Nutritional evaluation of theJessenia bataua palm: Source of high quality protein and oil from tropical America
Current agricultural realities dictate that crops be developed which can be grown with fewer petroleum inputs and on marginal croplands. A palm tree native to the Amazon Valley,Jessenia bataua, found in both swamplands and upland forests has been studied. The fruits of this tree have long been exploited by indigenous peoples as a source of oil and a milk-like drink. Chemical analyses of the oil show it to be similar to olive oil. Chemical and biological assays of the mesocarp pulp protein reveal its quality to be comparable to that of good animal protein and considerably better than most grain and legume proteins. Rats fed diets containingJessenia bataua mesocarp oil and pulp showed normal weight gains when compared to those fed diets with similar quanities of corn oil and casein.Jessenia bataua is an example of a little-known wild plant that could provide a new source of food protein and oil for combating world hunger.