THE NUTRITIONAL POTENTIAL OF SYNSEPALUM DULCIFICUM PULP AND THE EFFECT OF THE METHANOLIC EXTRACT ON SOME BIOCHEMICAL PARAMETERS IN ALBINO RATS
The nutritive and antinutritive compositions of S. dulcificum pulp were analysed to augment the available information on the anti-diabetic effect of the plant. Biochemical parameters like liver function enzymes (ALT, AST, ALP) and bilirubin concentrations,serum total protein, serum albumin and globulin, kidney function parameters (creatinine and urea concentrations), blood glucose, serum lipid profile and lipid peroxidation were determined in rats that were administered different concentrations of the methanolic extract to ascertain their effects. The internal organs (liver and kidney) were also removed and used for histopathological studies. From the result of the study, the proximate composition shows that S. dulcificum contains 7.75% protein, 59.55% moisture content, 4.36% ash, 6.24% crude fibre, 3.26% fat and 18.84% carbohydrate.The result of the mineral analysis shows that S.dulcificum pulp contains 100 mg/g calcium, 24.20 mg/g iron, 9.49 mg/g zinc, 6.22 mg/g copper, 0.01 mg/g chromium and 0.01 mg/g cobalt. Vitamin analyses shows that the S. dulcificum pulp contains 0.04% vitamin A, 22.69% vitamin C, 0.01% vitamin D and 0.02% vitamin K. Antinutrient analyses of the pulp show 5.67% oxalate, 0.03% phytates and 0.02% hemagglutinin. Amino acid profile shows that S.dulcificum pulp contains 8.055% tryptophan, 1.35% phenylalanine, 0.7% isoleucine, 0.5% tyrosine, 1.05% methionine, 0.4% proline, 0.69% valine, 1.1% threonine, 0.4% histidine, 0.5% alanine, 1.02% glutamine, 1.6% glutamic acid, 0.7% glycine, 0.3% serine, 1% arginine, 0.1% aspartic acid, 1.23% asparagine, 0.6% lysine and 0.6% leucine. Quantitative phytochemical analysis shows that the pulp contains 3.45% saponins, 57.01%`flavonoids, 7.12% tannins, 0.0001% alkaloids, 0.0001% glycosides, 0.0003% resins, 0.0002% terpenoids, 0.0001% steroids and 0.0003% cyanogenic glycosides.The results of the acute toxicity show that the methanol extract is not toxic to the mice at concentrations up to 5000mg/kg body weight. From the results obtained, the animals receiving 100mg/kg b.w of the methanolic extract showed significantly reduced (p<0.05) serum levels of glucose, bilirubin, low density lipoprotein cholesterol and ALT after the 14 day study compared to the 28 day study. However, no significant difference (p>0.05) was also observed across the groups in their serum ALP, AST, creatinine, urea, cholesterol, TAG, albumin and globulin levels on the 14th day compared with the 28th day. A significant difference (p<0.05) was observed in the malondialdehyde and serum protein concentrations in the 500mg/kg b.w test group while glucose concentration decreased significantly (p<0.05) in the 100mg/kg b.w and 500mg/kg b.w test group after the 14 day study compared with the 28 day study. High density lipoprotein cholesterol level significantly increased (p<0.05) in the 200mg/kg b.w test group. Histopathological examination shows normal liver architecture across the groups at 100mg/kg b.w, 200mg/kg b.w and 500mg/kg b.w. Kidney sections of rats showing normal glomerulus (G) and renal tubules (arrow) at same concentration.
The worsening food crisis and the consequent widespread prevalence of malnutrition in developing and under-developed countries have resulted in high mortality and morbidity rates, especially among infants and children in low-income groups (Enujiugba and Akanbi, 2005). Food has been defined as any substance containing primarily carbohydrates, fats, water, protein, vitamins and minerals that can be taken by an animal or human to meet its nutritional needs and sometimes for pleasure. Items considered as food may be sourced from plants, animals or fungus as well as fermented products like alcohol. Food is also anything solid or liquid that has a chemical composition which enables it provide the body with the material from which it can produce heat or any form of energy, provide material to allow for growth, maintenance, repair or reproduction to proceed and supply substances, which normally regulate the production of energy or the process of growth, repair or reproduction. Food is therefore, the most basic necessity of life (Turner, 2006).
Nutrition is the science that deals with all the various factors of which food is composed and the way in which proper nourishment is brought about. The average nutritional requirements of groups of people are fixed and depend on such measurable characteristics as age, sex, height, weight, degree of activity and rate of growth. Good nutrition requires a satisfactory diet which is capable of supporting the individual consuming it, in a state of good health by providing the desired nutrients in required amounts. It must provide the right amount of nutrients and fuel to execute normal physical activity. If the total amount of nutrients provided in the diet is insufficient, a state of under- nutrition develops.
