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CTA. 2008. Nutritional benefits. Agfax Resource Pack. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57267
Judith Kimiywe, a nutritionist from Kenyatta University, believes that traditional vegetables are an ideal solution for the micronutrient deficiencies that are a common cause of poor health. Leafy vegetables like spider weed, sweet potato and cassava leaves, and other food plants picked from the wild are high in vitamin A, iron, zinc and iodine. Mixing different types of vegetables helps to achieve a good balance of nutrients, which protect the body from many kinds of illness and can help to manage conditions such as diabetes, HIV and TB.
Nutritional benefits of neglected, traditional vegetables Judith Kimiywe Kenyatta University, Kenya Suggested introduction Many African meals now include exotic vegetables like carrot, tomato, onion and cabbage. These are crops that were introduced here and have really taken off. But all over Africa, there are nutritionists, scientists and researchers who are trying to convince us to kick out the carrots, turn down the tomatoes and welcome back indigenous leafy vegetables onto our plates instead. In Kenya no one is more enthusiastic in this message than Judith Kimiywe from Kenyatta University. As Winnie Onyimbo found out when she met her, Dr. Kimiywe?s love of traditional but neglected crops began when she was a very small child. Track 4 In ?When did you discover? Out ? treatment of certain diseases. Duration 6?12? Suggested closing announcement: That was Dr Judith Kimiywe from Kenya explaining to Winnie Onyimbo how traditional leafy vegetables are slowly making their way into our farms, markets and eventually onto our plates. Contact details: Dr Judith Kimiywe Nutritionist, Kenyatta University Department of Foods, Nutrition and Dietetics, P.O Box 43844, Nairobi, Kenya Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.ku.ac.ke Transcript Onyimbo When did you discover that traditional vegetables have special health benefits? Kimiywe I have always known about the benefits of traditional vegetables right from my early childhood when I was exposed to them by my grandparents. And this is because I was a sickly child and we thought the only remedy was to eat certain vegetables which they associated with the healing of some of the elements that I was suffering from, like stomach aches, tonsils and even later in life, ulcers. My background as a nutritionist has actually triggered my interest in the traditional foods as the best source for availing the micronutrient deficiencies which have been with us for a long, long time, particularly of interest are foods that are rich in vitamin A or beta carotene, iron and iodine and zinc, which have featured prominently in our health programmes. Those are some of the things that also triggered my interest in promoting traditional foods which I know have got a high potential for those nutrients. Onyimbo You talked of iodine and you talked of vitamins. How does this help in the body? Kimiywe Well one of the key things about micronutrients is that they provide preventative measure against very many key health conditions that people may suffer from. Onyimbo Give us two examples of out-of-fashion vegetables that are good for us to eat. Kimiywe There is a whole wide range of traditional vegetables but the most common ones that are on the market now are easily available and accessible to people and acceptable for the majority of the people that have had exposure to indigenous vegetables, include vegetables like the spider weed or the sweet potato leaves, cassava leaves and a whole range of other vegetables that are picked from the wild. Onyimbo I have a carrot and a tomato in my hands. What special benefits will I get from the traditional vegetables we have been talking about in comparison to the tomato and the carrot? Kimiywe These ones do not contain the green colour, the green matter which the vegetables have which also carry with it other nutrients that are not necessarily in the carrot and the tomato. Because of the nature of their composition as green leafy vegetables, they are carrying other substances that are also important in contributing towards the health of the individual, in different ways. Green leafy vegetables will contain a higher level of minerals such as iron and calcium and zinc compared to the carrot and the tomato. Onyimbo What is a proper way to cook the underutilised vegetables? I understand you can lose the nutrients by boiling them. How should someone cook them so that you don?t lose any nutrients? Kimiywe We do not want prolonged cooking because too long a period of cooking beyond ten minutes usually interferes with the amount of available nutrients in that vegetable. And particularly if the vegetable is cooked in water and the water is thrown away. So what we are trying to do right now is to come up with recipes, agreeable recipes based on the traditional recipes but a little bit modified in terms of retention of nutrients. The other thing we are building on is the indigenous knowledge of what people used to do with these vegetables. One of the things they used to do was to combine different types of vegetables. And that way they make a mixture of vegetables. Now it is a good thing to do because each vegetable has got its own strength as far as the nutrient content is concerned. The other good thing was that traditionally in some communities they add coconut milk to the vegetables, or they add pounded groundnut powder or sesame powder, and some communities they add avocado pear that is mashed into the vegetables and that helps to enhance the vegetables in two ways. These additives provide a fat medium which is very important for the absorption and utilisation of the vitamin A. Essential fatty acids from the oil-based product are very important for protecting the body, for growth, for the smooth skin, for good eyes and for children for growth generally. These fat mediums are also good carriers of vitamin E, which is a key anti-oxidant in the body. Onyimbo In your opinion do you think these underutilised vegetables or neglected vegetables will be back in fashion? Back on our plates, back in our markets? Kimiywe The promotion of these vegetables has created a very high demand, particularly in this area of going natural. Because of the very many diseases that have come up, cancer, is threatening right now, diabetes is another health condition that has made people look towards using natural foods. Things like TB, HIV/AIDS and many other illnesses, health conditions that have made people go back to use of traditional foods as a way of managing, controlling or preventing these illnesses. Thanks to the traditional medicine people, they are also emphasising the use of these foods when they are giving the remedies for treatment of certain diseases. End of track.