Ascertaining the general uses and nutritional composition of desert date (Balanites aegyptiaca) identified in the West Gonja District of Ghana

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August, 2016)
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A study was conducted to identify the general uses and determine the nutritional components of oil nuts, fruit pulp and leaves of Balanites aegyptiaca. Information on general uses of the plant (Balanites aegyptiaca) was collected through household survey using a semi structured questionnaire. A total of 100 respondents comprising both females and males were interviewed. The results indicated that 60% of respondents use the leaves of the plant for soup, 93% of respondents lick the pulp of the fruits and none of the respondents has ever extracted oil from the nuts. Fresh leaves and dried fruits of Desert date (Balanites aegyptiaca) were collected from the study area and their nutritional compositions were determined. The fruits pulp had 15.57% of moisture, 84.43% of dry matter, 8.87% of ash, 0.97% of crude fat, 6.71% of crude protein, 5.19% of crude fiber, 83.45% of carbohydrate, 348.61% of energy, 78.26% of nitrogen free extract and 0.453mg/g of vitamin C. However, the leaves had 61.78% of moisture, 38.21% of dry matter, 8.92% of ash, 1.94% of crude fat, 30.77% of crude protein, 14.22% of crude fiber, 58.37% of carbohydrate, 317.11% of energy, 44.16% of nitrogen free extract and 0.490mg/g of vitamin C. There were significant differences (p < 0.05) between the fruits and leaves with respect to nutritional composition except for ash content (p > 0.05). 12kg of dried nuts was processed to extract the oil. The percentage of oil extracted from the 12kg of nuts was 44%. Physicochemical properties that were determined from the oil were moisture content (0.15%), free fatty acid such as oleic (1.73%), peroxide value (7.96meq/kg) and vitamin C (52.22mg/g).The experimental design used was completely randomized design (CRD). In conclusion, the leaves and fruits pulp of the desert date plant contain some nutritional components for human consumption. I recommend that, further research should be conducted on the edible oil of the nuts of the plant.
A thesis submitted to The School of Research and Graduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Master of Philosophy (Post-Harvest Technology) Degree.