Plants are primary sources of medicines, food, shelters and other items used by humans everyday. Their roots, stems, leaves, flowers, fruits and seeds provide for humans (Amaechi, 2009; Hemingsway, 2004). Fruits are sources of minerals, fibre and vitamins which also provide essential nutrients for the human health (Anaka et al., 2009). Some fruits are also known to have antinutritional factors such as phytate and tannins,that can diminish the nutrient bioavailability if they are present at high concentrations (Baum, 2007). It has been reported that these anti-nutritional factors could also help in the treatment and prevention of certain important diseases like the anti-carcinogenic activities reported for phytic acid which has been demonstrated both invivo and invitro (Anaka et al., 2009).
The reliance on starchy roots and tubers and certain cereals as main staples result in consumption of non-nutritious foods. The insufficient availability of nutrient rich diets and the high cost of available ones have prompted an intense research into harnessing the potentials of the lesser known and underutilized crops, which are potentially valuable for human and animal foods to maintain a balance between population and agricultural productivity, particularly in the tropical and sub-tropical areas of the world. The challenge of improper nutrition especially in developing countries which include Nigeria, is indeed alarming. The World Health Organization (WHO, 2007) reported that poor nutrition contributes to one out of two deaths associated with infectious diseases among children within five yearsand the aged. Poor diet can have an injurious impact on health, causing deficiency diseases such as scurvy, beriberi and kwashiokor, health-threatening conditions such as obesity, metabolic syndrome, and such common other diseases as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and osteoporosis. Under-nutrition among pregnant women in developing countries leads to one out of six infants being born with low birth weight, which is a risk factor for neonatal deaths, learning disabilities, mental retardation, poor health and premature death. One out of three people in developing countries is affected by vitamin and mineral deficiencies making them prone to infectious diseases and impaired psycho intellectual development. Under and chronic nutrition problems and diet related chronic diseases account for more than half of the world’s diseases (WHO, 2007). In most of these side effects or diseases, the biochemical and haematological parameters are usually altered. For a food to be considered safe for human and animal consumption, its effect on these parameters need to be investigated to understand the nutritional potentials and safety of such foods with a view to determining their acceptability.
Sweeteners are food additives that are used to improve the taste of everyday foods. Natural sweeteners are sweet-tasting compounds with some nutritional value; the major ingredient of natural sweeteners is either mono- or disaccharides. Artificial sweeteners, on the other hand, are compounds that have very little or no nutritional value. This is possible because artificial sweeteners are synthesized compounds that have high-intensities of sweetness, meaning less of the compound is necessary to achieve the same amount of sweetness. Artificial sweeteners are used in products intended to limit caloric intake or prevent dental cavities. Sugar alcohols are natural compounds with varying degrees of sweetness which are often added to boost or fine tune flavours of products while increasing their sweetness. They are often used in conjuncture with natural or artificial sweeteners in order to achieve a desired degree of sweetness, taste or texture. Sugar alcohols typically provide some amount of nutrition but have other benefits such as not affecting insulin response or promoting tooth decay which makes them a popular sweetening choice.
- Common Sweeteners and Their Production
A sugar substitute is a food additive that replicates the effect of sugar in taste, but usually has less food energy. Some sugar substitutes are natural while others are synthetic, those that are not natural are referred to as artificial sweeteners (Mattes and Popkin, 2009). An important class of sugar substitutes is known as high-intensity sweeteners. These are compounds with sweetness that is many times that of sucrose, a common table sugar. As a result, much less sweetener is required, and energy contribution often negligible. The sensation of sweetness caused by these compounds is sometimes notably different from sucrose, so they are often used in complex mixtures that achieve the most natural sweet sensation. This may be seen in soft drinks labelled as “diet” or “light”; they contain artificial sweeteners and often have notably different mouth feel. In the United States, six intensely-sweet sugar substitutes have been approved for use (Mattes and Popkin, 2009). They are saccharin, aspartame, sucralose, neotame, acesulfame potassium, and stevia. The US Food and Drug Administration regulates artificial sweeteners as food additives. The majority of sugar substitutes approved for food use are artificially-synthesized compounds. However, some bulk natural sugar substitutes are known, including sorbitol and xylitol, which are found in berries, fruit, vegetables and mushrooms (Mattes and Popkin, 2009). Some non-sugar sweeteners are polyols, also known as “sugar alcohols.” These are, in general, less sweet than sucrose, but have similar bulk properties and can be used in a wide range of food products. Sometimes the sweetness profile is ‘fine-tuned’ by mixing high-intensity sweeteners. As with all food products, the development of a formulation to replace sucrose is a complex proprietary process.