Fat content and fatty acid composition of oils extracted from selected wild-gathered tropical plant seeds from Nigeria

Abstract

As the search for alternative sources of food to alleviate hunger continues, this study was undertaken to determine the fat content and the fatty acid composition of 15 lesser-known wild tropical seeds gathered in Nigeria. Results were contrasted with five tropical soybean varieties (Glycine max). The fat content varies from less than 1% (Pterocarpus santalinoides, Daniellia ogea) to 59% (Entandrophragma angolense). The fatty acid composition of most of the wild and mostly leguminous seeds differed considerably, compared to the composition of tropical soybeans. The oil of Adansonia digitata, Prosopis africana, Afzelia lebbeck, Enterolobium cyclocarpium, and Sesbania pachycarpa contained high proportions of linoleic and oleic acid as well as palmitic and linolenic acid. Seeds of Milletia thonningii, Lonchocarpus sericeus, and S. pachycarpa were much higher in linolenic acid and relatively poor in linoleic acid, compared to soybeans. The content of saturated fatty acids was higher than that of soybeans, resulting in lower polyunsaturated/saturated (P/S) ratios (0.83–2.12) than observed in soybeans (P/S=3.4), with the exception of the composition of S. pachycarpa (P/S=3.15). Some of these less familiar wild seeds could be used as sources for industrial or edible oils, provided that possible toxic constituents could be removed.

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Correspondence to Klaus J. Petzke.

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Ezeagu, I.E., Petzke, K.J., Lange, E. et al. Fat content and fatty acid composition of oils extracted from selected wild-gathered tropical plant seeds from Nigeria. J Am Oil Chem Soc 75, 1031–1035 (1998). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11746-998-0282-6

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Key words

  • Fat content
  • fatty acid composition
  • legume seeds
  • linolenic acid
  • Nigeria
  • soybean
  • tropical seeds