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Although spices are added to food in small quantities for their flavour and aroma, they also have impact on the health of consumers. This study aimed at ascertaining the nutritional and elemental composition of the most preferred forest spices used amongst Itsekiri ethnics in Delta state, Nigeria. The most preferred spices were determined through questionnaire administration to 143 users and sellers. Crude protein, fat, fibre, ash and moisture content were analyzed using the standard methods of the Association of Official Analytical Chemists (AOAC). Elemental analysis was done using PIXE accelerator to detect the heavy metals (Mg, Al, Si, Cr, Fe, Zn, Mn & Cu) in the five most preferred local spices. One way ANOVA was used to separate the means of the elements while mean comparison was done with LSD. The five most preferred spices include Monodora myristica, Xylopiaa ethiopica, Parinari excelsa, Aframomum subsericeum and Ighereje (Itsekiri local name). Xylopiaa ethiopica had the highest Crude protein (16.83%) while Parinari excelsa had the lowest percentage crude protein (11.67%). Monodora myristica had highest moisture content (10.8%) while Xylopia aethiopica had the lowest (6.52%). Elemental analysis revealed magnesium as the highest in concentration for Ighereje (3079.03ppm). Silicon and manganese were found to be higher in Aframomum subsericeum with 1488.2ppm and 148.9ppm respectively. Overall, the spices were found to contain significant nutrients required for good health. However, the concentrations of some elements in the spices per 1 kg samples were higher than the WHO/FAO maximum permissible daily limit which could make the spices not safe for daily consumption. But very little quantity are needed as flavourant (usually below 50g/family NOT individual), therefore consumption of the forest spices may be deemed safe for consumption.
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