Open Access Sweet potato-based complementary food for infants in low-income countries

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Background. In low-income countries, most infants are given cereal-based complementary foods prepared at the household level. Such foods are high in phytate, which limits the bioavailability of nutrients, including iron, calcium, zinc, and in some cases proteins, which are crucial to the development of infants.

Objective. To compare the levels of macronutrients (protein, fat, and carbohydrate), gross energy, and fructose in sweet potato-based (denoted ComFa) formulations and enriched Weanimix (dehulled maize–dehulled soybean–groundnut blend with fish powder and sugar incorporated). The phytate level was also compared.

Methods. A composite flour of sweet potato and soybeans containing fish powder was processed by oven toasting as a home-based complementary food. Another blend containing skim milk powder was processed by extrusion cooking or roller drying as industrial-based prototypes. The macronutrient composition and the levels of fructose and phytate were determined in the ComFa formulations and enriched Weanimix.

Results. The ComFa formulations and the enriched Weanimix met the stipulated values in the Codex Alimentarius Commission standard for energy (400 kcal/100 g), protein (15 g/100 g), and fat (10 to 25 g/100 g) for complementary food, with the exception of the industrial-based ComFa formulations, which satisfied 83% of the protein requirement (15 g/100 g). The ComFa formulations had a quarter of the phytate level of enriched Weanimix. The fructose level in the sweet potato-based complementary foods was more than five times that in enriched Weanimix.

Conclusions. The sweet potato-based formulations were superior to enriched Weanimix as complementary foods for infants in low-income countries, based on the fructose (which makes the porridge naturally sweet) and phytate levels.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2012

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  • Established in 1978, the Food and Nutrition Bulletin (FNB) is a peer-reviewed journal published quarterly by the Nevin Scrimshaw International Nutrition Foundation.

    The focus of the journal is to highlight original scientific articles on nutrition research, policy analyses, and state-of-the-art summaries relating to multidisciplinary efforts to alleviate the problems of hunger and malnutrition in the developing world.

    Food and Nutrition Bulletin's 2012 Impact Factor: 2.106
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