Assessment of the Nutritional Value of Selected Wild Leafy Vegetables Growing in the Roma Valley, Lesotho

Main Article Content

Emmanuel B. Tanor
T’sooana Ntlatlapa
Sibusisiwe Magama


Objective: The study aimed at determining the nutrient content of nine selected wild leafy vegetables growing in Roma Valley of Lesotho as a means to achieve food security, improve nutritional and dietary diversity and address malnutrition in rural communities.

Methodology: The vegetables were analysed for proximate composition, and Ca, Mg, Na, P, K, Fe, Mn, Se, Cu and Zn and vitamin C. Analyses were carried out using standard methods.

Results: The proximate analysis revealed a high in moisture (81.15 - 92.23%) statistically similar (p<0.05), some were rich in protein, vitamin C, Cu, Mn, K and Fe. Chenopodium album has the highest protein (31.53±8.65 mg/100 g) fresh weight (FW); and Rorripa nudiscula (51.4% of RDA). Chenopodium album and Rorripa nudiscula were rich in Ca, 1598.21±15.25 mg/100 g FW and 1508.50±25.40 mg/100 g FW and in Mg, 505.14±35.55 mg/100 g FW and 525.18 mg/100 g FW respectively. The vegetables were rich in K, but low in Na, with Na-to-K ratio < 1.0, indicating that the vegetables could be ideal source of balanced sodium and potassium intake in diet. The vegetables were rich in Cu with ranging from 114.4% of RDA in Hypochaeris radicata to 342.2% of RDA in Chenopodium album. Fe was abundant in Rorripa nudiscula 251.7% of RDA and Chenopodium album 187.8% of the RDA. Mn was abundant in Amaranthus cruentus 557.8% of the RDA, in Chenopodium album or 245.7% of the RDA, in Rorripa nudiuscula, 205.5% of RDA, Amaranthus thunbergii (130.9% of RDA), moderate amounts in Amaranthus caudatus (1.94±0.36 mg/100 g FW or 84.4%) and Amaranthus spinosus (83.5% of RDA). The content of Se was moderate: Rorripa nudiscula (38.3% of RDA). Amaranthus thunbergii (20.50±0.27 µg/100 g FW, 37.3% of RDA), Amaranthus spinosus (34.0% of RDA) and Lactuta serriola (20.7% of RDA). Zn was high in Chenopodium album (117.3% of RDA) moderate in Rorripa nudiscula (35.6% of RDA) Lactuta serriola (23.9% of RDA), Amaranthus spinosus (19.6% of RDA), Amaranthus caudatus (15.9% of RDA). Most of the nutrient were statistically similar at p<0.5.

Conclusion: The nutrient composition indicated that the vegetables could be good source of minerals and vitamin C and could be incorporated in rural household diets to improve nutrition, address malnutrition and food insecurity.

Wild leafy, Amaranthus, micronutrients, vegetables, carbohydrates, macronutrients.

Article Details

How to Cite
Tanor, E. B., Ntlatlapa, T., & Magama, S. (2020). Assessment of the Nutritional Value of Selected Wild Leafy Vegetables Growing in the Roma Valley, Lesotho. European Journal of Nutrition & Food Safety, 12(10), 32-45.
Original Research Article


Grubben GDH, Denton OA, Editors. Plant Resources of Tropical Africa 2: Vegetables. PROTA Foundation. Wageningen. Backhuys Publishers Leiden Netherlands; 2004.

Rothman M, Ranneileng M, Nel R, Walsh C. Nutritional status and food intake of women residing in rural and urban areas of Lesotho. South Afr J of Clin Nutri, 2019;32(1):21-27. DOI: 10.1080/16070658.2017.1415783

Randhawa MA, Khan AA, Javed MS, Sajid MW. Green leafy vegetables: A health promoting source. In Watson RR, (Ed.) Handbook of Fertility, Nutrition, Diet, Lifestyle and Reproductive Health, Academic Press; 2015. Available:

Ayodele AE. The medicinally important leafy vegetables of South Western Nigeria; 2015. (Accessed 21 May 2020) Available:

Uusiku NP, Oelofse A, Duodu, KG, Bester MJ, Faber M. Nutritional value of leafy vegetables of Sub-Saharan Africa and their potential contribution to human health: A review. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis. 2010;23:499-509. Available:

Mendelsohn R. The impact of climate change on agriculture in Asia J. Integr Agric. 2014;13:660-665. DOI: 1016/S2095-3119(13)6070-7

Rammeloo J, Walleyn R. Edible plants of Lesotho. In: Ferreira I. CRF, Morales P, Barros L, Editors. Wild Plants, Mushrooms and Nuts: Functional Foods, Properties and Applications. Wiley & Sons; 2017.

