Konzo is a toxico-nutritional neurological disease associated with oxidative damage induced by cyanide poisoning through the ingestion of poorly processed bitter cassava. Dietary uses and patterns, determined using food frequency questionnaires, structured interviews and direct observation in consenting households to Kahemba, the rural area most affected by konzo in the world, showed that the diet of affected population is not varied and largely dependent on cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) products. Commonly consumed foodstuffs include herbal teas, mushrooms, spices, vegetables and yams. Phytochemical composition of extracts revealed that they contained flavonoids and phenolic acids as major compounds. All extracts of investigated traditional foods at the concentration range of 0.25–20 μg/mL, displayed high radical scavenging and cellular antioxidant activities using lucigenin on equine neutrophils, related to their phenolic content. The leaves of Manihot esculenta and Manihot glaziovii exhibited the highest antioxidant activity among vegetables. Lippia multiflora is the most active of the herbal teas, Auricularia delicata of mushrooms, Dioscorea alata of yams and Ocimum basilicum of spices. Traditional foods showed more efficient effects on extracellular ROS production and MPO activity. Traditional foods have interesting antioxidant, anti-inflammatory properties and could putatively be used as functional foods or nutraceuticals in the prevention of oxidative damage associated with konzo.
Part of the book: Antioxidants in Foods and Its Applications