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Nutr Health. 2006;18(2):151-60.

Nutritive value and haemolytic properties (in vitro) of the leaves of Vernonia amygdalina on human erythrocyte.

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Biochemistry Department, Federal University of Technology, P.M.B. 704, Akure, Ondo State, Nigeria.



Vernonia amygdalina (Bitter leaf) is popularly consumed in many homes in Nigeria as a vegetable in soup preparation, while the infusion is used in folk medicine in the treatment of malaria fever. In this study, fresh leaves of Vernonia amygdalina were subjected to abrasion (to remove the bitter taste) as is normally done in soup preparation, subsequently the nutrient, anti-nutrient and zinc bioavailability of the processed and unprocessed leaf were determined. The heamolytic effect of the leaf infusion on human erythrocytes (Genotype-SS, AS, AA) was also determined.


The study revealed that Vernonia amygdalina leaf has high protein (33.3%), fat (10.1%), crude fibre (29.2%), ash (11.7%), mineral (Na, K, Ca, Mg, Zn & Fe), phytate (1015.4mg/100g) and tannin (0.6%) content, while it contain low cyanide (1.1mg/kg). Abrasion of the leaf caused a significant decrease (P<0.05) in both the nutrient and antinutrient content of the leaf except in carbohydrate where there was a significant increase (P<0.05) and Mg where there was no significant change (P>0.05). The result of the calculated [Ca][phytate]/ [Zn] molar ratio (the best index for the prediction of Zn bioavailability) indicated that the phytate content of both the processed and unprocessed Vernonia amygdalina leaf will not reduce the Zn content to a critical level (0.5mol./kg). Further studies on the leaf revealed that the infusion induced the haemolysis of human erythrocyte (In vitro). Human genotype-SS (1024) were highly susceptible to haemolysis induced by Vernonia amygdalina infusion, genotype-AS moderately susceptible (512) while genotype-AA (256) is highly resistant to haemolysis induced by the same infusion.


Bitter leaf has high nutrient and antinutrient content, however, abrasion will bring about a significant decrease (P<0.05) in both. The infusion of the Vernonia amygdalina leaf induces the haemolysis of mammalian erythrocyte in vitro, with Human-SS having the highest susceptibility.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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