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J Ethnopharmacol. 1999 Jul;66(1):1-10.

Saponins and phenolic content in plant dietary additives of a traditional subsistence community, the Batemi of Ngorongoro District, Tanzania.

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  • 1School of Dietetics and Human Nutrition, Macdonald Campus of McGill University, Faculty of Agriculture and Environmental Science 21, Ste. Anne de Bellevue, Quebec, Canada.


Reports of plants added to milk and meat-based soups by the Maasai and Batemi in East Africa support a role for phenolic antioxidants and hypocholesterolemic agents in the diet, and provide explanation of the low incidence of cardiovascular disease of populations that traditionally consume high levels of dietary fat and cholesterol. Plant food additives used by the Batemi of Ngorongoro District, Tanzania, were tabulated, based on interviews with 22 informants, while 17 specimens were collected in the field and analyzed for saponin and phenolic content. A total of 81% of the Batemi additives and 82% of those known to be used by the Maasai contain potentially hypocholesterolemic saponins and/or phenolics.

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