Evaluation of Minerals, Phytochemical Compounds and Antioxidant Activity of Mexican, Central American, and African Green Leafy Vegetables

Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2015 Dec;70(4):357-64. doi: 10.1007/s11130-015-0512-7.


The green leafy vegetables Cnidoscolus aconitifolius and Crotalaria longirostrata are native to Mexico and Central America, while Solanum scabrum and Gynandropsis gynandra are native to Africa. They are consumed in both rural and urban areas in those places as a main food, food ingredient or traditional medicine. Currently, there is limited information about their nutritional and phytochemical composition. Therefore, mineral, vitamin C, phenolic and flavonoid concentration, and antioxidant activity were evaluated in multiple accessions of these leafy vegetables, and their mineral and vitamin C contribution per serving was calculated. The concentrations of Ca, K, Mg and P in these leafy vegetables were 0.82-2.32, 1.61-7.29, 0.61-1.48 and 0.27-1.44 mg/g fresh weight (FW), respectively. The flavonoid concentration in S. scabrum accessions was up to 1413 μg catechin equivalents/g FW, while the highest antioxidant activities were obtained in C. longirostrata accessions (52-60 μmol Trolox equivalents/g FW). According to guidelines established by the US Food and Drug Administration, a serving size (30 g FW) of C. longirostrata would be considered an excellent source of Mo (20 % or more of the daily value), and a serving of any of these green leafy vegetables would be an excellent source of vitamin C. Considering the importance of the minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants in human health and their presence in these indigenous green leafy vegetables, efforts to promote their consumption should be implemented.

Keywords: Antioxidant activity; Flavonoids; Leafy vegetables; Minerals; Phenolics; Vitamin C.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Africa
  • Antioxidants / analysis*
  • Ascorbic Acid / analysis
  • Central America
  • Cleome / chemistry
  • Crotalaria / chemistry
  • Euphorbiaceae / chemistry
  • Flavonoids / analysis
  • Food
  • Humans
  • Medicine, Traditional
  • Mexico
  • Minerals / analysis*
  • Phenols / analysis
  • Phytochemicals / analysis*
  • Plant Leaves / chemistry
  • Solanum / chemistry
  • Vegetables / chemistry*


  • Antioxidants
  • Flavonoids
  • Minerals
  • Phenols
  • Phytochemicals
  • Ascorbic Acid