Plant Foods for Human Nutrition

, Volume 51, Issue 4, pp 343–356 | Cite as

Cultivar and processing effects on the pasting characteristics, tannin content and protein quality and digestibility of cowpea (Vigna unguiculata)

  • W. A. Plahar
  • N. T. Annan
  • C. A. Nti


Four popular West African local cultivars of cowpea (Vigna unguiculata), with distinctly different seed coat colors, were evaluated for their relative amylograph pasting characteristics, condensed tannin content, in vitro protein digestibility and Tetrahymena protein efficiency ratio (t-PER). The effects of roasting and dehulling on these properties were also determined. There were wide variations in the hot paste viscosity characteristics of the different cultivars studied. The raw cowpea flour samples exhibited maximum paste viscosities ranging between 260 Brabender Units (BU) for the Mottled cultivar and 460 BU for the cream-colored Blackeye cultivar. Cowpea cultivars with the greatest peak viscosities showed low stabilities to extended cooking. Roasting depressed paste viscosity properties of all the cowpea cultivars studied. Tannin concentrations were 0.3–6.9 and 7.2–116 mg CE/g flour from whole cowpea seeds and seed coats respectively, increasing with intensity of seed color. Although dehulling removed 98% of the tannin content of raw cowpeas, improvement in protein quality as a result of dehulling was observed for only the highly-pigmented Maroon-red variety. Roasting significantly improved digestibility and more than doubled the t-PER of all cowpea cultivars studied. Roasted cowpeas possess adequate nutritional and functional qualities as protein supplements in cereal-based weaning foods. However, it appears that dehulling is necessary to enhance the nutritional quality of the highly pigmented cultivars of cowpea.

Cowpea cultivars Dehulling Digestibility Protein quality Roasting Tannins 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. A. Plahar
    • 1
  • N. T. Annan
    • 1
  • C. A. Nti
    • 2
  1. 1.Food Research Institute (C.S.I.R.)AccraGhana
  2. 2.Food Research InstituteAccraGhana

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