Cowpea (Vigna unguiculata L. Walp), a renewed multipurpose crop for a more sustainable agri-food system: nutritional advantages and constraints

J Sci Food Agric. 2016 Jul;96(9):2941-51. doi: 10.1002/jsfa.7644. Epub 2016 Mar 1.


The growing awareness of the relevance of food composition for human health has increased the interest of the inclusion of high proportions of fruits and vegetables in diets. To reach the objective of more balanced diets, an increased consumption of legumes, which constitutes a sustainable source of essential nutrients, particularly low-cost protein, is of special relevance. However, the consumption of legumes also entails some constraints that need to be addressed to avoid a deleterious impact on consumers' wellbeing and health. The value of legumes as a source of nutrients depends on a plethora of factors, including genetic characteristics, agro-climatic conditions, and postharvest management that modulate the dietary effect of edible seeds and vegetative material. Thus, more comprehensive information regarding composition, especially their nutritional and anti-nutritional compounds, digestibility, and alternative processing procedures is essential. These were the challenges to write this review, which focusses on the nutritional and anti-nutritional composition of Vigna unguiculata L. Walp, an emerging crop all over the world intended to provide a rational support for the development of valuable foods and feeds of increased commercial value. © 2016 Society of Chemical Industry.

Keywords: anti-nutrients; cowpea; digestibility; legumes; nutritional content.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animal Feed / adverse effects
  • Animal Feed / analysis
  • Animals
  • Climate Change
  • Conservation of Natural Resources*
  • Crops, Agricultural / adverse effects
  • Crops, Agricultural / chemistry*
  • Crops, Agricultural / growth & development
  • Crops, Agricultural / metabolism
  • Digestion
  • Food Handling
  • Global Health*
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Absorption
  • Nutritive Value
  • Phytic Acid / adverse effects
  • Phytic Acid / analysis
  • Phytic Acid / metabolism
  • Phytochemicals / adverse effects
  • Phytochemicals / analysis*
  • Phytochemicals / metabolism
  • Plant Components, Aerial / adverse effects
  • Plant Components, Aerial / chemistry
  • Plant Components, Aerial / growth & development
  • Plant Components, Aerial / metabolism
  • Proanthocyanidins / adverse effects
  • Proanthocyanidins / analysis
  • Proanthocyanidins / metabolism
  • Seeds / adverse effects
  • Seeds / chemistry*
  • Seeds / growth & development
  • Seeds / metabolism
  • Vigna / adverse effects
  • Vigna / chemistry*
  • Vigna / growth & development
  • Vigna / metabolism


  • Phytochemicals
  • Proanthocyanidins
  • Phytic Acid