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Lost Crops of Africa: Volume I: Grains (1996)

Chapter: Appendix H: Notes on Nutritional Charts

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Suggested Citation:"Appendix H: Notes on Nutritional Charts." National Research Council. 1996. Lost Crops of Africa: Volume I: Grains. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2305.
×

Appendix H
Note on Nutritional Charts

In the earlier chapters we have included tables of nutritional information, as well as charts that show how this information compares with that of a standard cereal such as maize or rice. They appear on the following pages.

Crop

Page

African rice

27

finger millet

44, 45

fonio

64

pearl millet

86, 87

sorghum

134, 135

tef

222, 223

kram-kram

263

shama millet

268

Egyptian grass

269

wadi rice

270

These tables and charts should be taken only as rough indications of the lost crop's merits, not the definitive word. Some species in this book are so neglected that their nutritional components have been reported merely once or twice. It is thus probable that the figures we have used are not representative of average samples, let alone especially nutritious forms. Moreover, natural variation can occur in the nutritional content of grain from any particular species as a result of nongenetic factors such as climate and the availability of nutrients in the soil. It could be, therefore, that even better types will be discovered and developed.

The bar graphs provide what we think is a simple, but visually powerful, representation of the relative nutritional merits of two foods. With them nutritional figures between two foods (or between a food and a recommended daily allowance) can be compared almost instantly. This technique, in which the relative merits can be seen at a glance,

Suggested Citation:"Appendix H: Notes on Nutritional Charts." National Research Council. 1996. Lost Crops of Africa: Volume I: Grains. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2305.
×

was devised specifically for this project, but comparable approaches could be employed equally well in Africa.*

The maize and rice values against which the African grains are compared in the bar graphs are taken from U.S. Department of Agriculture tables. The actual figures (converted to a dry-weight basis) are given below.

Component

Maize

Rice

Food energy (Kc)

408

406

Protein (g)

10.5

8.1

Carbohydrate (g)

83

90

Fat (g)

5.3

0.7

Fiber (g)

3.2

0.3

Ash (g)

1.3

0.7

Thiamin (mg)

0.43

0.08

Riboflavin (mg)

0.22

0.06

Niacin (mg)

4.1

1.8

Vitamin B6 (mg)

0.58

0.02

Folate (µg)

0.0

9.1

Pantothenic acid (mg)

0.47

1.15

Calcium (mg)

8

32

Copper (mg)

0.35

0.25

Iron (mg)

3.0

0.9

Magnesium (mg)

142

130

Manganese (mg)

0.55

1.1

Phosphorus (mg)

234

130

Potassium (mg)

320

130

Sodium (mg)

39

6

Zinc (mg)

2.5

1.2

In each of the essential-amino-acid bar graphs, the figures were compared on the basis of the amounts occurring in the protein of each grain (that is, grams per 100 grams of protein). In the other bar graphs, all nutrients were compared on a dry-weight basis so as to eliminate the distortions of different (and varying) amounts of moisture. Digestibility and other metabolic factors were not factored into the calculations. For vitamin A, the values for Retinol Equivalents were derived using standard formulas to convert literature figures given for carotenoids, ß-carotene, or International Units.

*  

The bar graphs were plotted electronically, so their resolution exceeds the standard error of the data (which is at minimum 10 percent). Duplicate data were discarded, and ranges were treated as separate values.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix H: Notes on Nutritional Charts." National Research Council. 1996. Lost Crops of Africa: Volume I: Grains. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2305.
×

Amino Acid

Maize

Rice

Cystine

1.8

2.0

Isoleucine

3.6

4.3

Leucine

12.3

8.3

Lysine

2.8

3.6

Methionine

2.1

2.4

Phenylalanine

4.9

5.3

Threonine

3.8

3.6

Tryptophan

0.7

1.2

Tyrosine

4.1

3.3

Valine

5.1

6.1

Total

41.1

38.1

Grams per 100 g protein.

In most of the charts in the chapters we have compared the native grains in their whole-grain form with whole-grain rice and maize. A more realistic comparison might have been against polished rice and maize meal (in which the germ has been removed). This is the form in which rice and maize are normally consumed, whereas the native grains—pearl millet, fonio, finger millet, tef, and (in most cases at least) sorghum—are eaten as whole grains. Comparing nutritive values for the forms in which each is actually eaten creates an even more graphic picture of the nutritional superiority of the native grains.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix H: Notes on Nutritional Charts." National Research Council. 1996. Lost Crops of Africa: Volume I: Grains. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2305.
×
Page 360
Suggested Citation:"Appendix H: Notes on Nutritional Charts." National Research Council. 1996. Lost Crops of Africa: Volume I: Grains. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2305.
×
Page 361
Suggested Citation:"Appendix H: Notes on Nutritional Charts." National Research Council. 1996. Lost Crops of Africa: Volume I: Grains. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2305.
×
Page 362
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Lost Crops of Africa: Volume I: Grains Get This Book
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Scenes of starvation have drawn the world's attention to Africa's agricultural and environmental crisis. Some observers question whether this continent can ever hope to feed its growing population. Yet there is an overlooked food resource in sub-Saharan Africa that has vast potential: native food plants.

When experts were asked to nominate African food plants for inclusion in a new book, a list of 30 species grew quickly to hundreds. All in all, Africa has more than 2,000 native grains and fruits--"lost" species due for rediscovery and exploitation.

This volume focuses on native cereals, including

  • African rice, reserved until recently as a luxury food for religious rituals.
  • Finger millet, neglected internationally although it is a staple for millions.
  • Fonio (acha), probably the oldest African cereal and sometimes called "hungry rice."
  • Pearl millet, a widely used grain that still holds great untapped potential.
  • Sorghum, with prospects for making the twenty-first century the "century of sorghum."
  • Tef, in many ways ideal but only now enjoying budding commercial production.
  • Other cultivated and wild grains.

This readable and engaging book dispels myths, often based on Western bias, about the nutritional value, flavor, and yield of these African grains.

Designed as a tool for economic development, the volume is organized with increasing levels of detail to meet the needs of both lay and professional readers. The authors present the available information on where and how each grain is grown, harvested, and processed, and they list its benefits and limitations as a food source.

The authors describe "next steps" for increasing the use of each grain, outline research needs, and address issues in building commercial production.

Sidebars cover such interesting points as the potential use of gene mapping and other "high-tech" agricultural techniques on these grains.

This fact-filled volume will be of great interest to agricultural experts, entrepreneurs, researchers, and individuals concerned about restoring food production, environmental health, and economic opportunity in sub-Saharan Africa.

Selection, Newbridge Garden Book Club

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