The nutritional quality of traditional and modified traditional foods in KwaZulu-Natal.
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The role of traditional foods in reducing hunger and malnutrition is not well documented in South Africa. The aim of this study was to investigate the distribution, popularity and nutritional value of traditional foods in KwaZulu-Natal through evaluation of recipes submitted for a traditional foods recipe competition. Traditional recipes are characterised by indigenous or local ingredients passed from one person to another over many generations, with little or no change in form. Modern recipes include those which use processed ingredients. Modified recipes include those which use processed ingredients. Modified recipes include a mixture of traditional and modern ingredients. The differences between the ingredients of traditional, modern and modified recipes were investigated to determine how modifying and modernising traditional foods changed their nutritional quality. Using competition entries from a traditional recipe competition from all 11 districts of KwaZulu-Natal, the nutritional value of 1200 recipes was analysed using published Food Composition Tables. The 10 most commonly submitted recipes were identified. The majority of recipes came from the more rural districts of KwaZulu-Natal. The largest number of recipes submitted were traditional (68% of entries) followed, respectively, by modified (24%) and modern (8 %) recipes. Adult females submitted more recipes than female youths, male youths and adult males. In general, modified foods had higher nutrient contents than traditional and modern foods. There was a negative correlation between food popularity and nutrient content suggesting that popular foods were not necessarily the most nutritious. It was concluded that the people of KwaZulu-Natal simultaneously use traditional, modified and modern recipes, but that there is a shift towards food modification through use of non-indigenous crops and modern ingredients. Further investigations into the relationship between food choice and the effect of modification on food quality attributes, including sensory and storage quality, are recommended.
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