Thursday, 13 October 2011

Health Benefits of Corn

Is corn good for you? What are the health benefits of corn? What is the nutritional value of corn?
The yellow and sweet corn, or also known as maize in some countries, is a favorite snack when boiled, steamed or grilled and rubbed with butter. In South East Asia, a stir fry mixed vegetables including baby corn or candle corn is a favorite side dish. And corn pudding is a much loved dessert.

Corn flakes and corn pops are healthy breakfast cereals. Corn flakes are also used as an ingredient for corn flake cookies. Other than these, extracts from corns are used to make corn oil and corns are also milled and processed to produce corn starch, flour and syrup.

There are many health benefits of eating corns because they contain many important nutrients. Raw sweet, yellow corns contain protein, carbohydrate, dietary fiber, starch, glucose and fructose. The vitamins and minerals available are many of the B vitamins mainly folate, choline and niacin, vitamin C, Vitamin A, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium and sodium.

It also contains lutein plus zeaxanthin, alpha and beta carotene and beta cryptoxanthin. Lutein, zeaxanthin and cryptoxanthin are antioxidant carotenoids.

Nutrition Facts for 100g or Raw Sweet Yellow Corn
86 kcal
Total lipid (fat)
Dietary Fiber
Total Sugars
Vitamin C
Pantothenic acid
Vitamin B6
Vitamin A
Vitamin E
Beta Carotene
Alpha Carotene
Beta Cryptoxanthin
Lutein + zeaxanthin
Vitamin K

One of the benefits of corn is it provides lutein which the body cannot produce. Lutein is an important nutrient for eye health. A lack of lutein may destroy macula tissue and develop cataracts or blindness as a person ages. The recommended dosage of lutein is 6 mg per day. A cup of corn flakes only provides 325mcg of lutein and half a cup of boiled corn kernels provides only about 600mcg.

Zeaxanthin is the pigment that produces the yellow color in corns. According to research done at the Harvard Medical School, the carotenoid called zeaxanthin is essential to protect the retina from damaging effects of light. Lutein and zeaxanthin usually are found together and both these carotenoid are essential nutrients to avoid the risk of eye degeneration.

The other health benefits of corn include helping fight against free radicals and may reduce the risk of certain serious lung problems and the risk of infections. This is because of the presence of the powerful antioxidant called beta carotene.

The National Institutes of Health published an article in August 2005 about a study made on another carotenoid called beta cryptoxanthin. The study showed that an increase intake of beta cryptoxanthin may reduce the risk of developing inflammatory disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Eating a half cup of boiled corn kernels will provide you with 163 IU of vitamin A. Vitamin A is known for its positive effect on vision. Vitamin A may also aid in building your immune function, bone metabolism and skin health.

One of the other health benefits of corn is in the contents of the B vitamins especially folate. Folate may reduce neural tube defect which are defects affecting the brain and spinal cord. Women who are capable of getting pregnant should take adequate amount of folate.

Corn contains dietary fiber which is useful for colon health. Eating corn may prevent constipation and irritable bowel. The potassium present in corn will benefit your muscles and kidney function. And phosphorus is necessary to help develop strong bones and teeth, remove toxins through the kidney and provides the body with energy. It also aids in proper digestion and is beneficial for reproductive health.

Health Benefits of Groundnuts/Peanuts

Gorundnuts / Peanut as most of us do not know came from a legume family (and not in the nut family) just like a bean or pea. The nuts originate from the stems, but are pushed into the ground by the plant at an early stage, and it is underground that they mature. The peanut plant can grow to about 30 to 50 cm (1 to 1½ ft) tall.
Peanut originates from semi-arid areas of Brazil while India, tropical Africa, and China are the leading peanut producing countries. While there are many varieties of peanuts, the ones most commonly found in the marketplace are the Virginia, Spanish, Valencia and Runner. The round Spanish peanut has a full rich taste, and is usually used for roasting. The Virginia peanut is larger and oblong, and is commonly sold in-shell. It has a more nutty flavor. The Valencia peanut has a very bright red skin and small kernels. This variety is very sweet and is sold roasted in the shell. The most common commercial variety is the redskin "jumbo runner" over half of these peanuts are used for peanut butter. Because of their high protein content and chemical profile, peanuts are processed into a variety of different forms, including butter, oil, flour, and flakes.

