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Research Article

Nutrient Content, Mineral Content and Antioxidant Activity of Muntingia calabura Linn

Lukman Muslimin, Rini, Isna Hasyim, Nurul Fatimah Yusuf, Fhahri Mubarak and Risfah Yulianty
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Background and objective: The protective action of fruits and vegetables are associated with the presence of anti-oxidants, notably anti-oxidant vitamins, such as ascorbic acid, α-tocopherol and β-carotene. The aim of this research was to measure the nutritional content, mineral composition and antioxidant activities of Muntingia calabura Linn. fruit, which is grown in Makassar, Indonesia. Materials and Methods: Proximate parameters (moisture, ash, protein, carbohydrate and ascorbic acid) were evaluated using the Association of Official Analytical Chemists (AOAC) method, oxalate and phytic acid were evaluated by redox titration method and saponin and alkaloid content were evaluated using the gravimetric method. Mineral analysis was conducted using the inductively coupled plasma-optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES) technique and antioxidant activity was evaluated by the fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) method. Results: The results showed that the fruit of M. calabura had a high content of moisture and ash. The fruit had iron (Fe) as the higher component in trace elements and potassium (K) as the higher component in major elements. The anti-nutrients oxalate, phytate, alkaloids and saponins were detected while alkaloids are the highest content. In addition, from the study, the fruit showed antioxidant activity. Conclusion: Muntingia calabura is easily accessible and contributes remarkably to the amount of nutrient intake in the human diet. Further study is needed to analyze the type of alkaloids contained in the fruit.

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Lukman Muslimin, Rini, Isna Hasyim, Nurul Fatimah Yusuf, Fhahri Mubarak and Risfah Yulianty, 2019. Nutrient Content, Mineral Content and Antioxidant Activity of Muntingia calabura Linn. Pakistan Journal of Nutrition, 18: 726-732.

DOI: 10.3923/pjn.2019.726.732

Copyright: © 2019. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the creative commons attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


Fruits and vegetables are functional foods that can provide health benefits in addition to meeting physiological needs. Routine or periodic consumption of fruits and vegetables provides significant benefits to human health1.

Protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, sterols and lipids are primary metabolites in plants, which are essential for the growth and development of plants. These are the basis of nutrition worldwide2,3.

Anti-nutritional factors are substances that reduce the bioavailability of some nutrients, diminution of the digestive process, or inhibit food diffusion4. Trace elements that have been involved in combating several human ailments and disease are found chiefly in medicinal plants5, 6. The functional activities of specific organs may be affected by the continuous dietary consumption of specific elements; which can lead to their bioaccumulation beyond normal or safe levels7.

The presence of anti-oxidants, notably anti-oxidant vitamins, such as beta-carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E are associated with the defense mechanism of fruits and vegetables1. The primary purpose of this research was to determine the nutritive potential and antioxidant activity of the M. calabura fruit growing in Makassar, South Sulawesi which is lacking in the literature.


Muntingia calabura fruits were collected from Makassar, South Sulawesi. Fruits were harvested during the rainy season in December 2017. The sample was rinsed under the tap water to eliminate dirt and wash again with aquadest. Fresh M. calabura fruits were processed to separate the juice and bulb.

Determination of moisture content: Moisture was determined using an oven-drying method at 105°C for 24 h until a constant weight was achieved.

Determination of total ash content: The total ash contents were determined by incinerating in a furnace at 550°C for 3 h.

Determination of N-protein content: The N-protein contents were obtained from deducting the crude protein contents with non-protein nitrogen (NPN) contents. Crude protein content was evaluated as described by Maubois and Lorient8. with modification. NPN was determined by precipitation protein contents using copper sulfate. Continue with Kjeldahl assay without the destruction process.

Determination of total carbohydrate content: The carbohydrate contents were determined by Luff Schoorl method. A 3 g sample was weighed. Then 200 mL of 3% HCl was added and the mixture was simmered for 3 h and chilled for a few minutes or longer before being neutralized with 30% of sodium hydroxide (qualitative test with phenolphthalein indicator). Three percent acetic acid was added to the solution. The solution was added to a volumetric flask using a pipette and filled to the mark with distilled water. Ten milliliters of the obtained filtrate was added to 25 mL of Luff-Schoorl solution and 15 mL of purified water in an Erlenmeyer flask. Heated in a water bath followed by boiling on reverse cooler for 10 min. When the solution was cooled, 15 mL of 20% potassium iodide and 25 mL of 25% H2SO4 were added. The obtained mixture was titrated with Na2S2O3 0.1 N with a few drops of 0.5% starch solution added.

Determination of ascorbic acid content: The iodometric titration determined the ascorbic acid content. Thirty grams of sample was weighed and put into a flask, aquadest was added to 100 mL, then centrifuged to separate the filtrate. Twenty milliliters of filtrate was placed into the flask and 1% starch solution and 20 mL of aquadest was added. Then, the solution was titrated with an iodine standard of 0.01 N.

