Mineral Properties and Dietary Value of Raw and Processed Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica L.)
Rutto, Laban K.
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Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica L.) has a long history of usage and is currently receiving attention as a source of fiber and alternative medicine. In many cultures, nettle is also eaten as a leafy vegetable. In this study, we focused on nettle yield (edible portion) and processing effects on nutritive and dietary properties. Actively growing shoots were harvested from field plots and leaves separated from stems. Leaf portions (200 g) were washed and processed by blanching (1 min at 96–98°C) or cooking (7 min at 98-99°C) with or without salt (5 g·). Samples were cooled immediately after cooking and kept in frozen storage before analysis. Proximate composition, mineral, amino acid, and vitamin contents were determined, and nutritive value was estimated based on 100 g serving portions in a 2000 calorie diet. Results show that processed nettle can supply 90%–100% of vitamin A (including vitamin A as β-carotene) and is a good source of dietary calcium, iron, and protein. We recommend fresh or processed nettle as a high-protein, low-calorie source of essential nutrients, minerals, and vitamins particularly in vegetarian, diabetic, or other specialized diets.