Peanut Butter
Nutritive Values: Per 100 gm.
·         Vitamin B: Thiamine .30 mg.;
·         Riboflavin .13 mg.;
·         Niacin 16.2 mg.
·         Vitamin E: 8 mg.
·         Calcium: 74 mg.
·         Iron: 1.9 mg.
·         Phosphorus: 393 mg.
·         Potassium: 337 mg.
·         Fat: 44.2 gm.
·         Carbohydrates: 23.6 gm.
·         Protein: 26.9 gm.
·         Calories: 559
Health Benefits of Peanuts:
·         Whole peanuts contains high amount of protein, which makes it a preferred diet of those people engaged in body-building and those people who are weak and underweight. The raw peanut butter with crushed skin contains much higher amounts of nutrient than refined "nut-only" butter.
·         Peanut is a good source of Coenzyme Q10 which protects the heart during the period of lack of oxygen example high altitudes and clogged arteries.
·         Peanuts contain high concentrations of antioxidant polyphenols, primarily a compound called p-coumaric acid. Roasting peanuts increases its p-coumaric acid levels, boosting it overall antioxidant content by as much as 22%. Roasted peanuts rival the antioxidant content of blackberries and strawberries, and are far richer in antioxidants than apples, carrots or beets.
·         Unsalted peanuts are good for your arteries. One quarter cup of peanuts contains as much monunsaturated fat as a tablespoon of olive oil. Monounsaturated fats have been shown to lower blood cholesterol.
·         Peanuts' high niacin content helps in the recovery of cell damage provides protection against Alzheimer's disease and age-related cognitive problem.
·         Peanut contain vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that is shown to significantly reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
·         Peanut contain iron which is essential for the correct functioning of red blood cells.
·         Peanut is rich in calcium which helps promotes healthy bones.
·         Peanut has higher bioflavonoid resveratrol content than grapes. This bioflavonoid is believed to improve blood flow in the brain by as much as 30%, thus greatly reducing the risk of stroke. Study showed that by adding even small amounts of peanut products to the diet can reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol by 14%.
·         Peanuts' fiber content helps lower the risk of colon cancer, an ounce of peanuts contains 2 grams of fiber.
·         Peanut helps to accelerate the growth of male and female hormones.
Allergic Reactions to Peanuts: Though the allergy may last a lifetime, study indicates that 23.3% of children will outgrow a peanut allergy. It is important to note that peanut is a member of the legume family and it is not related to nuts, individuals with peanut allergies may not be allergic to nuts and vice versa.
·         Individuals with kidney or gallbladder problems should avoid eating peanuts, because peanuts contain measurable amounts of oxalates, a naturally occurring substance found in plants, animals and human beings. When oxalates become too concentrated in body fluids, they can crystallize and cause health problems.
·         Individuals with thyroid problems may need to avoid peanuts because peanuts contains goitrogens, a naturally occurring substance in certain foods that can interfere with the functioning of they thyroid gland. Although cooking may help to inactivate the goitrogenic compounds found in food, but it is not clear from the study how percentage of goitrogenic compounds get inactivated by cooking.

Selection and storage

Peanuts are available in the markets year around. In the store, different forms are available like shelled, unshelled, salted, sweetened etc. Try to buy whole “in shelled” or “with shelled” nuts instead of processed ones. They are generally available in the airtight packs as well as in bulk bins. The pods should feature compact, off white color, healthy looking cover and uniform in size, and feel heavy in hand. They should be free from cracks, mold, and spots and free of rancid smell.
Unshelled or with shell groundnuts can be placed in cool dry place for many months, whereas shelled (without the shell) nuts should be placed inside airtight container and kept in the refrigerator to avoid them turn rancid.

