Tag Archives: nutrition

Wild Leafy Vegetables Used by Meitei, Naga, Kuki, and Pangal People of Manipur, Northeast India

Share

Assessment of wild leafy vegetables traditionally consumed by the ethnic communities of Manipur, northeast India

Konsam S, Thongam B, Handique AK
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2016 Jan 29;12:9
PubMed Central: PMC4731935

Investigators from the Institute of Bioresources and Sustainable Development and Gauhati University conducted surveys at markets throughout the state of Manipur in northeastern India to document wild edible vegetables being used by indigenous communities for nutritive and therapeutic purposes.

About the study area:

Manipur in Northeastern India
Manipur in Northeastern India [Map: By Filpro (File:India grey.svg) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons]

“…Manipur, one of the seven states of Northeast India that forms an integral part of the Indo-Burma biodiversity hotspot… is rich in both cultural and biological diversity, having populated by diverse ethnic, linguistic and religious groups including many indigenous tribes. Racially, Manipuri people are unique and have features similar to Southeast Asian. The state has four major ethnic communities – Meitei (Hindu), Naga and Kuki (Tribal communities) and Pangal (Muslim). The Meiteis are the dominant non-tribal community constituting 92% of the valley area along with the Pangal (minority group), and the five hill districts are inhabited by about 34 ethnic tribes representing 30% of the state population. They practice distinct culture and tradition and have different socio-economic features. Agriculture is the single largest occupation in Manipur and the mainstay of the state’s economy. The trade of wild vegetables provides an alternative source of income and is mainly done by women. Forests account for 67% of the total land area of this state. The tribal communities collect a large variety of edible and other useful plants from the forest and surrounding wasteland. They also sell a large variety of such plants in the local market.

Ima Keithel
Ima Keithel [Photo: By PP Yoonus (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons]
The famous “Ima Keithel” (meaning “Mother’s market”) of Manipur which sells vegetables and other household items are exclusively run and controlled by women signifying their role in the society both socio-cultural and economically.”

Through interviews with indigenous plant collectors and sellers, the team documented 68 wild edible vegetables used for nutritive and therapeutic purposes, which they then assessed regarding proper exploitation, conservation, and sustainable management.

Zanthoxylum budrunga
Zanthoxylum budrunga [Photo: By Basu, Baman Das; Kirtikar, Kanhoba Ranchoddas [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0) or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons]
Among the most widely used species were Euryale ferox, Chimonobambusa callosa, Ipomoea aquatica, Oenanthe javanica, Alocasia cucullata, Neptunia oleracea, Houttuynia cordata, Hedychium coronarium, Alpinia nigra, Amomum aromaticum, Eryngium foetidum, Passiflora edulis, Ficus benghalensis, and Zanthoxylum budrunga. Several species were found to be consumed mainly by the tribal communities and rarely known to other communities. These included Z. budrunga, P. edulis, Clerodendrum colebrookianum, Spilanthes paniculata, Cissus javanica, Elatostema lineolatum, Plantago erosa, Litsea cubeba, Zehneria scabra, Cyclanthera pedata, Piper pedicellatum, Solanum nigrum, Eurya acuminate, Solanum betaceum, Allium chinense, Heteropanax sp., Dysoxylum gobara, Diplanzium esculantum, Etlingera linguiformis, Derris wallichii, and Phrynium placentarium.

The authors note:

“Many more such unexplored leafy vegetables are believed to exist. There is a need for exploitation of such unexplored resources given the storehouse of traditional knowledge the tribal possessed. It will provide a way for screening newer and alternative source of nutrition.

“The present finding will be useful in the evaluation of nutritional components of high priority species for their integration into the agricultural system based on nutritive values. Further, assessing their cultivable potential and working towards developing agro-techniques can bring more potential species under domestication for conservation through sustainable use. Moreover, it will also help to understand their role in future food and nutritional security of the state. Therefore, documentation and prioritization would ensure that the highest priority species is preserved for use in crop improvement programs and contribute towards achieving the goal of food and nutritional security.”

This study – the first integrated assessment of wild leafy vegetables to be done in the region – provides a methodology to help select and preserve high-priority species for new alternative sources of nutrition.

