Nutrient content and potential contribution of one average portion towards nutritional requirements
(recommended dietary allowance; RDA) of eight African leafy vegetables (ALVs) was determined.
Compared to dark-green leafy vegetables (DGLVs) as sub-group, calcium and magnesium content were
similar or considerably higher, vitamin C content was considerably lower, while pigweed had higher
potassium content and spider flower similar folate content. All ALVs, except Chinese cabbage, had higher
iron content. Black nightshade, pigweed, cowpea and spider flower leaves had higher b-carotene content
than DGLVs. For children, pigweed and cowpea leaves emerged as good sources of vitamin A (>75% RDA),
followed by spider flower, black nightshade, tsamma melon, Jew’s mallow and pumpkin leaves (50–75%
RDA). For iron, pumpkin leaves provided 50–75% RDA. Black nightshade, tsamma melon, pigweed and
cowpea leaves contributed 25–50% RDA, with Jew’s mallow, spider flower and Chinese cabbage
providing <25% RDA. The ALVs were not a good source of zinc. Most ALVs were nutritionally similar to
DGLVs. For most nutrients Chinese cabbage had considerably lower values than the other ALVs. Most of
the ALVs can considerably contribute to requirements of vitamin A and, to a lesser extent, iron, both
critical nutrients for developing countries.