Gnetum africanum: An African Wild Food Plant

Gnetum africanum: A Wild Food Plant from the African Forest with Many Nutritional and Medicinal Properties

Fadi Ali,1 Mafu Akier Assanta,2, Carole Robert1

1PharmAfrican, Lévis, Québec, Canada. 2Food Research and Development Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Saint-Hyacinthe, Québec, Canada.

Address correspondence to: Dr. Mafu Akier Assanta, Food Research and Development Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 3600 Casavant Boulevard West, Saint-Hyacinthe, QC, Canada J2S 8E3, E-mail: akierassanta.mafu@agr.gc.ca

Manuscript received 1 December 2010 Revision accepted 15 May 2011

Abstract

Gnetum africanum is a forest liana that grows abundantly in Central Africa, South America, and tropical and subtropical Asia. Its leaves are eaten as a vegetable, either raw or finely chopped and cooked; they are also widely used as an ingredient in soups and stews and are much in demand for their nutritional and therapeutic properties.

In the latter application, various fractions of G. africanum are used medicinally to treat many different illnesses. Many studies have also shown that the chemical composition of the leaves of this plant gives it significant nutritional properties, and its high fiber, protein, and calorie content support these claims.

Several molecular compounds related to the families of stilbenes, glycosylflavones, and flavonostilbenes have been isolated and identified in the leaf extract of this plant. These molecules give the plant its interesting properties and biological activities.

J Medicinal Food 14 (0) 2011, 1-9

DOI: 10.1089/jmf2010.0327



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