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Evaluation of Minerals, Phytochemical Compounds and Antioxidant Activity of Mexican, Central American, and African Green Leafy Vegetables


The green leafy vegetables Cnidoscolus aconitifolius and Crotalaria longirostrata are native to Mexico and Central America, while Solanum scabrum and Gynandropsis gynandra are native to Africa. They are consumed in both rural and urban areas in those places as a main food, food ingredient or traditional medicine. Currently, there is limited information about their nutritional and phytochemical composition. Therefore, mineral, vitamin C, phenolic and flavonoid concentration, and antioxidant activity were evaluated in multiple accessions of these leafy vegetables, and their mineral and vitamin C contribution per serving was calculated. The concentrations of Ca, K, Mg and P in these leafy vegetables were 0.82–2.32, 1.61–7.29, 0.61–1.48 and 0.27–1.44 mg/g fresh weight (FW), respectively. The flavonoid concentration in S. scabrum accessions was up to 1413 μg catechin equivalents/g FW, while the highest antioxidant activities were obtained in C. longirostrata accessions (52–60 μmol Trolox equivalents/g FW). According to guidelines established by the US Food and Drug Administration, a serving size (30 g FW) of C. longirostrata would be considered an excellent source of Mo (20 % or more of the daily value), and a serving of any of these green leafy vegetables would be an excellent source of vitamin C. Considering the importance of the minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants in human health and their presence in these indigenous green leafy vegetables, efforts to promote their consumption should be implemented.

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2,2′-Azobis(2-methylpropionamidine) dihydrochloride


L-ascorbic acid


catechin equivalents


daily value


US Food and Drug Administration


fresh weight


gallic acid equivalents


inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectroscopy


trichloroacetic acid


trolox equivalents


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This research has been supported by CONACYT Postdoctoral Fellowship Grant No 234764 to DMJA and by the USDA Agricultural Research Service through Cooperative Agreement No. 58-6250-0-008 to MAG. Authors thank Chee-Ming Li, David Dworak and Gretchen Kroh for providing excellent technical assistance. The contents of this publication do not necessarily reflect the view or policies of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. government.

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Correspondence to Michael A. Grusak.

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Jiménez-Aguilar, D.M., Grusak, M.A. Evaluation of Minerals, Phytochemical Compounds and Antioxidant Activity of Mexican, Central American, and African Green Leafy Vegetables. Plant Foods Hum Nutr 70, 357–364 (2015).

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  • Leafy vegetables
  • Minerals
  • Vitamin C
  • Phenolics
  • Flavonoids
  • Antioxidant activity