Background: The assessment of underexploited leaves has become crucial to supplement the rapidly depleting sources of bioactive components as well as provide available nutrient sources for local inhabitants.
Methods: This study thus investigated the bioactive components of the oil, and fatty acid composition, free radical scavenging potentials, and protein qualities of leaves of Z. mays and G. celosioides using standard methods. The bioactive components of the oils and fatty acids were determined by Gas Chromatograpy, while the amino acid and in-vitro antioxidant potentials were determined using a Technicon Sequential Multi-Sample (TSM) Amino Acid Analyzer, and spectrophotometer, respectively.
Results: The Z. Mays leaves showed abundance of farnesene, hexadecanoic acids, and caryophellene while G. celosioides produced high level of octadecadienoic acid, hexadecanoic acid, and phytol. Z. mays and G. celosioides contained 72.48% and 60.55% unsaturated fatty acids respectively, with abundance of linolenic acid for Z. mays and oleic acid for G. celosioides. Result for the in vitro antioxidant % inhibition showed a concentration dependent free radical scavenging potentials of the leaves. Both G. celosioides and Z. mays produced greater 1,1-diphenyl-2- picrylhydrazyl (DPPH), and hydrogen peroxide radical scavenging potentials than ascorbic acid, while at 40ppm the nitric oxide and 2,2-azino-bis(3-ethylbenzthiazoline-6-sulphonic acid) (ABTS) radical % inhibition of Z. mays leaves were lower than those for ascorbic acid. The amount of essential amino acids in both plants were 48.20 and 39.25 g/100g, total branched chain amino acids (TBCAA) were 21.15 and 16.92 g/100g, predicted protein efficiency ratios (P-PERs) were in the range of 3.02-3.23 and 2.68-2.77, and the essential amino acid index (EAAI) were 1.52 and 1.48, for Z. mays and G. celosioides leaves respectively.
Conclusion: From these results, the utilization of Z. mays and G. celosioides for high quality protein, unsaturated fatty acids and potent antioxidant sources, should be massively encouraged.