Micronutrient bioaccessibility in food products developed from biofortified cassava and Amaranth leaves.

Project: PhD

Project Details


Micronutrient deficiencies (vitamin A, iron and zinc), otherwise known as hidden hunger, is a public health challenge affecting about 2 billion people worldwide, particularly in low and middle income (LMICs) countries of Africa, Asia and South America. Hidden hunger in these regions is attributed to low consumption of micronutrient-rich diets such as vegetables and a heavy dependence on mainly starchy staple foods such as cassava, rice and maize. Cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) is the 4th most important staple in the world and a food security crop, especially in sub-Saharan Africa where the average intake is about 80 kg of cassava per year person. It is energy-dense, abundant and affordable to low-income consumers. However, cassava is low in protein and micronutrients while the bitter varieties contain high amounts (>100 mg/kg) of cyanogenic glycosides. As a means of alleviating micronutrient deficiencies, the yellow-fleshed provitamin A biofortified cassava variety (yellow cassava) was introduced into sub-Saharan Africa by researchers. Yellow cassava is also gluten-free, contains up to 15 µg/g beta carotene and a lower level of cyanogenic glycosides (< 50 mg/kg) than the white variety. It can thus be utilised as a gluten-free wheat replacement in several food products. However, due to post-processing degradation, retention of beta-carotene may vary from 10 - 80 % in cassava products thus lowering the nutritional value. This study thus focused on food-to-food fortification of yellow cassava food products using African leafy vegetables as an additional nutritional strategy to enhance the micronutrient content profile of yellow cassava foods. To this end, a well-consumed, affordable and fast-growing food product in sub-Saharan Africa, pasta, is developed. Pasta is an ideal vehicle for the intake of nutrients and is well-suited for the incorporation of micronutrient-rich ingredients. One of the most recently studied ingredients for food fortification is the African leafy vegetables. These vegetables are rich in micronutrients, particularly vitamin A, iron and zinc. Two of the most preferred and widely cultivated leafy vegetables in sub-Saharan Africa especially Nigeria are amaranth (Amaranthus cruentus) and fluted pumpkin (Telfairia occidentalis). Fortification of cassava pasta products with leafy vegetables can improve the pasta’s nutritional composition, lower the glycemic index and also alter the pasta quality attributes such as texture, colour and functional properties. Additionally, the insoluble dietary fibre of the leafy vegetables can also create a network to delay starch hydrolysis while the polyphenols in the vegetables can reduce amylase activity thus slowing down starch digestion. This study is thus expected to provide the consumers with nutritious and affordable food for improved health status.
Effective start/end date1/04/1920/05/22


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