Retention of Β- Carotene, Iron and Zinc in Solar Dried Amaranth Leaves in Kajiado County, Kenya
Kuria, E. N.
Nyambaka, H. N.
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Amaranth is one of the underutilized vegetable with high nutritive value. Availability of amaranth leaves is seasonal and therefore preservation for use in other seasons is necessary. Solar drying is one of the recommended methods for vegetable preservation. Minimal information exists on nutrient content of amaranth leaves grown in dry areas. There is also scarce information on the effect of solar drying on the β – carotene, iron and zinc in amaranth leaves. The amaranth leaves were obtained from Kajiado County, an arid area. The β - carotene in fresh and solar dried amaranth leaves were analyzed using UV-VIS Spectrophotoscopy, while iron and zinc using Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometry (AAS). Results show that, the nutrient content for β- carotene, iron and zinc in fresh amaranth leaves was 5.75 ± 0.04 SD, 8.47 ± 0.05 SD and 3.18 ± 0.04 SD mg/100 g, respectively. This changed to 4.46 ± 0.04 SD, 7.98 ± 0.02 SD and 3.03 ± 0.03 SD with solar drying. This indicates retention of 77.5%, 94.3%, and 95.4% for β-carotene, iron and zinc, respectively. There was no significant (P> 0.05) change in β-carotene, iron and zinc with solar drying. Solar drying also led to high concentration of nutrients per unit where the amount of β-carotene, iron and zinc in 100 grams of solar dried leaves was noted as 40.11 ± 3.21 SD, 71.85 ± 6.93 SD and 27.28 ± 1.43 SD mg/100 g, respectively. This study recommends the use of solar drying to preserve the amaranth leaves.