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Adding Nutrition in Our Daily Diet

In the eighth Eri-Youth Festival different innovation and creativity works were exhibited. Among the findings that attracted our attention was value added bread developed by Mrs. Selam Estifanos and Mrs. Aryam Tsegay. They are students of the College of Marine Science and Technology (CMST). They have shared their research with us.

  • How did you come up with this idea?

Most Eritreans have bread in their daily diet. And the bread we eat usually contains only carbohydrates. So when we were on duty to work on a research paper, in partial fulfillment of our undergraduate degree, we came up with the idea of developing bread nourished with pumpkin flour. In Eritrea, despite its benefits, most of the time, the seeds of pumpkins are thrown away. Only few consume them by roasting because they believe they are medicinal. Pumpkin seed is rich in protein and using pumpkin seed flour will help increase its utilization by making different products. This will also have a great role in the minimization of nutritional losses.

  • Why is your research important?

There is concern about a worldwide hunger and malnutrition, in the coming decades driving the global agricultural development agenda and policies. So nutrition objectives must be integrated to better ensure healthy outcomes for people in developing countries. When we see it in a broad context, stunting, mental and physical underdevelopment in child growth and several forms of malnutrition characterized by low height-for-age, present a major hurdle to development efforts in the long run. Stunted children have reduced productivity and lifetime earnings and are faced with increased risk of infectious diseases and greater likelihood of poor school performance. For our good health, we need to consume sufficient nutrients in our daily intake. Besides, research of this kind could help reduce the nutritional deficiencies in our country.

Moreover, this research could bring product diversification for this plant. This product can be grown at home gardens and farms. In addition to the nutrition they get from the value to the added bread, households could earn money by harvesting this plant. So we hope that our project will contribute to this effect.

  • Can you tell us about the selection and preparation procedure?

In Eritrea, pumpkin plant is an annual plant with leafy green vegetable. Pumpkin fruits are variable in size, color, shape and weight. Pumpkin has received considerable attention in recent years because of the nutritional and health values of the seeds. Pumpkin seeds are consumed directly as snack food in many cultures throughout the world.

We searched for the best pumpkin seeds and selected three varieties. The seed varieties were Cucurbita Ddigitata, Cucurbita Maxima and Cucurbita Pepo that were purchased from Asmara local market, and then the seeds were cleaned properly and milled. We have done all the proximate analysis of the seed varieties and preparation of the value added bread was dependent on the protein content of the one variety, Cucurbita Maxima that was found to have the highest protein value, which was 37.66%. The bread prepared with a ratio of 1:2 (pumpkin to wheat) had the best sensory scores of appearance, color, texture, taste, flavor and general acceptability which were 6:9, 7:1, 6:9, 6.5:7 and 7:1 respectively.

We have made bread with the pumpkin seed flour that had the highest amount of protein, which was the roasted Cucurbita Maximum seed. Wheat flour is mixed with the pumpkin seed flour to reduce the aloe taste caused by the high protein content.

  • What’s your assessment of the current state of your project and what kind of response have you gotten to your research / findings?

The bread was made in the same way as the normal bread that is prepared in CMST which weighs 100 grams. The only difference between the normal bread and the bread with added value was the addition of pumpkin seed flour in different ratios.

The bread we made is enriched with carbohydrate, protein and vitamins. So when we eat a loaf of the bread, we get the same nutritional value we get from bread and fried eggs. This has great economic value to the low income households that can’t afford to buy expensive food stuff.

We carried out sensory analysis of our bread on voluntary people. The response we have received so far is encouraging.

  • What remains of your research/ finding you want to develop in the future?

Even though we have done the proximate analysis of the pumpkin seeds and the bread was prepared using the seed variety that had the highest protein value (Cucurbita Maxima), we haven’t determined the nutritional value of the our bread. So for farther study the determination of the nutritional content of the bread has to be determined. The shelf life of the bread needs to be determined. Finally, our future project is to do a complete work of our research and commercialize the product.

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