“According to the integrated assessment, 57 out of 68 (84%) species have good to high value. These high scoring species exhibit the traits of high-quality vegetables, such as taste, appropriate edible parts, multiple edible parts, availability, abundance, easily cultivable, simple to collect and process, and so on. To increase dietary diversity and livelihood sustenance of local people, complimentary studies and further ethnobotanical studies will be conducted. The traditional knowledge and understanding of wild food plants may serve as baseline data for future research and development activities and further biotechnological intervention. A detailed evaluation of nutritional components of the potential species should be conducted for integration into the agricultural system based on their nutritive values and for the conservation of elite germplasm. Further studies should also be done to assess their cultivable potential and work towards developing propagation and agro-techniques to bring more potential wild species under domestication for sustainable utilization of natural resources. Furthermore, proper value chain development for marketing and value-addition of selected species can facilitate enough income to native communities. Documentation and conservation of highest priority species would ensure they are available for use in genetic improvements of crop species as a contribution towards food and nutritional security. Therefore, communities should engage in sustainable management and preservation of traditional knowledge of these multi-valued resources for the well-being local communities.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.




Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Folk Knowledge of Wild Food Plants in Thakht-e-Sulaiman Hills, Pakistan

Share

Folk knowledge of wild food plants among the tribal communities of Thakht-e-Sulaiman Hills, North-West Pakistan

Ahmad K, Pieroni A
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2016 Apr 8;12:17
PubMed Central: PMC4826518

Investigators from COMSATS Institute of Information Technology and the University of Gastronomic Sciences conducted an ethnobotanical study to document traditional knowledge of wild food plants among indigenous communities of the Thakht-e-Sulaiman hills in the North-West tribal belt of Pakistan.

The authors note both the importance of traditional knowledge of wild food plants for people in the region and factors putting that knowledge in danger:

“In spite of their great importance, [wild food plants] are vanishing from traditional diets, which poses serious concerns due to their role and contribution in the cultural history of a region as well as their nutraceutical value. In the developing world these plants are regularly ignored in governmental policies, agricultural research and extension programs. Over the past decade, the majority of tribal communities on the north-western boarder of Pakistan have been affected by the ‘war on terror’, which has destabilized their traditional knowledge systems. The present research area is semi-arid and mountainous with deficient agricultural land. The people live in extreme poverty with widespread food insecurity. They are also not considered in government developmental policies.”

Amaranthus spinosus
Amaranthus spinosus [Photo: Forest & Kim Starr, Wikimedia Commons]
Working with 72 informants from 10 different villages, the team documented 51 species used as wild food plants, including fruits, vegetables, and teas. The most highly cited species were Olea ferruginia, Amaranthus spinosus, and Ficus palmata.

The authors recommend a program of sustainable harvesting, domestication, and marketing to conserve both the wild food plants and local knowledge about their uses:

“In addition to food value, the supplementary qualities of [wild food plants] such as medicinal potential, cultural uses, marketing and storage make them more important in the local culture but also predispose them to extensive exploitation. There is a large potential for the harvesting, domestication and marketing of [wild food plants] in the area, and if done properly, they could be a source of cash income for locals. The wild relatives of the domesticated food species could help increase genetic diversity for crop improvement and yield, thus addressing the present demand of human food security. The ongoing process of domestication of wild species in the area is of the utmost importance not only for the interests of local communities but also for global food diversification.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Wild Plant Species Used for Food in Regional Parks of Sicily

Share

A survey of wild plant species for food use in Sicily (Italy) – results of a 3-year study in four Regional Parks

Licata M, Tuttolomondo T, Leto C, et al.
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2016 Feb 9;12(1):12
PubMed PMID: 26860327
Parco Naturale Regionale delle Madonie
Parco Naturale Regionale delle Madonie (Source: Martin Teetz, Wikimedia Commons)

Investigators at Università degli Studi di Palermo conducted a study of traditional knowledge on food use of wild plant species in four regional parks of Sicily: Parco Naturale Regionale delle Madonie, Parco Naturale dei Nebrodi, Parco dell’Etna, and Parco dei monti Sicani.

