Chuta (edible Jatropha curcas L.), the newcomer among underutilized crops: a rich source of vegetable oil and protein for human consumption

Abstract

Facing the worldwide increasing demand for edible oil and protein and their production deficit in many developing countries, we investigated the nutritional value of chuta (edible Jatropha curcas L.). Chuta is a perennial tropical and subtropical plant that survives in unfavorable environments. Lower inputs are required for chuta cultivation than for other crops. The oil- and protein-rich kernels can be exploited as a snack, as an ingredient for foodstuffs, or for production of edible oil and protein. We analyzed seed and kernel characteristics, the fatty and amino acid profiles, vitamin and vitamer contents, and the levels of minerals in kernels of 40 chuta genotypes and compared mean values to crops commonly used as oil and protein sources. Our results showed that chuta oil and protein have high nutritional value for humans. We concluded that chuta products can compete with products of other crops such as soybean and peanut. Chuta products can complement the diets of vegetarians and vegans, professional athletes or persons who have to restrict their consumption of carbohydrates for medical reasons. Further, chuta can be cultivated in rural areas of developing countries, where protein sources might be scarce. Oil content in kernels and other parameters investigated here can be influenced by environmental factors during plant growth and factors of the processing chain. Considering the excellent nutritional value and promising breeding opportunities to improve important parameters, we expect an expansion of the cultivation area of this underutilized crop in the near future for production of edible oil and protein.

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Acknowledgements

We are deeply grateful to the technical team in Madagascar and Paraguay and Prof. Dr. med. Hans Konrad Biesalski (head of the Institute of Biological Chemistry and Nutritional Science of the University of Hohenheim) for their collaboration. Further, we appreciate the expert advice of Prof. Dr. med. Stephan Bischoff (managing director of the Institute of Clinical Nutrition of the University of Hohenheim).

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Correspondence to Klaus Becker.

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Senger, E., Bohlinger, B., Esgaib, S. et al. Chuta (edible Jatropha curcas L.), the newcomer among underutilized crops: a rich source of vegetable oil and protein for human consumption. Eur Food Res Technol 243, 987–997 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00217-016-2814-x

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Keywords

  • Chuta
  • Edible Jatropha curcas
  • Nutritional value
  • Edible oil
  • Vegetable protein
  • Chuta processing