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J Hunger Environ Nutr. 2016 Oct 1;11(4):548-568. Epub 2016 May 5.

Exploring the Potential of Indigenous Foods to Address Hidden Hunger: Nutritive Value of Indigenous Foods of Santhal Tribal Community of Jharkhand, India.

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Indian Institute of Public Health-Delhi, Public Health Foundation of India , Gurgaon , India.
All India Institute of Medical Sciences , Ansari Nagar , New Delhi , India.
Public Health Foundation of India , New Delhi , India.
Nutrition and Bone Health Research Group, MRC Human Nutrition Research, Elsie Widdowson Laboratory , Cambridge , UK.


Traditional foods of indigenous communities can be explored as a sustainable means of addressing undernutrition. Our study aimed at identifying indigenous foods of the Santhal tribal community of Godda district of Jharkhand, India, assessing their nutritive value, and appraising their potential role in addressing hidden hunger. A cross-sectional survey using qualitative methods like focus group discussions with women of childbearing age (15-49 years), adult males, and elderly people was conducted for food identification. This was followed by taxonomic classification and quantitative estimate of nutritive value of the identified foods either in a certified laboratory or from secondary data. The community was well aware of the indigenous food resources in their environment. More than 100 different types of indigenous foods including a number of green leafy vegetables were identified. Taxonomic classification was available for 25 food items and an additional 26 food items were sent for taxonomic classification. Many indigenous foods (more than 50% of which were green leafy vegetables) were found to be rich sources of micronutrients like calcium, iron, vitamin A as beta carotene, and folate. Maximizing utilization of indigenous foods can be an important and sustainable dietary diversification strategy for addressing hidden hunger in this indigenous community.


Indigenous foods; hidden hunger; micronutrients; santhal tribes

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