Chemical Characterization, Antioxidant Activity and Cytotoxicity of the Unconventional Food Plants: Sweet Potato (Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.) Leaf, Major Gomes (Talinum paniculatum (Jacq.) Gaertn.) and Caruru (Amaranthus deflexus L.)

Abstract

Unconventional food plants (UFPs), many of them popularly known as "weeds", are edible species with nutritional and socioeconomic potential that need to be rescued from intensive farming. The aims of this study were: to accomplish an ethnobotanical survey of UFPs consumed on Mem de Sá Island, Sergipe, Brazil and then to characterize the three most commonly used UFPs. The physicochemical parameters and bioactive compounds were assessed, and the in vitro antioxidant activity of the aqueous extracts of the plants was evaluated using DPPH radical assay, ABTS radical cation, and the β-carotene/linoleic acid cooxidation method. The cytotoxicity of the compounds was also analyzed using MTT assay in L929 fibroblasts. The survey identified 31 species of UFPs distributed in 22 families, and revealed that knowledge about the plants was concentrated in older individuals. The three most commonly used were Talinum paniculatum (Jacq.) Gaertn. (29.03%), Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam. (purple and white) leaf (25.81%) and Amaranthus deflexus L. (16.13%). Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam. had the highest total carbohydrate content, the purple variety the highest protein and total carotenoids content, and the white variety the highest copper (Cu), while its aqueous extract had the highest phenolic compounds and total flavonoids; Talinum paniculatum (Jacq.) Gaertn. had the highest iron (Fe) content, and, with Amaranthus deflexus L., the highest calcium (Ca); and Amaranthus deflexus L. had the highest vitamin C. The extracts of the analyzed plants showed antioxidant potential. Therefore, these UFPs are alternative nutritional sources for food diversification in modern society.

Graphic Abstract

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Abbreviations

UFPs:

Unconventional food plants

PP:

Purple potato

WP:

White potato

MG:

Major gomes

CA:

Caruru

AEPP:

Aqueous extract of purple potato

AEWP:

Aqueous extract of white potato

AEMG:

Aqueous extract of major gomes

AECA:

Aqueous extract of caruru

Aw:

Water activity

TSS:

Total soluble solids

TTA:

Total titratable acidity

MTT:

Methyl-thiazolyl-tetrazolium

DMEM:

Dulbecco modification of minimum essential media

GAE:

Gallic acid equivalent

CE:

Catechin equivalen

DPPH:

2,2-Diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl

ABTS:

2,2′-Azino-bis(3-ethylbenzothiazoline-6-sulfonic acid) diammonium salt

ANOVA:

Analysis of variance

AOAC:

Association of Official Analytical Chemists

ICP-OES:

Inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry

Unicamp:

Universidade Estadual de Campinas

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Acknowledgements

We are grateful to the Mem de Sá Island community for welcoming us and being willing to share their popular knowledge that greatly contributed to the development of this research project, especially Evandro Almeida Tupinambá and Salvador Narciso dos Santos. We would also like to thank the staff of the herbarium of the Federal University of Sergipe (ASE/UFS), Marta Cristina Vieira Farias and Eládio dos Santos, who spent a huge amount of time identifying and registering the species collected. This research was supported financially by the Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel and the Foundation for Research and Technological Innovation Support of the State of Sergipe—CAPES/FAPITEC, n° 108/2016 (Grant Numbers 88887.159263/2017-00).

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Moura, I.O., Santana, C.C., Lourenço, Y.R.F. et al. Chemical Characterization, Antioxidant Activity and Cytotoxicity of the Unconventional Food Plants: Sweet Potato (Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.) Leaf, Major Gomes (Talinum paniculatum (Jacq.) Gaertn.) and Caruru (Amaranthus deflexus L.). Waste Biomass Valor (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12649-020-01186-z

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Keywords

  • Valorization of wild food plants
  • Ethnobotany
  • Centesimal composition
  • Lingua-de-vaca
  • Bredo
  • ICP-OES