Chenopod leaves, used as a pot herb, are also a good source of high-quality protein concentrate and considered a very acceptable spinach substitute, generally very nutritious.
Chenopod is mainly cultivated for its green (pot-herb) almost throughout India but it is also cultivated for grain purpose in the mountain areas of HP, UA and J&K. Chenopod is known by various vernacular names such as Bathua, Bathu, Bithu, Bithua, Taak, Taho, Takka, Dhangar, Bajar bhang, Sariairi, Chharathu, Jhri. It has fairly high protein content, ability to survive and compete in intercropping systems and the presence of mycorrhizal associations which maximize their use of scarce nutrients. In mountains chenopod is cultivated both for grain and green, whereas only for green in plains. Owing to its black seed colour it is hardly used by making flour but cooked along with rice.
- The chenopod grain and leaves which are nutritionally better than other foods have the potential to supplement the diets with much-needed high-quality proteins.
- The chenopod grains contain a whole set of essential amino acids, thus can supplement cereals diet. For instance, maize, which is a staple food in mountains, has a low lysine content, but chenopod grains, with relatively higher lysine content, make up the deficiency in the diet.
- Chenopod leaves, used as a pot herb, are also a good source of high-quality protein concentrate and considered a very acceptable spinach substitute, generally very nutritious. Mineral levels in the chenopod leaf are also comparable to those of spinach.
- It is very high in vitamin A, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus and is also a good source trace minerals, B-complex vitamins, vitamin C, iron, and fibre. The green leaves contain 10,000 I.U. of vitamin A per 100 grams.
- In the hills the powdered seeds are given to children to treat intestinal worms.
- People used the poultice of chenopod leaves to soothe burns. The leaves are applied as a wash or poultice to bug bites, sunstroke, rheumatic joints and swollen feet, whilst a decoction is used for carious teeth.
- The seeds of chenopod are chewed in the treatment of urinary problems and are considered useful for relieving the discharge of semen through the urine. The juice of the stems is applied to sunburn. The juice of the root is sometimes given to the patient suffering from bloody dysentery.
For long-term storage, leaves may be dried, canned, or blanched and frozen. However, when consumed in very large quantities can disturb the nervous system and cause gastric pain.
About the author
Dr. J C Rana is a Scientist currently the heading the Division of Germplasm Evaluation, ICAR-National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources, Pusa Campus, New Delhi. He has received several awards & honours few of which are:
Fellow Indian Society of Genetics & Plant Breeding
Fellow Indian Society of Plant Genetic Resources