Health-promoting properties of indigenous commercially produced South African foods

Project lead: Prof Gyebi Duodu

Indigenous African grains (such as sorghum, cowpea and Bambara groundnut) have great potential for the development of foods with health promoting properties. Such foods could be beneficial for preventing diet-related non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. The project’s objective was to determine what happens to bioactive compounds known for their health-promoting properties when grains are processed. The research aims to encourage consumption of whole-grain foods made from these easily accessible local grains. The work included research and development of novel food products including porridges and extruded snacks.

Assessment of the products showed that the health-promoting bioactive compounds remain bio-accessible in the processed products, retaining their potential for cellular antioxidant protection. The protective functions also have implications for cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. In the next phases of the project, Professor Duodu and the team aim to carry out animal studies and human trials to further strengthen their findings.

The science involved in addressing this problem required collaborations from multiple disciplines. Therefore, the team included collaborations from disciplines such as biochemistry, food science, and human nutrition together with partners from the private sector and experts from international institutions, namely Texas A&M and Purdue University (both in the USA), the University of Eldoret in Kenya, the University of Manitoba in Canada and ICRISAT in India.

- Author IFNuW

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