Health risks of leafy vegetable Alternanthera philoxeroides (Alligator weed) rich in phytochemicals and minerals

Abstract

Alternanthera philoxeroides (alligator weed) grows abundantly in polluted Peri-urban Greater Hyderabad, India. It is collected at no cost and sold in the market as a leafy vegetable in the name of “Ceylon Spinach”. The plant accumulates iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), cadmium (Cd), lead (Pb) and zinc (Zn) in roots and leaves. Soil samples were analyzed for pH, EC, available nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) and showed significant metal concentrations of Pb, Mn and Zn, which varied from one location to another. The metal accumulation order in the plants is root>leaf>stem in all the studied sites. The results revealed that the massive roots of alligator weed are effective in the bioconcentrating Fe, Mn, Zn, Pb and Cd, although the plant parts are rich in nutraceuticals like phenolics and antioxidants. Therefore, low income community prefers to consume it as vegetable. However, its consumption as a leafy vegetable can cause health risks.

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