Cichorium intybus
Cichorium intybus (Source: Prof. Dr. Otto Wilhelm Thomé Flora von Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz 1885, Gera, Germany, Wikimedia Commons)

The team conducted interviews with 802 people over the age of 60, who had spent their entire lives in the area and who were or had been traditional farmers. The study documented 119 wild plant species for food purposes, including Cichorium intybus, Foeniculum vulgare, Borago officinalis, and Asparagus acutifolius. Sixty-four of the species were indicated as also having medicinal properties.

The authors note an increasing importance of wild food plants as part of the Mediterranean diet:

“In an effort to highlight the importance of wild plant species in our diets, a number of studies have been carried out in recent years in the Mediterranean area documenting the nutritional and medicinal properties of these plants. Compared to cultivated a number of wild plant species have been reported to contain greater levels of fiber, to have far greater antioxidant and flavonoid levels and to contain a smaller amount of lipids. A number of studies maintain that the carbohydrate, fibre, polyphenol, protein, mineral, vitamin and ω-3 fatty acid content of various parts of the wild plants can have beneficial effects on human health. This reinforces the concept of food as medicinal, first expressed by [Hippocrates] in 400 BC. The well-documented health properties of wild food plants have also contributed to increasing their importance as a part of the Mediterranean diet.”

In their conclusion, the authors recommend further research, and urge protection of these native genetic resources and the culinary traditions linked to them:

“In terms of agriculture, it is important to highlight that given the fact that only very few of the wild plants mentioned can/could be cultivated in kitchen gardens and/or crop fields, further agronomic research on these few species is essential in order to improve knowledge on their main cultivation techniques. An important result of the research is the fact that most of the wild plants are perceived as highly useful for food/medicinal purposes and this is due to the health effects of the wild plants as reported by the informants. The protection of the native genetic resources and the culinary traditions linked to them is essential if we are to preserve the cultural heritage of the Sicilian Parks concerning the food use of wild plant species and in order to cultivate a number of species of agricultural interest. Our contribution should be not considered as exhaustive and future research is necessary in order to extend investigation to the younger generations and comment on the transmission of knowledge from the old to the new generation.”

Read the complete article at PubMed.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.




Traditional Knowledge of Wild Edibles Used by the Naxi in Baidi Village, Yunnan Province

Share

Traditional knowledge and its transmission of wild edibles used by the Naxi in Baidi Village, northwest Yunnan province

Geng Y, Zhang Y, Ranjitkar S, Huai H, Wang Y
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2016 Feb 5;12(1):10
PubMed PMID: 26846564
Yunnan Province
Yunnan Province (Source: TUBS, Wikimedia Commons)

Investigators from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, World Agroforestry Centre, and Yangzhou University conducted a detailed investigation of wild edibles used by the Naxi (Nakhi, 纳西族) people in Baidi village of Yunnan Province and evaluate them to identify innovative organic food products.

The team recorded 173 wild edible plant species, including Cardamine macrophylla, Cardamine tangutorum and Eutrema yunnanense, traditionally consumed as important supplements to the diet, particularly during food shortages.

From the background:

“The Naxi people, one of the main ethnic groups in northwest Yunnan, have accumulated rich knowledge on using wild edibles. Baidi Village (Sanba Naxi Nationality Township, Shangri-La City, Deqing Prefecture) is located in … the Northwest of Yunnan Province, roughly between the two cities Lijiang and Diqing…. The mountain in its territory belongs to Haba Snow Mountain, Yunling Mountain range. Baidi … reaches an elevation of approximately 4500 m while networks of streams and rivers including Geji and Yangtze dissect numerous valleys, which make it encompass a rich diversity of plants. The village has 15 sections or groups of the settlement, eight of which belong to the Naxi. In the northwest of the village, there is a big limestone terrace, Baishuitai (literal meaning white water terrace). Local people believe this place as a shrine and perform various religious activities. It also is a famous scenic spot that attracts the considerable number of tourists all over the world.”

