From lesser-known to super vegetables: the growing profile of African traditional leafy vegetables in promoting food security and wellness.
Sommaire de l'article
There are hundreds of traditional leafy vegetables and wild food plants of horticultural and nutritional significance in Africa. These lesser-known crops and wild food plants that are highly adapted to harsh growing conditions thrive with little care and are available when other sources of food fail or are out of season. They are rich in micronutrients and are often the cheapest sources of many essential vitamins and minerals in many localities. Many of them are very important functional foods in the traditional African diets and are rich in nutraceuticals including polyphenols, tannins, flavonoids and flavonols that exert demonstrable antioxidant, free radical scavenging and enzyme inhibition activities and have antimicrobial properties that provide scientific justification and possible mechanisms for their use in the management of a wide range of ailments including diet-related, non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular diseases. African traditional leafy vegetables are invaluable in promoting food security and wellness in Africa on account of their availability and affordability; their great nutritional value, chemotherapeutic and health promoting properties and other unique qualities. Long recognised by the rural populace as quality food items, they are becoming more popular even with the more affluent urban elites. There is the need to develop improved management practices for these super vegetables to promote their cultivation and boost their exploitation for food security and wellness in Africa.