Primary acids, carbohydrates, fatty acids and organic acids

Primary
metabolites

The
primary metabolites such as amino acids, carbohydrates, fatty acids and organic
acids are commonly found in all species across broad ranging phylogenetic
groups. These compounds are directly related to the growth and development,
hormone and protein synthesis, respiration and photosynthesis. The biochemical pathways
used for modifying and synthesizing these primary metabolites are found to be
essentially same in all organisms, apart from minor variations.

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Protein

Proteins
are complex molecules having various compositions of amino acids. They play
vital role in regulating body metabolism, cellular function and structure.
Hence they add value to daily diet of consumers. Green leafy vegetables are
rich and inexpensive sources of proteins because of their synthesizing ability
of amino acids. Ribulose-I,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase(RUBISCO) is a
major leaf cell protein(accounts to about 50%) which plays a critical role in
carbon fixation during photosynthesis. This is a similar protein found in leaf
chloroplasts of all green leafy vegetables with minor changes in amino acid
base for different species.

Recent research reported that green leafy vegetables such as broccoli (Brassica
oleracea var. Italic), duckweed (Lemna
perpusilla) and spinach (Spinacia oleracea) render all the essential amino acids that meet the FAO nutrition
standards. Studies have also proven that cassava(Manihot esculenta)  leaves has amino acid profile balanced with
pulse and dairy products.

The protein content in African
leafy vegetables such as green leaves of septic weed
(Senna occidentalis) and cassava(7 g /100 g of fresh weight) is greater
than exotic leafy vegetables such as Brassica oleracea subsp. Capitate(1
g/100 g of fresh weight). However, African leafy vegetables has relatively less
protein content than legume proteins(white lupines (Lupinus albus) with 11.5 g protein/100g of fresh
weight).

According to prevailing
environmental conditions and farming practices, the amount of protein in leafy
vegetables may vary. Thermal processing inactivates heat-labile
anti-nutritional factors such as lectins, goitrogens, thiaminases and protease
inhibitors. It improves digestibility of proteins and starch but leads to
protein denaturation and hence effects the bioavailability of proteins in leafy
vegetables.