Hypericum forrestii
Hypericum forrestii (Source: Prashanthns, Wikimedia Commons)

The article details the diversity of wild edibles used by the Naxi (including wild vegetables, wild fruits, teas, and one honey source, Hypericum forrestii) and the traditional wisdom of the Naxi regarding the use of these plants. In their conclusion, the authors propose sustainable investigation of nutritional value and market opportunities, while promoting conservation of traditional knowledge:

“The traditional food knowledge of the Naxi in Baidi is dynamic, affected by social factors and communicated with the outsiders’ food knowledge. Overall, this study provides a deeper understanding of the Naxi traditional knowledge on wild edibles. The study suggests some wild edibles might have an interesting dietary constituent, which necessitates further investigation on the nutrition value as well as market opportunities. With scientific evidence on nutrition value and market opportunity, more people will be attracted toward the wild edibles that will help in addressing food security issues along with conservation of traditional knowledge of the aboriginal population.”

Read the complete article at PubMed.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.




Use & Knowledge of Wild Leafy Vegetables in Northern Morocco

Share

Wild leafy vegetable use and knowledge across multiple sites in Morocco: a case study for transmission of local knowledge?

Powell B, Ouarghidi A, Johns T, Ibn Tattou M, Eyzaguirre P
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2014 Apr 4;10:34
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4008438

Regions of Morocco
Regions of Morocco [source: Tachfin, Wikimedia Commons]
Bronwen Powell of the Centre for International Forestry Research and McGill University, with colleagues from the Cadi Ayyad University, McGill, Mohammed V University and Bioversity International, conducted an ethnobotanical study to document the use and diversity of wild leafy vegetables across three regions in northern Morocco (Taza-Al Hoceima-Taounate, Tadla-Azilal, and Marrakech-Tensift-El Haouz – #15, 12, and 7 on the map).

The authors discuss the importance of wild leafy vegetables in the Background:

“WLVs [wild leafy vegetables] are essential to the nutrition and food security of people around the world. WLVs add diversity to the diet; making diets healthier and more interesting. Studies have shown the significant contribution of WLVs to micronutrient content of local diets in developing countries. WLVs can be important, not just in times of food scarcity (drought) but throughout the year. In many cases, WLVs are especially important to socio-economically vulnerable groups and indigenous populations forced to live on marginal lands for social and political reasons. In such groups WLVs can decrease people’s dependence on cash-purchased market foods and provide income for those with limited access to land for cultivation of crops.”

Scolymus maculatus
Scolymus maculatus [source: Iorsh, Wikimedia Commons]
The team identified more than 30 species of wild leafy vegetables, including four that had not previously been recorded in the literature as used in Morocco. A number of species were recorded in all three regions, including Carduus tenuiflorus, Scolymus maculatus, Scolymus hispanicus, Malva spp., Emex spinosa, and Rumex spp.

The vegetables are not eaten raw; rather they are cooked, either as a side dish or used as a vegetable in a sauce poured over couscous.

In their Conclusion, the authors note that their study of knowledge and use of wild leafy vegetables across three regions in Morocco present a case study of potential importance for research in transmission of ethnobotanical knowledge, the role of markets in cultural transmission, and the nutritional value of wild leafy vegetables to local diet and nutrition:

“Knowledge of WLVs in Morocco is clearly highly nuanced, very highly variable, and susceptible to rapid change. WLVs in Morocco provide an extremely interesting case study in which to further study the horizontal and vertical transmission of traditional or local knowledge. In Morocco, markets may be an important site where food preferences and choices are shaped through cultural transmission.

“There is a great need for more research on WLVs in Morocco: nutrient composition, contribution to local diet and nutrition, as well as the potential of WLVs and other traditional foods to play a role in mitigation of the nutrition transition. We need to better understand if and how WLVs and other traditional foods can be incorporated into public health nutrition messages and food-based strategies to mitigate the double burden of nutrition Morocco now faces.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Save

Diffusion of Innovations Theory & the Miracle Tree

Share

Adoption of Moringa oleifera to combat under-nutrition viewed through the lens of the “Diffusion of innovations” theory

Melanie D. Thurber & Jed W. Fahey
Ecol Food Nutr
2009 May-Jun;48(3):212-25
PubMed Central: PMC2679503
Pods of Moringa oleifera in Panchkhal, Nepal
Pods of Moringa oleifera in Panchkhal, Nepal
(Source: Krish Dulal, Wikimedia Commons)

Researchers from the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health and JHU School of Medicine review the evidence, pursuant to the diffusion of innovations theory, to support the adoption of Moringa oleifera as a nutritional supplement.