Kansiime MK, Ochieng J, Kessy R, Karanja D, Romney D, Afari-Sefa V. Changing knowledge and perceptions of African indigenous vegetables: the role of community-based nutrition outreach. J Dev. Pract. 2018;28(4):480-493. DOI: 10.1080/09614524.2018.1449814

Caselato-Sousa VM, Amaya-Farfán J. State of knowledge on amaranth grain: A comprehensive review. J Food Sci. 2012;77:R93-R104.

Schackleton CM, Paspuini MW, Drescher AW. African indigenous vegetables in urban agriculture. London, Strteling VA, Earthscan; 2009.

AOAC, Association of Official Analytical Chemists. Official Methods of Analysis, 197th Ed. Rockville, Maryland; 2012.

Mariotti F, Tomé D, Mirand PP. Converting nitrogen into protein--beyond 6.25 and Jones' factors. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2008;48(2):177-84. PMID: 18274971 DOI: 10.1080/10408390701279749

FDA. Elemental Analysis Manual for Food and Related Products Version 1.1 – 4.4. Inductively coupled plasma-atomic emission spectrometric determination of elements in food using microwave assisted digestion. US Food and Drug Administration; 2010.

HACH, DR 2800 Procedures Manual; 2007.

Odhav B, Beekrum S, Akula US, Baijnath H. Preliminary assessment of nutritional value of traditional leafy vegetables in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. J. Food Compos. Anal. 2007;20:430–435.

Schönfeldt HC, Pretorius B. The nutrient content of five traditional South African dark green vegetables – A preliminary study. J. Food Compos. Anal. 2011;24(8): 1141-1146.

Linares-Morales JR, Gutiérrez-Méndez N, Rivera-Chavira BE, Pérez-Vega SB, Nevárez-Moorillón GV. Biocontrol processes in fruits and fresh produce, the use lactic bacteria as a sustainable option. Front. Sustain. Food Syst. 2018;2:1-13. DOI: 10.3389/fsufs.2018.00050

Barbosa-Canovas GV, Fontana AJ, Schmidt SJ, Labuza TP. Water activity in foods: Fundamentals and applications. Arnes AI. Iowa State University Press; 2007.

FAO. The state of food and agriculture: Climate change, agriculture and food security. Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations, Rome Italy; 2016.

Petsko GA, Ringe D. Protein structure and function. New Science Press Ltd, London; 2004.

Hou Y, Yin Y, Wu G. Dietary essentiality of nutritionally non-essential amino acids for animals and humans. Exp. Biol. Med. (Maywood). 2015;240(8):997-1007. DOI: 10.1177/153453702115587913

Institute of Medicine Dietary Reference Intakes for Water, Potassium, Sodium, Chloride, and Sulfate Washington, DC: The National Academies Press; 2005. Available:

Misra S, Misra MK. Nutritional evaluation of some leafy vegetable used by the tribal and rural people of south Odisha, India. J. Nat. Prod. Plant Resour. 2014;4(1):23. (Accessed 21 May 2020)

UNICEF Division of Data Research and Policy. UNICEF Global Databases: Overlapping Stunting, Wasting and Overweight, New York; 2019.

Ghosh S, Suri D, Uauy R. Assessment of protein adequacy in developing countries: Quality matters. Br J Nutr. 2012;108(Suppl)2:S77-87. DOI: 10.1017/S0007114512002577

Abdullah MMH, Gyles CL, Marinangeli CPF, Carlberg JG, Jones PJH. Dietary fibre intakes and reduction in functional constipation rates among Canadian adults: A cost-of-illness analysis. Food Nutr Res. 2015;59:28646. DOI: 10.3402/fnr.v59.28646 PMC: 4677277

Long Chen, Fengshou Tian, Zhongke Sun. Phosphorus nutrition and health: utilization of phytase producing Bifidobacteria in Food Industry; 2016. DOI: 10.5772/63644

Han S, Zhang W, Zhang R, Jiao J, Fu C, Tong X, Zhang W, Qin L. Cereal fiber improves blood cholesterol profiles and modulates intestinal cholesterol metabolism in C57BL/6 mice fed a high-fat, high-cholesterol diet. Food Nutr Res. 2019;63:1591. Available:

Ghadeer S. Aljuraiban, Linda M. O. Griep, Queenie Chan, Martha L. Daviglus. Total, insoluble and soluble dietary fibre intake in relation to blood pressure: The INTERMAP study. Br. J. Nutr, 2015;114(9):1480-1486. DOI:

Anderson J, Perryman S, Young L, Prior S. Dietary fibre fact. Sheet No. 9.333. Colorado State University: Fort Collins, CO, USA; 2010. (Accessed September 2020) Available:

Bozzetto L, Costabile G, Della Pepa G, Ciciola P, Vetrani C, Vitale M, Rivellese AA, Annuzzi G. Dietary fibre as a unifying remedy for the whole spectrum of obesity-associated cardiovascular risk. Nutrients. 2018;10(7):943. DOI: 10.3390/nu10070943

Threapleton DE, Darren C. Greenwood, Victoria J. Burley, Maryam Aldwairji, Janet E. Cade. Dietary fibre and cardiovascular disease mortality in the UK women's cohort study. Eur J Epidemiol. 2013;28(4):335-46. DOI: 10.1007/s10654-013-9799-6

Rioccioni G, Mancini B, Di Ilio E, Bucciarelli T, D’orazio N. Protective effect of Lycopene in cardiovascular disease. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2008;12:183-190.

Schmid A. The role of human fats in the human diet. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2011;51(1):50-66. DOI: 10.1080/1040839090903044636

Humphrey LT, De Groote I, Morales J, Barton N, Collcutt S, Ramsey CB, Bouzouggar A. Earliest evidence for caries and exploitation of starchy plant foods in Pleistocene hunter-gatherers from Morocco. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2014;111(3):954-959. DOI:10.1073/pnas.1318176111 PMID: 24395774

SACN. Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition, 2015. Carbohydrates and Health Report (ISBN 9780117082847). Available:

Jiang B, Miao M. Food safety: Food analysis technologies/techniques. In: Van Alfen NK (Ed.) Encyclopedia of Agriculture and Food Systems, 2nd Ed. Academic Press; 2014.

Troesch B, Biesalski HK, Rolf Bos, Buskens E, Calder PC, Saris WHM, Spieldenner J, Verkade HJ, Weber P, Eggersdorfer M. Increased intake of foods with high nutrient density can help to break the intergenerational cycle of malnutrition and obesity. Nutrients. 2015;7:6016-6037. DOI: 10.3390/nu7075266

Gharibzahedi SMT, Jafari SM. The importance of minerals in human nutrition: Bioavailability, food fortification, processing effects and nano-encapsulation. Trends in Food Sci Technol. 2017;62:119-132. DOI: 10.1016/j.tifs.2017.02.017

CDC Micronutrient Facts; 2020. (Accessed 20April 2020) Available:

Pravina P, Didwagh Sayaji, Mokashi Avinash. Calcium and its role in human body. Int. J. Res Pharm Biomed Sci. 2013;4(2):659-668.

Institute of Medicine US. Standing Committee on the Scientific Evaluation of Dietary Reference Intakes. Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Vitamin D, and Fluoride. National Academies Press, Washington, DC; 1997. DOI: 10.17226/5776

Al Hasan SM, Hassan M, Saha S, Islam M, Billah M, Islam S. Dietary phytate intake inhibits the bioavailability of iron and calcium in the diets of pregnant women in rural Bangladesh: A cross-sectional study. BMC Nutr. 2016;2:24-XX. Available:

Pasternak JK, Kocot J, Horecka A. Biochemistry of magnesium. Journal of Elementology. 2010;15(3):601-616. DOI: 10.5601/elem.2010.15.3.601-616

Glasdam S-M, Glasdam S, Günther H. Peters. The importance of magnesium in the human body: A systematic literature review. Adv Clin Chem. 2016;73:169- 193. Available:

Al Alawi AM, Majoni SW, Falhammar N. Magnesium and human health: Perspectives and research directions. Int J. Endocrinol. 2018;17. ID 9041694. DOI:

Williams M. Dietary supplements and sports performance: Metabolites, constituents and extracts. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2006;3:1–5.

Stone MS, Martyn L, Weaver CM. Potassium intake, bioavailability, hypertension and glucose control. Nutrients. 2016;8(7):444. DOI: 10.3390/nu80770444

Institute of Medicine Dietary Reference Intakes for Sodium and Potassium; 2019.

Iwahori T, Miura K, Ueshima H. Time to consider use of the sodium-to-potassium ratio for practical sodium reduction and potassium increase. Nutrients. 2017;9(7): 700. DOI: 10.3390/nu9070700

Ntuli NR. Nutrient content of scarcely known wild leafy vegetables from Northern KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. South African Journal of Botany. 2019;127:19-24. DOI: 10.1016/j.sajb.2019.08.033

Chen L, Tian F, Sun Z. Phosphorus nutrition and health: Utilization of phytase producing bifidobacteria in food industry. In: Venketeshwer Rao and Leticia G. Rao. Editors. Probiotics and Prebiotics in Human Nutrition and Health. InTech, IntechOpen; 2016. DOI: 10.5772/63644

WHO, World Health Organization. Food and Nutrition Tips during Self-Quarantine; 2020. (Accessed 02 April 2020) Available: emergencies/coronavirus-covid-19/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-technical-guidance/food-and-nutrition-tips-during-self-quarantine

WHO. Trace elements in human nutrition and health. World Health Organization: Geneva; 1996.