Preparation and serving methods

§  Peanut is usually eaten as it is, by cracking them with firm pressure between fingers or using clippers, or nutcracker machine. The nuts can also be enjoyed by roasting, boiled, salted, or sweetened.
§  They are nutty, yet pleasantly sweet in taste. Roasting enhances the taste, antioxidants levels like p-coumaric acid and helps remove toxic aflatoxin.
§  Boiled peanuts possess unique flavor and taste. Boiling, in fact, enriches their nutritional and antioxidants profile.
§  "Peanut butter" is a food paste made from ground-roasted nuts, with or without added oil. It is popular throughout the world and is mainly used is as a sandwich spread. Peanut-milk is also a popular lactose-free milk-like healthy drink.
§  Peanut oil is another healthy source of edible cooking oil like soy or olive oils. Widely used for cooking purposes for its aromatic flavor, especially in many South Indian states and Sri Lanka.
§  Roasted and crushed nuts often sprinkled over salads, desserts, particularly sundaes and other ice cream based preparations.
§  Peanut “chutney” or paste, made from  these nuts, chili peppers, salt, coriander leaves, garlic and mustard seeds, is a popular preparation among south Indian, Sri Lanka region.
  • Roasted and split nuts are a great addition onto tossed salads.

Safety profile

Peanut allergy is a type of hypersensitivity response in some people to food substances prepared using these nuts. The resultant over-reaction of the immune system may lead to severe physical symptoms like vomiting, pain abdomen, swelling of lips and throat leading to breathing difficulty, chest congestion, and death. It is therefore, advised to avoid any food preparations that contain peanut products in these individuals.
Peanuts are one of the crops that are susceptible to fungal (mold) infection, especially by aflatoxin producing member aspergillusflavus. Aflatoxin is a very powerful and dangerous known carcinogen that may cause liver cirrhosis and cancer. Roasting helps to reduce the toxin levels in these nuts and thus offers some protection against aflatoxin

Tuesday, 27 September 2011


The grass cutter belongs to the order Rodent and family Thryonomidae which contains only genus Thryonomys. Dorst and Dandelete (1979) recognized only two species which they describe as greater grasscutter.
Thryonomys swinderianus Temminck and the lesser grass cutter Thryonomys
gregorianus Temminck. This rodent is widely known through Africa south of Sahara and it is commonly referred as the grass cutter, cane-rat or Cutting grass.
They are heavily built, thick set with animals with rounded muzzle, small round ears, short tails and harsh bristly fur. They have a peculiar bristle tail which readily fractures near the base if seized, much like the easily atomized tail of the lizard, a phenomenon that is of tremendous protective value. The coarse bristly coat has no under-fur, though under magnification
some sparsely scattered extremely fine straight under-fur are visible.The overall appearance is usually dark brown, speckled with yellow or grey above butty white below. The chin and throat appear white. The head is a bit small for the size of the body. The small circular ear is covered strong and well padded and are armed with powerful straight claws. There are five digits on the fore feet and four on the hind feet. Females have three pairs of mammary glands on the belly, while the male testes are not visible externally like other rodents. The total body length (head to end tail) ranged from 35 to 60cm and its tail length ranges from 7 cm to 25cm. Grass cutter grows to a considerable weight. The mature male sometimes reach more than 9kg while females can attain between 5-7kg body weight. Its growth rate is less than that of rabbit of an improved breed and more than that of the local rabbit in a tropical environment.
The animal has many predators including leopards, mongoose and python, in addition to man.

The meat qualities of the grass cutter compare favorably with those of domesticated livestock species. Mature live weight ranges from 5 to 8kg. It has an average dressing percentage of 65%. However with the consumption of the head an entrails this can reach 80%.
The nutritional value of grass cutter meat is as good as those from domestic animals. Beef, Lamb and pork also contain higher fat percentage than meat from the grass cutter.In fact grass cutter meat is nutritionally superior to some domestic meat because of its high protein to fat ratio and higher mineral contents. The meat quality is also leaner and non-cholestrogenic.
The meat is very tasty when compared to both domestic and familiar game species. The grass cutter also play an important role in traditional African medicine for preparation of concoctions for fertility etc. In Ghana, the hair of the grass cutter is used to season food just as much as its stomach and intestinal contents. Also, the pancreas of the grass cutter contains a high concentration of insulin which is used in local preparation for the treatment of diabetes.

In Ghana it has been ascertained that grass cutter contributes to both local and export earnings. About 73 tonnes of animals are sold in a year and recent surveys show that is is the Grass cutter that dominates the bush meat trade.
Most of this quantity is traded locally as fresh or smoked form. Smoked grass cutter is exported to US and Europe. Grass cutter can be reared with minimal capital outlay as inputs required
are very low. Feed requirements for grass cutter in captivity are low and it does not compete with man for feedstuffs. It can therefore serve as a considerable income earner for the small scale Peri-urban or rural livestock producer. A farmer can also integrate grass cutter rearing with other livestock farming such as pigs, rabbits, sheep, ducks and poultry.

