Title : Nutraceutical potential of some underutilized subsidiary food crops and Legumes
The diverse ecosystems play a vital role in the life, economy and health care of the inhabitants of a country. The Indian conditions provide immense scope and potential for chemical studies on underutilized subsidiary food plants like Amaranthus, Chenopodium, Celosia, Fagopyrum (Buckwheat) and Psophocarpus tetragonolobus (winged bean) etc. of nutraceutical importance as only very little information are available on them. Some exotic and indigenous species of these are cultivated and studied for their anti-oxidant (carotenoids, provitamin A, Vitamin C), nutritional (oils, fatty acids, proteins, amino acids, fractionation of protein and antinutritional (oxalate, nitrate etc) composition. Fractionation of the Chenopodium seed proteins showed that its major part (70-80%) is water and saline soluble with well- balanced essential amino acid (lysine 6.6-7.0%) composition. The Amaranthus, Chenopodium, and Fagopyrum protein were in close proximity to the FAO/WHO recommendations and the oil of former possess cholesterol –lowering property. The leaves of Chenopodium and Amaranthus are excellent sources of antioxidants. To meet the nutraceutical requirements of an ever increasing population, there has been a constant search for new legumes of high protein content. There is worldwide interest in finding low cost protein sources hitherto unexploited. Edible legumes play a major role in meeting the widespread protein malnutrition. The present agricultural situations exclude the possibility of making more arable land available for the cultivation of such legume crops. On the other hand, huge quantities of leguminous seeds go to waste without being properly utilized due to the lack of adequate scientific knowledge regarding their nutritional composition. A chemical screening programme of underutilized legume seeds was initiated at National Botanical Research Institute, Lucknow to explore the possible new potential sources of protein. Details of the findings will be presented in this paper.