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  • Author or Editor: M. Jalaluddin x
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Foods from plants can provide enough energy and essential nutrients for maintaining human health as well as for prevention of many serious diseases. Many exotic vegetables are known for their special nutritional and medicinal properties. Bitter Melon (Momordica charantia L.), an annual vegetable of Cucurbitaceae family, is found to be one of the important vegetables of special nutritional and medicinal qualities. Germplasm lines and land races of Bitter Melon were evaluated in 2000 and 2001 for their adaptability in Southeast Arkansas. Seven adaptable lines/varieties were tested in replicated field trials for productivity at the Univ. of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Agricultural Research Center in 2002 and 2003. Melons were harvested at their marketable stages beginning in June and ending in September for yield estimation. Nutritional qualities of Bitter Melons were examined by chemical analyses conducted at the Univ. of Arkansas, Fayetteville (UAF) Food Science Laboratory. Analyses for antioxidants and other compounds as well as cooking qualities are currently underway. Several recipes have been tasted for consumer acceptance. The popular belief of bitter melon to improve glucose tolerance in Type II diabetes and lower blood cholesterol are being investigated. It is still to be determined if the chemical constituents such as certain alkaloids and polypeptides found in bitter melons are effective individually or in combination.

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Bitter melon (Momordica charantia L.), an annual vegetable of Cucurbitaceae family, is a vegetable with important nutritional and medicinal qualities. Four adaptable lines/varieties were tested in replicated field trials for productivity, and biochemical and medicinal characteristics at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. The total phenolic contents of the oven-dried and freeze-dried tissues, and seeds, ranged from 5.39–7.75, 6.72–8.02, 6.40–8.90, and 4.67–6.69 mg·g-1 on a dry weight basis, respectively. The total phenolic content of bitter melon from India green (IG), India white (IW), China green (CG) and China white (CW) varieties were 4.67–6.72, 6.03–8.02, 5.39–7.81, and 6.69–8.90 mg·g-1 dry material, respectively. The main phenolic acids in bitter melon flesh were gallic acid, gentisic acid, catechin, chlorogenic acid, and epicatechin. Bitter melon seeds had the phenolic acids, gallic acid, catechin, and epicatechin. The antioxidant activities of methanolic extracts from the bitter melons varieties IG, IW, CG, and CW ranged from 79% to 85%, 79% to 83, 80% to 85, and 79% to 86% inhibition, respectively. The antioxidant activities of the seed ranged from 79% to 84% inhibition. Methanolic extracts of freeze-dried flesh and seed from var. IW and CG showed very high antimutagenic effects against benzo(a)pyrene with Salmonella TA98 (92% to 100% inhibition) TA100 (79% to 86% inhibition), but lower antimutagenicity activities against sodium azide that ranged from 46% to 54% and 17% to 32% inhibition, respectively. The popular belief that bitter melon improves glucose tolerance in Type II diabetes and lowers blood cholesterol is being investigated. It has not been determined which alkaloids, polypeptides, or combination of chemicals found in bitter melon are responsible for the beneficial medicinal effect.

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The antibacterial activity of artificially grown sweetpotato [Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.] leaves was investigated against both gram positive and gram negative bacteria namely Escherichia coli (O157:H7), Bacillus and Ecolai using three different cultivars, which are developed to use as a leafy vegetables namely Simon-1, Kyushu-119 and Elegant Summer. The sweetpotato leaves were grown under different temperatures (20 °C, 25 °C, and 30 °C) and artificial shading (O%, 40% and 80%) conditions. There were some cultivar differences but the lyophilized leaf powder (100 mg) from all the cultivars in the Trypto Soya Broth cultivation medium (10 mL) strongly suppressed the growth of all the bacteria studied and its effect was detectable even after autoclave treatment. But the antibacterial extract of the leaves had no effect on the growth of five types of bifidobacterium useful for human health. The water extracted antibacterial fractions from all the cultivars were viscous and the color was brown. Furthermore, the leaves grown under moderate low temperature (20 °C) with 0% shading treatments strongly suppressed the bacterial growth as comported to other treatments, which was accompanied by significantly high accumulation of sugar and polyphenol contents in the leaves. The results also suggest that there were a strong relationship among bacterial growth and antioxidatative compounds in the sweetpotato leaves. Therefore, the antibacterial action of sweetpotato leaves may depend on their antioxidative compounds or/and pectin like materials. Thus, the practical use of sweetpotato leaves is expected to prevent bacteria caused food poisoning.

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Sweetpotato leaves contain biologically active anthocyanins that have significant medicinal value for certain human diseases and may also be used as natural food colorants. Foliar anthocyanins and their relative abundance were investigated in leaves of sweetpotato cultivars `Shimon-1', `Kyushu-119', and `Elegant Summer' grown under artificial shading and different temperature conditions. High-performance liquid chromatography profiles of the cultivars tested showed similar peaks but with peak areas differing with cultivar, temperature and shading. The relative quantity of individual anthocyanin was YGM (Yamagawamurashaki)-1a> YGM-4b> YGM-1b> YGM-5a> YGM-0d> YGM-0a> YGM-2> YGM-0c> YGM-3> YGM-6> YGM-5b> YGM-0b> YGM-0f> YGM-0e> YGM-0g. Seven were peonidin and eight cyanidin derivatives. The highest anthocyanin contents were found in plants grown at a moderate temperature (20 °C) with lower levels at 25 and 30 °C. The leaves of plants grown in full sun accumulated significantly more total as well as the major individual anthocyanins than plants grown in 40% and 80% shade. The results indicate that growing sweetpotatoes at moderate temperatures and without shading facilitates the accumulation of anthocyanins in the leaves. The anthocyanin composition of the leaves is discussed relative to their physiological function in human health.

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