|dc.description.abstract||Adequate nutrition is widely recognized as an essential element for a healthy and productive lifestyle. However, poor nutrition, which leads to preventable health challenges, remains a critical global challenge. Over two billion persons worldwide suffer from micronutrient deficiencies, with many at risk of problems resulting from deficiencies in vitamins A and B, iodine, zinc, and iron. Despite the recent rigorous food and nutrition intervention programs to tackle protein and energy malnutrition (PEM) as well as micronutrient deficiency, the challenges continue to rise. Compromised diets that mainly rely on starchy foods such as maize without other rich sources of essential protein, vitamins and minerals are among the leading factors contributing to the burden of morbidity and mortality associated with malnutrition among the rural population sub-Saharan Africa South Africa inclusive. Malnutrition especially micronutrient deficiencies mostly affects young children and women of childbearing age. Moringa Oleifera (M.O) commonly known as Moringa is reported to offer highly nutritious food components. The plant originates from India and is generally used more as a medicinal plant than as food. Moringa can be found in many parts of the world, including southern Africa. Its leaves can be processed into powder, enabling its use as a nutrient supplement in foods. Although the Moringa oleifera plant is well known as an excellent nutrient source, its acceptability for use in Mahewu (a South African non-alcoholic beverage) has not been tested. All age groups popularly consume Mahewu as a refreshing and filling drink. It is prepared in most rural households, especially during summer seasons, by fermenting cooked maize meal (porridge) to produce a desired sensory attribute (sour taste). This study investigated the effects of incorporating Moringa oleifera leaf powder (MOLP) as a nutritional supplement in Mahewu, with a focus on the nutritional composition and consumer acceptability of the resulting supplemented beverage. The study was conducted at Ntambanana, KwaZulu-Natal, a rural area in South Africa where Moringa is grown. A survey of 46 randomly selected households was undertaken to investigate the utilization and perceptions of Moringa oleifera. The survey was complemented by focus group discussions of 1-12 individuals from randomly selected households. Moreover, key informant interviews were used to further verify the utilization of Mahewu and perception of Moringa oleifera. A standard recipe for preparing one litre of Mahewu was developed based on the recipe used by indigenous people. This was used to prepare reference samples for all the experiments. Beside the control sample, three prototypes of MOLP-supplemented Mahewu at 2%, 4%, and 6% ratios respectively were prepared for nutritional analysis. The nutritional composition of the control and MOLP supplemented samples (0%, 2%, 4%, and 6 %) were determined by the standard methods of the Association of Official Analytical Chemists (AOAC). The proximate and the selected mineral content were determined. A sensory evaluation was conducted using 52 untrained panellists who were Mahewu consumers. The consumption of Mahewu was reported to be at its highest peak in summer (43.5%), and lowest in autumn (2.2%). Chi-square test analysis revealed a significant difference (p < 0.05) between the frequency in consumption and the reason for its consumption. There was a low addition of nutritive food items or fortification of the drink (Mahewu), as 84% of the respondent’s only added sugar when preparing the beverage as a fermentation enhancer and for taste, only 2.2% added fruits, while 13.3% add nothing to their Mahewu drink. Fortification of the beverage is important because the community mostly relied on locally produced (conventional) maize which was processed into maize meal for use in preparing Mahewu, and only bought fortified maize after their harvesting period was over. Conventional maize tends to be inadequate in nutritional value and could hence increase the risks of hidden hunger if consumed without any supplementation or fortification. It was surprising that although Moringa was planted in the community, 78.3% of the locals did not know much about its properties as a highly nutritious plant. Findings of nutritional analysis reveals that proximate and selected minerals contents of raw materials were high in MOLP; p<0.05 compared to maize meal. Consequently increased concentration of MOLP in mahewu, macronutrient and selected mineral content of supplemented samples were enhanced significantly p<0.05. The percentage increase of selected minerals include: Calcium 350 in 2% sample, 700 in 4% sample and 950 in 6% sample, respectively. Iron 105.76 in 2% sample, 213.46 in 4% sample and 286.54 in 6% sample, respectively. Manganese: 2% sample 28.57, 4% sample 35.71 and 6% sample 50, respectively.
Sensory evaluation revealed that the, MOLP-supplemented Mahewu at 2% and 4% MOLP concentration were found to be as acceptable similar to the conventionally prepared Mahewu. The investigation therefore conclude that incorporation of MOLP in Mahewu substantially enhances mahewu nutritional value without compromising its acceptability. However in future study, 6% MOLP sample might need to be masked for better acceptability with respect to the aroma, taste and color.||en_US