing world. Scidev.net, recently, has publicized this chronic issue head-on in their article: "Tapping into local resources to curb malnutrition". 

While it is important that work must be done in order to feed the many hungry people throughout the world, it is just as important to adequately feed them a balanced nutrient-rich meal; not just consisting of protein-heavy foods that give the appearance of a healthy weight [my own opinion added]. 

Andrea Rinaldi - the author - takes on the issue of malnutrition, with emphasis on the use of local resources. She points out that most farmers within the Global South are encouraged to grow foods that are more profitable for the international market, rather than indigenous crops that are high in nutrient value. Accordingly, a focus on planting locally found plants and using age-old techniques, such as the consumption of highly nutritious insects, could help curb this ongoing problem. She goes onto reiterate that the use of these foods is still common amongst "...traditionally oriented" people. 

Adepoju et al., in their journal: "Nutrient Composition and Sustainability of Four Commonly Used Local Complimentary Foods in Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria" and published in the African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development, study the issue of inadequate nutrition more thoroughly. According to the authors, adequate nutrition is of utmost importance during infancy and childhood; where a short period of malnutrition has longstanding effects on growth, development, and overall health in adults. Specifically, the period between 6 months and 2 years of age is crucial for such factors. If a lack of complimentary foods is not provided, long-term ramifications of such inadequacy will - in most circumstances - occur. 

The study was conducted to examine the nutrient composition and suitability of four commonly used complimentary foods in two separate Local Government Areas (LGAs) within Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria. The method used was a descriptive cross-sectional survey involving mothers with children aged 6-24 months old. To avoid any biases within the study, the LGAs were randomly selected to provide accurate information on the commonly used complimentary foods within the regions. A total of 300 mothers aged 18-60 years old, presenting their children for immunisation in the two LGAs, were respondents. A semi-structured questionnaire, that had been pre-tested prior, was used to determine socio-demographic characteristics, knowledge on breastfeeeding, complimentary feeding practices, and types of complimentary foods used in preparation of meals. From this information, standardized samples of four of the most commonly used complimentary foods were analyzed for nutrient and anti-nutrient composition using AOAC methods of analysis.  

Data from the study was then analyzed using descriptive statistics and a Chi square test, with the level of significance set at p= 0.05. The most commonly used complimentary foods used were: two types of unripe banana porridge, one mashed bean porridge, and a type of mixed cereal pap with crayfish and 'turn brown' (soybean, groundnut and crayfish). One hundred gram portions of these foods contained on average between 2.52- 6.70 g of crude protein, 1.26-7.23 g crude lipids, 8.16-13.97 g carbohydrates and yielded up to 415.57 kcal of energy. Measurements of the mineral content were also analyzed: the range was between 31.58-230.40 mg potassium, 46.78-184.68 mg calcium, 55.23-120.93 mg phosphorus, 10.37-23.26 mg iron, 7.53-18.53 mg zinc per 100 gram portions. 
  
Results indicated that the four complimentary foods used by the respondents in this study were nutritionally adequate and were low in anti-nutrients (oxalates, phytates, trypsin inhibitors, saponins and tannins). Therefore, there is little risk of malabsorption of the nutrients. The utilization of unripe banana and mixed cereals with turn brown for infants is recommended. Using this method provides cheap complimentary foods that are adequate in energy and nutrition and promotes biodiversity.  

For this journal and others from this issue, click here.

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