Phytochemical and Nutritional Evaluation of Cucurbita Maxima and Citrullus Lanatus in Wistar Rats
Ileagu, U. C.
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Fruits and vegetables are eaten world over and serve as nutrient supplements. This study compared the nutritional and phytochemical contents of the pulp of C. lanatus dried at 45°C and C. maxima dried at 45°C and 100°C and their effect on the biochemical, haematological, histopathological and growth performance parameters of Wistar rats after feeding with 5% and 10% ratios. The results showed that proximate composition of C. lanatus and most especially C. maxima dried at 45°C and 100°C are a good source of ash, fibre and minerals such as sodium, potassium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and calcium. Phytochemical analysis reveals that the pulp of both fruits are a good source of flavonoids, phenolics, saponins, alkaloids and other secondary metabolites of which C. maxima contained higher values in most contents when compared with C. lanatus. This trend was also observed in the GC-MS Analysis of other secondary metabolites in both fruits. The acute toxicity test of the dried pulp of C. maxima dried at 45°C and 100°C and C. lanatus dried at 45°C showed no death in the rats up to 10000mg/kg body weight of the pulp. Blood samples and organ investigations were carried out using standard laboratory tests. The result revealed that C. lanatus dried at 45°C and C. maxima dried at 100°C significantly affected the parameters of rats in these groups with beneficial effects on their vital organs and blood. The concentrations of the PCV, platelets, white blood cells and granulocytes significantly increased (p<0.05), while it significantly reduced the concentrations of the PDW and MPV. It also non-significantly decreased mean weights of the liver and the kidneys of the diet incorporated groups when compared with the control group. Rats fed with C. maxima dried at 45°C had significantly lower plasma levels of ALT (p<0.05), but slightly elevated (p<0.05) serum enzyme activity of ALT, AST and ALP. Renal function indices – serum creatinine, urea and electrolytes were not significantly different (p>0.05) between control and diet incorporated groups. Histopathological examination show mild inflammation of the liver and kidney of rats fed with 5% and 10% C. maxima dried at 45°C. These results therefore, indicate a compromise of the liver and kidney of rats on C. maxima dried at 45°C based diet. There was a significant increase in the body weight gain of all groups at the end of the experiment though with a significant difference in the feed intake between the test groups and the control. In conclusion, the established superior beneficial nutritional composition of C. maxima pulp over C. lanatus can contribute immensely to recommended daily allowance and maintenance of good nutritional status and good health for both man and animals and should therefore be promoted due to their high nutritional value. However, C. maxima should not be consumed raw as its counterpart is due to long term toxic effect.