From the article background:

“Over 143 million children under the age of five in developing countries were undernourished in 2006. Food insecurity, lack of access to health care (including international food aid), and social, cultural, and economic class, all play a major role in explaining the prevalence of under-nutrition. The regions most burdened by undernutrition, (in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean) all share the ability to grow and utilize an edible plant, Moringa oleifera, commonly referred to as “The Miracle Tree”. For hundreds of years, traditional healers have prescribed different parts of M. oleifera for treatment of skin diseases, respiratory illnesses, ear and dental infections, hypertension, diabetes, cancer treatment, water purification, and have promoted its use as a nutrient dense food source. The leaves of M. oleifera have been reported to be a valuable source of both macro- and micronutrients and is now found growing within tropical and subtropical regions worldwide, congruent with the geographies where its nutritional benefits are most needed.”

The authors review the evidence for adoption of M. oleifera as a nutritional supplement in the context of the diffusion of innovations theory, which they describe as follows:

“What started as traditional practice and knowledge is being disseminated by international aid agencies, health care workers, and the private sector, to educate people around the world as a sustainable innovation to combat under-nutrition including micronutrient deficiencies. The “Diffusion of Innovations” theory explains the recent increase in M. oleifera adoption by various international organizations and certain constituencies within undernourished populations, in the same manner as it has been so useful in explaining the adoption of many of the innovative agricultural practices in the 1940-1960s. “Diffusion is the process by which an innovation is communicated through certain channels over time among the members of a social system…it is a kind of social change” (Rogers, 1983). A sigmoidal curve … illustrates the adoption process starting with innovators (traditional healers in the case of M. oleifera), who communicate and influence early adopters, (international organizations), who then broadcast over time new information on M. oleifera adoption, in the wake of which adoption rate steadily increases. To date, over 1100 people are studying, growing, using, or implementing M. oleifera programs. According to Rogers (1983), the rate of adoption and possibilities of overadoption can be predicted using five characteristics of a new innovation. In order for M. oleifera to be adopted and for its widespread use to be promoted, evidence must be provided for the following five attributes: relative advantage, compatibility, complexity, observability, and trialability.”

Reviewing the evidence under the five attributes of the diffusion of innovations theory, the authors find support for the adoption of M. oleifera as a nutritional supplement and recommend that “rigorous trials with human volunteers be carried out rapidly, and that the results, whether positive or negative, be disseminated in peer reviewed, widely accessible journals, so that they can receive the imprimatur of the world nutritional science community.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Health Benefits Associated with Whole Grains

Share

Jonnalagadda SS, Harnack L, Liu RH, et al.
Putting the whole grain puzzle together: health benefits associated with whole grains–summary of American Society for Nutrition 2010 Satellite Symposium.
J Nutr. 2011 May;141(5):1011S-22S. [Free full text via PubMed Central]

A panel from the General Mills Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition, University of Minnesota, Cornell University, Tufts University, New Castle University, University of California, and University of Illinois reviewed the evidence regarding the health benefits associated with whole grains.

What are whole grains? “Whole grains are defined by the American Association of Cereal Chemists International and the FDA as consisting of the ‘intact, ground, cracked or flaked fruit of the grain whose principal components, the starchy endosperm, germ and bran, are present in the same relative proportions as they exist in the intact grain.'”

The panel found that:

“Current scientific evidence indicates that whole grains play an important role in lowering the risk of chronic diseases, such as coronary heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, and also contribute to body weight management and gastrointestinal health. The essential macro- and micronutrients, along with the phytonutrients present in whole grains, synergistically contribute to their beneficial effects. Current evidence lends credence to the recommendations to incorporate whole grain foods into a healthy diet and lifestyle program.”

Still, too many people rely on refined grain products for their diet. One of the authors, Dr. Chris Seal, has a practical suggestion for food shoppers:

“When shopping in a supermarket there will be a range of healthy, nutritious whole grains foods, be sure to get them and beware of spurious imitations. After a little time their taste grows on you and refined foods will no longer satisfy you. Soon, only the ill-informed will avoid whole grains foods. Whole grains are not a luxury, and no house is complete unless they are provided at every meal.”

[Read the full report.]

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.