Nutritional Profiles of Four Promising Wild Edible Plants Commonly Consumed by the Semai in Malaysia

Elsevier, Current Developments in Nutrition, Volume 7, April 2023
Tharmabalan R.T.

Background: An essential dietary strategy to address the rapidly increasing risk of the double burden of malnutrition among indigenous populations around the world is to improve nutritional and food diversity utilizing varieties of traditional plant-based foods. Objectives: The objective of this research was to identify wild edible plants (WEPs) frequently consumed by the Semai and analyze their proximate and mineral composition to improve the adequacy of the local population's nutritional intake. Methods: This study was conducted among 24 informants from 3 Semai settlements utilizing semistructured, ethnobotanical appraisal methods, proximate, and mineral analysis. Results: This research first documents the common names, ethnobotanical names, and uses of 4 WEPs commonly consumed by the Semai: Sayur manis/pucuk manis [Sauropus androgynus (L.) Merr.], Pucuk ubi (Manihot esculenta Crantz), Saya/aying (Strobilanthes crispa Blume), and snegoh [Diplazium esculentum (Retz.) Sw.]. The nutritional content ranged from 3.2 to 7.7 g/100 g (ash), 2.9 to 7.2 g/100 g (protein), 1.5 to 6.2 g/100 g (carbohydrate). The mineral analysis showed that these plants contain considerable calcium, iron, potassium, and magnesium content, ranging from 176 to 243 mg/100 g, 0.7 to 2.8 mg/100 g, 295 to 527 mg/100 g, 32 to 97 mg/100 g. A comparative analysis was done with commercial market produce: Ipomoea aquatica, Brassica rapa subsp. Chinensis and Brassica oleracea var. alboglabra. The nutrient content for the 3 produce ranged from 1.2 to 2.6 g/100 g (protein), 2.18 to 4.67 g/100 g (carbohydrate), and 0.59 to 1.67 mg/100 g (iron). The results showed that Manihot esculenta had the highest carbohydrate, calcium, potassium, and magnesium content, whereas the highest ash and protein content was found in Diplazium esculentum. Conclusions: These findings show that these WEPs had higher nutritional and mineral concentrations than select market produce and can be used to strengthen food and nutrition security among the Semai. However, additional information regarding antinutrient, toxic compounds, methods of preparation, and consumption is required to determine how much they contribute to nutritional outcomes before these vegetables may be adopted as new crops. Curr Dev Nutr 2023;x:xx.