Nutritional components and antioxidants of two species of guaje (Leucaena spp.): an underutilized traditional resource
The guaje (Leucaena spp.), a leguminous plant with edible seeds, is a traditional resource underutilized by Mesoamerican peoples. The nutritional and nutraceutical value of the guaje is unknown despite being consumed by rural people today in mainly central and southern Mexico. The aim of this study was to assess the mineral, nutritional and antioxidant contents of the red guaje (L. esculenta Benth.) and green guaje (L. leucocephala Lam.) in order to contribute to a reevaluation of their food properties. Their anthocyanin, flavonoid, total phenol, and tannin contents, as well as their antioxidant activity and proximate and mineral composition, were quantified. Red guaje seeds outperformed green guaje ones in N, Mg, Mn, P and Zn contents; by contrast, green guaje seeds had higher Na and Fe levels. Crude fiber content was 10.55 and 10.07 % in red and green guaje, respectively, while protein content was 33.12 % and 31.7 %, respectively. The high content of phenolic compounds was greater in the fresh red guaje seeds (1,088.70 mg gallic acid equivalents [GAE]·100 g-1 FW) than in the green ones (969.09 mg GAE·100 g-1 FW), but the latter had a greater amount of tannins. The high free radical scavenging activity (97.22 to 98.11 %) obtained by the ABTS (2.2 ‘-azino-bis (3-ethylbenzthiazoline)-6-sulfonic acid) method may be associated with the content of phenolic compounds. In conclusion, guaje seeds could be considered as a functional food, but mainly the red guaje ones due to their nutritional quality and higher antioxidant activity.