Thursday, November 11, 2021

Water spinach

Green leafy vegetables have been recognised as rich source of micronutrients (minerals and vitamins) and antioxidants.

Water spinach (Ipomoea aquatica Forssk.), family Convolvulaceae, is one of the most important vegetables in the tropics of South-East-Asia as well as in Japan, Australia and some regions of Africa. In middle Europe there is a rising demand for such vegetables.

This species is mostly associated with wetlands. Ipomoea aquatica is a freshwater, semiaquatic herbaceous plant that floats on the water surface. Adventitious roots hang freely from stem nodes, which provide the primary means of dispersal when these nodes break free from the main plant. It grows in ponds, marshes, swamps, very moist soils, ditches, and on stream banks.

The leaves are alternate and are either heart- or arrowhead-shaped. The plant can grow as an annual or perennial.

The herbs have been a medicinal vegetable in southern Asia since at least A.D. 300, and perhaps since 200 B.C. People still gather plants from the wild and cultivate them. With European arrival in these regions in the late 1400s, they became aware of this medicinal food and began carrying water spinach around the world.

The leaves and the tender stems are edible and are cooked and fried. The shoots have a high content of protein (3 g/100g fresh weight), calcium (81 mg/100 g fresh weight), provitamin A (4000-10.000 IU) and vitamin C (30 -100 mg/100 g fresh weight).

Steamed water spinach extracted with 80% ethanol had the highest amounts of 35.0 mg/g total chlorophylls, 7.1 mg/g carotenoids, 35.6 mg/g total polyphenols, and 40.4 mg/g total flavonoids. The steaming process showed higher antioxidant activity than the un-cooking or boiling process.
Water spinach

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