The use of sweet potatoes in the improvement of the energy content of weaning gruels in Mpigi district, Uganda
The objective of this study was to investigate the possibilities of improving energy density of maize-based weaning gruels in Mpigi District, Uganda using sweet potatoes. A 24 -hour dietary recall was carried out to determine the types of foods used for weaning infants, the levels of intake of the foods by the infants and the contribution of the foods to the energy intake. Results indicated that maize-based gruels constituted the main food for weaning infants second only to milk. The maize gruels were fed to the infants at a consistency which permitted only an average energy density of 0.25 KCal/ml. This resulted in energy intakes between 171 Kcal to 225 Kcal; with up to five feedings at 137mls - 180mls per feeding. Methods of preparation of the maize gruels were simulated in the .laboratory. Weaning gruels were prepared and their viscosities determined as standards to develop products with the same consistency, but with higher energy densities, through liquefaction with amylolytic enzymes from sweet potatoes. Gruels with 15% and 20% maize flour were prepared and liquified accordingly with enzymes from fresh and dehydrated sweet potatoes. It was possible to reduce the thick gruels to the viscosity desired with addition of 16.7% (w/w) of sweet potato flour, and at the same time raise the energy densities to 0.60 KCal/ml and 0.80 KCal/ml respectively. This represented 140% and 220% increment respectively, in the energy densities. Consumption of these gruels at the usual rates wouid contribute to the energy RDA for infants of 57% - 79%. The inclusion of sweet potato in the gruels did not alter their acceptability significantly. The study established that maize gruels of energy densities sufficient to supply the required energy RDA for infants could be prepared from maize flour through liquefaction with amy lo ly t i c enzymes from sweet potatoes.