Grass cutter housing comprised of a stable and cages/pens. stable is the main building which houses the cages/pens. It is a normal building constructed in such a way to allow enough light and ventilation (air).
The type of material for its construction depends on the capital available to the farmer/breeder. cement block, wood, mud, brick, bamboo etc are some of materials for construction grass cutter house (stable).

Basically there are two rearing methods:
1.Rearing on the floor (floor hutch)
2.Rearing above the floor. (in meshed cages).

Floor hutch is the of rearing cage constructed with either cement block, brick or mud on the floor. Meshed cage on the other hand is the type of rearing cage made from combination of wood and wired-mesh.
Both of them however comprised of two compartments which permit easy movement of animal.
They can also be made into two three tiers (layers) system in order to optimize the space.

A male and female grass cutters attains their sexual maturity at 5 and 7 months respectively. A male grass cutter can be paired with 3-5 females. There are two methods of mating -permanent and controlled mating methods. The gestation period is 5 months, meaning that with good
management, the animal an litter twice in a year.
The average litter size is always four. They young ones can be weaned in about 4-6 weeks, after a resting period of about 10 days mother can be paired with the male again.

Grass cutter can be handled either by tails or by the limb. For easy handling, wire mesh cage can be used to move animal from one place to other.

Whatever be the choice of grass cutter farming embarked upon by farmer (breeding or fattening), provision of quality and adequate nutrition is essential to the success of each grass cutter rearing. Balanced feeding that takes into consideration nutritional requirements and regularity of feeding are essential factors responsible for the animals' good growth, health and


Grass cutters normally prefer grass with succulent stalk and such quality can be found in the following wild or cultivated grasses among others.
.Elephant grass (pennisetum purpureum)
.Sugar cane (Saccharum spp)
.Guinea grass (Panicum maximum)
.Giant star grass(Andropogon gayanus)
.Maize stem (zea mays)
.Rice stalks (Oryza spp.)

.Guinea Corn

Balanced feed can be found in a proportional mixture of the following feed
ingredients that are used in preparing the supplementary feed. Examples of
feed ingredients include:
.Maize/millet------------------ cassava
.Brewers dried grain (BDG)-----Leucaena leucocephala
.Corn bran/wheat offal---------Oyster/snail shell
.Palm kernel cake (PKC)--------Bone meal
.Soyabean cake (SBC)-----------Salt
.Groundnut cake(GNC)-----------Vitamin -mineral premix

As said earlier, good hygiene practice reduces the risk of disease outbreak in grass cutters rearing. The most important disease in grass cutter rearing include the following:
1.ENTEROTOXAEMIA: This is caused by a bacterium clostridium perfringens. The organism produces toxins which are absorbed into the circulatory system of the grass cutters thereby causing moralities.
The most obvious sign seen is the paralysis/ pedaling of the hind legs.
Other signs are seen during post mortern. Vaccine against this condition is available. Antibiotics (Ciprofloxacin, Enrofloxacin) are used in the treatment. It is useful to sprinkle some perphosphate on pen floor bi-monthly to break the development circle of clostridia orgamisms.
2.STAPHYLOCOCCAEMIA:-This is caused by a bacterium, staphylococcus Aurelius.
Most of the signs of this disease are seen at post mortem but discharges from the nostrils and vagina could be seen. Antibiotics are also employed in its treatment.
3.COCCIDIOSIS:This is caused by organism of the Eimeria family. Symptoms of the disease include diarrhea, prostration e.t.c Drugs of the Amprolium family are used in its treatment.
4.WORM INFECTION:-This is caused by worms and can be gotten from the cane grass being fed to the grass cutter. This is why the cane grass must be put in the sum before being fed to the grass cutters in order for the larvae of the worms to destroyed. Regular deworming should be carried out.
5. ECTOPARASTES: e.g ticks. These could be introduced into the pens through inadequately dried forage. Administration of Ivomec is used to control ticks. Chemical bath/dipping of the grass cutters could also be useful.