Effect of Stinging Nettle Leaf Flour Substitution on the Quality Characteristics of Fermented Corn Complementary Foods

  •  Mary Nkongho Tanyitiku    
  •  Igor Casimir Njombissie Petcheu    


Proper complementary feeding is required to provide essential nutrients to growing infants. However, most families in developing countries are severely food insecure, leading to constant child malnutrition. This study developed fermented corn complementary foods (pap) supplemented with abundantly available and affordable stinging nettles. Stinging nettle leaf flour was incorporated into pap at 5%, 10%, 15% and 20% and evaluated in relation to nutritional, functional, and sensory properties. Soybeans were used to compare the nutritional and health benefits of nettles in infant nutrition. A gradual incorporation of nettle leaf flour increased (p<0.05) the ash, protein, and dietary fibre content of pap from 0.72%, 3.48% and 2.87% to 9.46%, 18.98% and 4.56% respectively. Likewise, nettle-enriched pap contained higher carotenoids (4.99mg/100g), vitamin C (48.76mg/100g), calcium (176.49mg/100g), phosphorus (35.21mg/100g), potassium (210.54mg/100g), and iron (284.55mg/100g) than soybean-enriched pap: 0.96, 4.40, 50.99, 29.29, 204.78 and 64.02mg/100g respectively. While total phenolic content and antioxidant activity index increased (p<0.05) with increasing addition of nettle leaf flour from 1.23mgGAE/g and 0.15 to 125.45mgGAE/g and 2.01 respectively, the metabolic glycaemic response decreased (p<0.05) from 68.53% to 35.60%. In addition, all functional qualities were within acceptable limits for complementary feeding. Nursing mothers rated the overall acceptability between 7.14 (5% nettle-enriched pap) and 6.23 (20% nettle-enriched pap), and 12 of these 20 mothers accepted to feed their babies with stinging nettle leaf flour. Our findings indicated that stinging nettle leaves are nutritionally important for improving low-cost complementary feeding and thus could contribute to the combat of infant malnutrition in rural communities.

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