Background of the study
There is increased advocacy on the consumption of functional foods by World human nutrition due to different health problems related with food consumption such as diabetes and coronary heart diseases (WHO/FAO, 2003).
Food professional/industries might face challenges of producing food products containing functional ingredients in order to meet the nutritional requirements of individuals with health challenges. This is because of the effect of added sugar and lipids in the industrial production of foods products. Oke and Adeyemi (1991) advocated alternative source of food production in tackling food crises. The prospect of blending tubers, roots and plantain with cereals and legumes for the production of household food products is receiving considerable attention (Nnam, 2002; Onoja and Obizoba, 2009). This might make the products to be nutritious, relatively cheap and affordable to the rural poor to stem-off hunger and malnutrition.
Baked products provide an excellent opportunity to incorporate food-grade fractions from grains, legumes or other indigenous food sources. High cost of wheat flour in non-wheat producing countries such as Nigeria poses a problem to bakery industries and consumers of baked products (Chinma, Abu, Adani, 2012).
Plantain is the common name for herbaceous plants of the genus Musa. Plantain (Musaparadisiaca) is an important staple food in Central and West Africa. It is a basic food crop and cheap source of energy in Nigeria (Faturoti, 2007; Adeniyi, 2006). Several food consumption surveys in Nigeria identified plantain among the major starchy staples (Odenigbo, 2012;Okeke, 2008;Ogechi, et al 2007). According to FAO (2005), over 2.11 million metric tons of plantains are produced in Nigeria annually. However, about 35-60% post-harvest losses had been reported and attributed to lack of storage facilities and inappropriate technologies for food processing (Olorunda and Adelusola,1997).An average plantain has about 220 calories and is a good source of potassium and dietary fiber (Randy et al., 2007). It is rich in carbohydrate, dietary fiber, irons, vitamins, and minerals. This nutritious food is ideal for diabetics, children, and pregnant women. It can also be a good supplement for marasmus patients. Plantain contains small amount of serotonin that has the ability to dilate the arteries and improve blood circulation. Its regular consumption helps to cure aneamia (low blood level) and maintain a healthy heart (USDA Nutrient Database,2010). A diet of unripe plantain is filling and can also be a good inclusion in a weight loss diet plan (Oke et al., 1998).
Plantain is widely grown in the Southern states of Nigeria and it is used both in Nigeria and many African countries as a cheap source of calories, excellent for weight control, slow in the release of energy after consumption with a low glycermic index (Mendosa, 2008), high in potassium and good for diabetic patients (Akubor, 2003). Plantain is also a good source of Iron, and β – Carotene (Pro-Vitamin A) as reported by Ogazi (1988). It contains 32% carbohydrate, 1% protein, 0.02 fat, 60% water, some vitamins and mineral elements (Kure et al.,1998). With the progressive increase in the consumption of bread and related baked products in Nigeria, the composite flour program if adopted has the potential to add value to indigenous crops like plantain and at the same time conserve foreign exchange spent on wheat importation.
Plantain is rich in dietary fibre (8.82%), resistant starch (16.2%), and low in protein and fat (Ayodele and Erema, 2011). Dietary fibre in human diets lowers serum cholesterol, reduces the risk of heart attack, colon cancer, obesity, blood pressure, appendicitis and many other diseases (Rehinan et al., 2004). On the other hand, resistant starch assists in preventing and managing type 2-diabetes (Jideani and Jideani, 2011). Considering the health benefits of plantain, its incorporation as composite blend in the preparation of cake will help in enhancing the nutritional and health status of consumers, reduce total dependence on wheat flour and incidence of certain chronic non communicable disease.