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Abstract, Livestock Research for Rural Development , 2009

Unconventional legumes are promising in terms of nutrition, providing food security, agricultural development and in crop rotation in developing countries. The wild legume, Mucuna consists of about 100 varieties/accessions and are in great demand as food, livestock feed and pharmaceutically valued products. Mucuna seeds consist of high protein, high carbohydrates, high fiber, low lipids, adequate minerals and meet the requirement of essential aminoacids. The seeds also possess good functional properties and in vitro protein digestibility. Hydrothermal treatments, fermentation and germination have been shown to be most effective in reducing the antinutrients of Mucuna seeds. Several antinutritional compounds of Mucuna seeds serve in health care and considerable interest has been drawn towards their antioxidant properties and potential health benefits.

All parts of Mucuna plant are reported to possess useful phytochemicals of high medicinal value of human and veterinary importance and also constitute as an important raw material in Ayurvedic and folk medicines. Mucuna seeds constitute as a good source of several alkaloids, antioxidants, antitumor and antibacterial compounds. Seeds are the major source of L-DOPA, which serve as a potential drug in providing symptomatic relief for Parkinson's disease. As cultivar differences in Mucuna influences the quantity of L-DOPA and lectin in seeds, future investigations should direct towards the selection of germplasm with low L-DOPA and lectin for human and animal consumption, while high L-DOPA for pharmaceutical purposes. Inexpensive means of processing techniques needs to be implemented to exploit the nutraceutical potential of Mucuna for the benefit of poor and rural development in developing countries.

Keywords: Antioxidants, antitumor activity, bioactive compounds, fodder, food, L-DOPA, Mucuna, nutrition, wild legumes