Institute of Medicine. Dietary reference intakes for vitamin A, vitamin K, arsenic, boron, chromium, copper, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, silicon, vanadium and zinc. Panel on Micronutrients. Washington, DC, National Academies Press, US; 2001. DOI: 10.17226/10026

Lane DE, Richardson DR. The active role of vitamin C in mammalian iron metabolism: Much more than just enhanced iron absorption! Free Radical Biol Med. 2014;75:698-83. DOI: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2014.07.007

Danzeisen R, Araya M, Harrison B, Keen C, Solioz M, Thiele D, et al. How reliable and robust are current biomarkers for copper status? Br. J. Nutr. 2007;98(4):676-83.

Mohammed H, Aboud F. Adaptation of WASI‐II mental development assessment tool for the evaluation of the long term effect of the ENAM project in adolescent children in Ghana Matern. Child Nutr. e12829. 2003;133(11 Suppl 2):3941S-3949S. DOI: 10.1093/jn/133.11.3941S

Huagen M, Froǿyland L, Henjum S, Luvik M, Stea T, Strand T, Parr C, Holvik K. Assessment of dietary intake of manganese in relation to tolerable upper intake level. Eur. J. Nutr Food Saf. 2019;9(2):91-93. DOI: 10.9734/EJNFS/2019/V9I230042

Aschner M, Erikson K. Manganese. Advances in Nutrition. 2017;8(3):529- 521. DOI:

Longman Li, Xiaobo Yang. The essential element manganese, oxidative stress and metabolic diseases: Links and interactions. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2018;11. ID 7580707. DOI: 10.1155/2018/7580707

Quintaes KD, Diez‐Garcia RW. The importance of minerals in the human diet. In: Handbook of Mineral Elements in Food. Editor. Miguel de la Guardia. Salvador Garrigues. Diez‐Garcia. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. 2015;1-21. DOI: 10.1002/9781118654316

Adrian F. Gombart, Adeline Pierre, Silvia Maggini. A review of micronutrients and the immune system working in harmony to reduce the risk of infection. Nutrients. 2020;12(1):236. DOI: 10.3390/nu12010236

Institute of Medicine US. Panel on Dietary Antioxidants and Related Compounds. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium, and Carotenoids. Washington, DC; 2000. PMID: 25077263 DOI: 10.17226/9810

Taylor D, Dalton C, Hall A, Woodroofe N, Gardiner PH. Recent developments in selenium research. Br J. Biomedical Sci. 2009;66:107-116. DOI: 10.1080/09674845.2009.11730256

Chauhan MD, Sharma RC. Power and magic in curcumin and selenium. Am. J. Pharm Tech Res. 2012;2(1):2249-3387.

Jimoh MO, Lewu FB. Suitability of Amaranthus species for alleviating human dietary deficiencies. S. Afr. J. Bot. 2018;115:65-73.

Sarker U, Hossain MM, Oba S. Nutritional and antioxidant components and antioxidant capacity in green morph Amaranthus leafy vegetable. Sci Rep. 2020;10:1336. Available:

Maggini S, Wenzlaff S, Hornig D. Essential role of vitamin C and zinc in child immunity and health. J. Int. Med. Res. 2010;38:386-414.

Maggini S, Wintergerst ES, Beveridge S, Hornig DH. Selected vitamins and trace elements support immune function by strengthening epithelial barriers and cellular and hormonal immune responses. Br J. Nutr. 2007;98:S29–S35.

DePhillipo NN, Aman ZS, BA, Mitchell IK, Begley JP, Moatshe G, LaPrade RF. Efficacy of vitamin C supplementation on collagen synthesis and oxidative stress after musculoskeletal injuries: A systematic review. Orthop J Sports Med. 2018;6(10):2325967118804544. DOI: 10.1177/2325967118804544

Anitra CC, Maggini S. Vitamin C and immune function. Nutrients. 2017;9:1211-XX. DOI: 10.3390/nu9111211

Mohammed BM, Fisher BJ, Kraskauskas D, Ward S, Wayne JS,, Brophy DF,, et al. Vitamin C promotes wound healing through novel pleiotropic mechanisms. Int Wound J. 2015;13(4):572-84. DOI: 10.1111/iwj.12484

Aghajanian P, Hall S, Wongworawat MD, Mohan S. The roles and mechanisms of actions of vitamin C in bone: New developments. J Bone Miner Res. 2015;30(11):1945-55. DOI: 10.1002/jbmr.2709

Li Y, Schellhorn HE. New developments and novel therapeutic perspectives for vitamin C. J Nutr. 2007;137:2171-2184.