Friday, 30 October 2015

Unusual Uses for Pumpkins via @usnews

Volume 43, November 2015, Pages 169–174
Original Research Article

Protein, mineral and amino acid content of some Cameroonian traditional dishes prepared from pumpkin (Cucurbita maxima Duch.)


Study of composition of traditional Cameroonian dishes prepared from pumpkin.
Protein, mineral, amino acid composition determined in 5 dishes.
Protein content ranged from 2.2 (Waïgoré dollugo) to 5.1 g/100 g ww (Waïgoré niébé).
Dishes good phosphorous sources; moderate content of other minerals.
Essential amino acids (except tryptophan) found in all dishes.


The aim of this study was to investigate the protein, mineral and amino acid content of some traditional dishes of the Far-North region of Cameroon prepared from pumpkin. Samples were collected after a survey of the cooking methods of the various dishes in 60 households that accepted to take part in the study in Maroua city. Proximate contents (moisture, ash and protein) were determined by standard Association of Official Analytical Chemists (AOAC) methods. Mineral contents: calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), sodium (Na), potassium (K), iron (Fe), copper (Cu), zinc (Zn), and manganese (Mn) were determined by atomic absorption spectrophotometry, phosphorous (P) by colorimetry. Amino acids were determined by ion-exchange chromatography. Results revealed that proximate composition expressed in g/100 g wet weight basis ranged between 70.4–84.8 (moisture), 0.3–1.3 (ash) and 2.2–5.1 (protein); mineral contents expressed in mg/100 g dry weight ranged between 60.3–150.5 (Ca), 80.4–131.9 (Mg), 231.3–361.0 (P), 3.0–16.9 (Na), 1290.0–2753.0 (K), 4.3–8.5 (Fe), 0.7–2.0 (Zn), 0.2–0.3 (Cu), and 0.7–1.6 (Mn). Total amino acid contents ranged between 138.2–278.8 mg/g protein for essential amino acids, and 455.8–500.6 mg/g protein for non-essential amino acids. In general, when peanut and cowpea were added to the preparation, the protein, mineral and amino acid contents were significantly increased.


  • Proximate composition;
  • Minerals;
  • Amino acids;
  • Traditional foods;
  • Pumpkin;
  • Cucurbita maxima;
  • Cameroon;
  • Food analysis;
  • Food composition

1. Introduction

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the world production of pumpkins, squashes, and gourds in 2011 was estimated at over 24.3 million tons harvested from 1.7 million ha (FAOSTAT, 2013). There are three common types of pumpkin worldwide: Cucurbita pepo, Cucurbita maxima and Cucurbita moschata ( Lee et al., 2003). Pumpkin (C. maxima) is an angiosperm that belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family. It is a climbing herbaceous vine with tendrils ( Acquaah, 2004). The fruits vary in size, color, shape and weight and have a moderately hard rind, with a thick edible flesh, and numerous seeds in the fruit which are either plump and tan, or soft and white ( Robinson and Decker-Walters, 1997 and Mohammed and Alfawaz, 2004). This important horticultural commodity is not commercially cultivated on a large scale in Cameroon. However, local populations grow it on the roofs of their houses or in their kitchen gardens and use the matured fruits as a vegetable. The leaves, fruits, flowers and seeds are health-promoting food. Different parts of the plant have been used as medicine in some developed countries ( Mukesh et al., 2010).
Several studies have reported the nutritive value of the pumpkin and its varieties from different regions. For example, Achu et al. (2005) reported that cucurbit seeds, from different bioclimatic regions in Cameroon, contained 28–40% protein, 44–53% fat and 7–10% carbohydrate and could therefore be exploited as oil and protein sources. Younis et al. (2000) reported that the seed of Cucurbita pepo is rich in oil, carbohydrates and α-tocopherol, while the four dominant fatty acids present in the oil were palmitic 13.3%, stearic 8%, oleic 29% and linoleic 47%. The bright orange color indicates that pumpkin flesh is high in β-carotene ( Mukesh et al., 2010), which is converted to vitamin A in the human body ( Weinstein et al., 2004). The body needs vitamin A for proper growth, healthy eyes and protection from diseases ( Semba, 2001). Pumpkin is also rich in vitamin C, vitamin E, lycopene and dietary fiber ( Pratt and Matthews, 2003). These facts suggest that the processing of pumpkin into various food products can be benefits in many ways. Pumpkin (C. maxima) pulp has been used to supplement cereal flours in bakery products ( Adriana and Simona, 2014).
In Maroua, a city of the Far-North region of Cameroon, ripe pumpkin is cooked as a vegetable, and many traditional dishes are also prepared using pumpkin pulp. However, there is a lack of information about the nutritional value of this fruit. In fact, knowledge of the nutritive value of local dishes, soup ingredients and local foodstuffs is necessary in order to encourage the increased cultivation and consumption of those that are highly nutritive. The present work focused on nutrients important to the diet of nutritionally vulnerable populations and found in the dishes, namely proteins, minerals and amino acids. Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate the protein, mineral and amino acid content of some traditional dishes of the Far-North region of Cameroon prepared using pumpkin.