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The effect of processing on the proximate composition, anti-nutrient levels and mineral
contents of finger millet seed (Eleusine coracana) were analyzed. Diets containing processed
finger millet seed (71.4g) per 100g feed were fed to four different groups of weaner rabbit for
56days. Animals’ fed diet containing unprocessed finger millet seed were used as negative
control group and animals’ fed diet containing casein (standard protein) were used as positive
control group respectively. Effect of processing methods like soaking, boiling, fermenting and
roasting on the finger millet seeds significantly (p<0.05) reduced the anti-nutrient substances
like tannins, saponins, phytate and oxalate when compared with their values from the
unprocessed finger millet seed. Protein quality parameter’s observed in the animals fed diet
containing processed finger millet seeds like True Digestibity (TD), Biological Value (BV) and
Net Protein Utilization (NPU) increased in the following order; Roasted finger millet seed
(98.41±0.55, 54.85±2.23 and 54.26±2.48), Boiled finger millet seed (95.57±0.93, 52.88±0.96
and 50.13±0.97), Fermented finger millet seed (95.18±0.28, 52.52±1.81 and 49.97±1.67), and
Soaked finger millet seed (94.52±0.55, 50.63±0.96 and 47.99±2.46). In conclusion, the results
indicated that roasting treatment is the best processing method on finger millet seed for better
utilization of its protein content, while fermentation is best in reducing the anti-nutrients
Finger millet (Eleusine coracana), typically a tropical crop, belongs to the group of
minor cereals. It is mainly consumed in India and Africa. It is an important cereal
because of the excellent storage properties of the grain and the nutritive value, which is
higher than that of rice and equal to that of wheat (Van Wyk and Gericke, 2000). It is
also a good source of micronutrients like calcium, iron, phosphorus, zinc and potassium.
Due to the presence of anti-nutrients in grains such as tannins and phytates, these
micronutrients are less bioaccessable (Harris and Burns 1978).
Among millets, finger millet was reported to contain high amounts of tannins
(Ramachandra et al., 1977), ranging from 0.04 to 3.47 per cent (cataechin equivalent).
Poor iron availability (represented by low ionizable iron) in finger millets are due to
their high tannin content which adversely affect the nutritional quality of the grains
(Udayasekhara Rao and Deosthale, 1988). Tannins reduced apparently digestibility of
protein and energy (Jansman et al., 1993). Cyanide readily and reversibly binds to a
number of enzymes and proteins containing iron including haemoglobin, myoglobin,
catalase and the cytochrome system (Ahmed et al., 1996; Uvere, et al., 2000).
Phytate interference with mineral absorption, especially calcium and zinc has been
reported (Doherty et al., 1982).
Oxalates affect calcium and magnesium metabolism (Oke, 1969), and react with
protein to form complexes which have an inhibitory effect on peptic digestion (Oboh,
1986). Saponins act on the cardiovascular and nervous system as well as the digestive
system (Gestener, et al., 1966). Another anti-nutritional factor that affect the availability
of some nutrients is phytate, a naturally occurring phosphorus compound which
significantly influences the functional and nutritional properties of foods. It is the main
phosphorus store in mature seeds. Phytate has a strong binding capacity, readily
forming complexes with multivalent cations and proteins.
Most of the metal complexes are insoluble at physiological pH. Hence, phytate binding
renders several minerals biologically unavailable to animals and humans. However,
these anti-nutrients can be removed by processing techniques such as; germination,
soaking, roasting, fermentation, dehulling among others. Sankara Rao and Deosthale
(1983) observed that malting of the grain reduced the phytin phosphorus in finger
millet. This reduction was accompanied by significant increase in ionizable iron and
soluble zinc, indicating the improved availability of these two elements.
1.2 STATEMENT OF RESEARCH PROBLEM
Bioavailability of some nutrients in food supplements prepared from finger millet seeds
is severely limited by the presence of anti-nutrients such as tannins, phytates, oxalates,
cyanides and saponins. (Gibbs-Russell et al., 1989).
The high cost of infant formulae has been a problem to poor people in our society.
Hence the need for low cost ingredients that are nutritious and readily available.
Processing methods like (boiling, soaking, roasting, fermenting.) that reduce the antinutrient
content of the seed enhance biological availability of the nutrients and by
extension the nutritional value of the seed.