Levels of selected essential elements in four parts of three varieties of watermelons sold in Githurai and Mwea markets in Kenya
Nthiga, Esther Wanja
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Watermelons belong to the family cucurbitaceous, they are fruits like cantaloupe, pumpkin and similar to plants that grow on vines on the ground. There are over 1,200 varieties of watermelons in the world, several of these varieties have been recommended for Kenya range of climate, however only three varieties are commercially grown in Kenya namely; the Charleston Grey (Sugar F1), Crimson sweet (Zebra) and Sugar baby. Watermelon has four distinct parts; the seeds, the pink flesh, the white flesh and the peel. Watermelon has high content of water of about 93%. It is a rich source of essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, sodium and smaller amounts of copper, iron, zinc and selenium. Watermelons have substantial amounts of boron, iodine, chromium, silicon and molybdenum. The levels of nutrients in different parts of the watermelons may be different. Different people consume different parts and varieties of watermelon and thus depending on the part/variety of watermelon consumed these people may get different nutrients and levels of the same. However, levels of nutrients in various parts/varieties of watermelon have not been documented. There is need to have nutrient of various parts/varieties determined and documented. This study therefore determined the levels of Si, Ca, B, Mo, Cr and V in the four parts of Charleston grey, Crimson sweet and Sugar baby watermelons. The samples were obtained from Githurai and Mwea markets from different vendors. The elements were analyzed using atomic absorption spectrophotometer and data analyzed using ANOVA. The results of this study showed that there were variations in levels of essential elements the parts and varieties of watermelons bought from Githurai and Mwea markets. Significant high mean levels (p =0.002) of 1.28±0.02 mg/g B and (p = 0.001) in 471.89±13.89 µg/g V, 40.33±1.58 µg/g Mo and 44.67±1.10 µg/g Cr were recorded in seeds compared to other parts of Sugarbaby watermelons samples. Significantly high mean levels of 1.44±0.12 mg/g Si (p = 0.001) were recorded by the peel/rind compared to other parts of Charleston grey watermelons samples. Compared to other varieties of watermelon the Crimson sweet recorded significantly high amounts of 31.11±1.81 µg/g Mo, 297.67±8.28 µg/g V and 1.15±0.05 mg/g B (p = 0.001). Charleston grey watermelons samples bought form Mwea market recorded significantly high amount of Cr of 28.89±3.33 µg/g (p = 0.002) compared to those obtained from Githurai market. It would be recommended that people find ways of eating all the parts and varieties of watermelons.