Uchenna Agatha ONYECHI, Peter ELLIS, Patricia Ann JUDD


Detarium microcarpium is a leguminous plant food used traditionally among the Ibos in the South Eastern part of Nigeria as a thickening agent in vegetable soups. Detarium is largely uncharacterised and under exploited. There is a dearth of information in the literature on this plant food. The aim of the study is to process, analyze and characterise detarium flour; screen detarium using rats to investigate it’s physiological effect on the general metabolism of rats, compare detarium to guar gum (GG) as a positive control, to determine the effects of the two foods on the plasma cholesterol level of rats. The result of the analysis showed that powdered detarium has a mean particle size of 464µm. The SNSP content per 100 g food sample was 59.8 g. The viscosity of 1% aqueous dispersion of the powdered detarium food sample obtained using the U tube capillary viscometer was 4000 – 24000 cp. The main SNSP fraction of detarium was identified to be a high molecular weight xyloglucan. In the rat study, the experimental diet contained detarium or guar gum, as positive control, at a level providing 80g soluble NSP/kg diet. Food intake, faecal output, weight gain, digestibility, food efficiency ratio and plasma cholesterol (after overnight fasting) were measured. The result showed that the cholesterol levels of rats fed detarium and guar gum diets were significantly lower than the control (P < 0.05) using the analysis of variance. Detarium and guar gum covariates such as weight gain, food intake and faecal output. The results obtained indicate that detarium may possess properties as guar gum which maybe useful in the management of diabetes and disorders of lipid metabolism in humans.

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