Determination of oxalate content: Oxalate content was measured as described by Unuofin et al.3 with modification. The sample was weighed (1 g) in a flask; 75 mL of 3 mol L1 of H2SO4 was added and homogenized with a magnetic stirrer for an hour before filtering. Twenty-five milliliters of collected filtrate was heated to 80-90°C. This filtrate was kept above 70°C at all times. The hot aliquot was titrated continuously with 0.05 mol L1 of KMnO4 until the end point revealed by a light pink color which persisted for 15 s was reached. One milliliter of 0.012 mol L1 of KMnO4 as equivalent to 0.528 mg of oxalate.

Determination of phytate content: Phytic acid was determined as described by Magomya et al.9. The sample (2 g) was weighed into a flask and 100 mL of 2% HCl was added and allowed to stand at room temperature for 3 h before filtering. Twenty-five milliliters of the filtrate was placed in a separate conical flask and the end of titration point was observed by adding 5 mL of 0.3% ammonium thiocyanate solution. To achieve the desired activity 53.5 mL of distilled water was added. Then the sample was titrated with standard iron (III) chloride solution (0.00195 g of iron per mL) until a brownish yellow color persisted for 5 min. Phytic acid was calculated as:

Phytic acid (%) = Titer value×0.001 95×1.19×100

Determination of saponins: Saponin content was estimated as described by Unuofin et al.3 with modification. Five grams of the fruit juice was added to 75 mL of 20% ethanol, placed on a shaker incubator for 30 min and then heated in a water bath at 55°C for 4 h. The mixture was filtered and the residue added to 150 mL of 20% aqueous ethanol. The filtrates were mixed and transferred to 40 mL in a water bath at 90°C. The concentrate was transferred into a separating flask, 20 mL of chloroform was added and the mixture was shaken. The chloroform layer which was the upper layer was removed and the bottom layer (aqueous) was retained in a beaker. The aqueous layer was re-introduced into a separating funnel and 60 mL of n-butanol was added and shaken vigorously. The butanol phase was retained and rinsed twice with 10 mL of 5% aqueous sodium chloride. The remaining solution was evaporated in a water bath, then dried until a constant weight was achieved at 40°C in an oven. The saponin content was counted using the equation:

Determination of alkaloids: The described method was adopted by Omoruyig et al.10. Approximately 5 g of fruit juice was mixed with 200 mL of 10% acetic acid in ethanol, placed in untransparent plastic and left standing at room temperature for 4 h. The mixture was filtered and the filtrate was concentrated in a water bath up to a quarter of the first volume. Concentrated ammonium hydroxide was in drops until precipitation (cloudy fume) was completed. The solution was allowed to settle, washed twice with ammonium hydroxide and filtered with paper. The residue collected was dried and weighed and the alkaloid content was calculated using the formula:

Elemental analysis: The method was described by a previous researcher using inductively coupled plasma-optical emission spectrometer11.

Determination of antioxidant activity: The method was described by Karim et al.12. with slight modifications. Ferric (III) chloride solution (3 mM in 5 mM citric acid) and TPTZ solution (2,4,6-tripyridyl-s-triazine; 1 mM in 0.05 M hydrochloric acid) were prepared as fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) solutions. One thousand microliters of the tested sample was added to 3000 μL of TPTZ solution and 1000 μL of FeCl3 solution, incubated for 10 min and its wavelength was measured at 500-700 nm. The absorbance data were calculated against serial dilution of ascorbic acid and recorded as similar ascorbic acid capacity using the general linear regression model.


Proximate composition: The result of the proximate content of M. calabura fruit is presented in Table 1. The moisture content was high (77.26%), with a high ash value of 1.66%. The percentage of crude protein was 1.68% and N-non-protein content was 0.05%. By deducting the result of crude protein and N-non-protein content the N-protein content obtained was 1.63%. The carbohydrate content was 1.75% and the ascorbic acid content was 0.11%.

Moisture content in food is a source of nutrients that can help to ensure adequate intake of fluids in the body. According to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)13, the number of daily needs in adult men averaged 2.5 L and adult females averaged 2.0 L. The total ash content can indicate the amount of mineral content contained in the food14. Dietary protein is the primary source of amino acids, particularly the essential amino acids, which cannot be synthesized from endogenous precursors and are required for growth, development and maintenance of human health15. The primary function of carbohydrates in the body is as a primary source of energy for cells, particularly the brain. The excess carbohydrate that is not metabolized is stored in glycogen form16,17. Ascorbic acid plays a vital role in physiological functions of living organisms, like in the collagen synthesis process in connective tissues18,19. A condition in which the body lacks vitamin C can lead to the scurvy state. The features of scurvy include the absence of wound healing and the failure of fractures to repair. This occurs because of the impaired of collagen formation19.

Antioxidants have an essential role in cellular function. They have been implicated in processes associated with aging, such as vascular, inflammatory damage and cancer.

Table 1:Proximate composition of Muntingia calabura

One of the antioxidant vitamins is ascorbic acid. Its antioxidant role is useful because it contributes to the maintenance of the cardiovascular system and prevents the formation of atherogenesis through regulation of collagen synthesis and the production of prostacyclin (eicosanoid family of lipid molecules that inhibits activation of platelet) and nitric oxide (vasodilator)20. The antioxidant capacity, in this case, is measured by the ability of an antioxidant to reduce the TPTZ-Fe3+ complex to Fe2+. Compounds that have reductive ability may be able to act as antioxidants because they can stabilize radicals by donating electrons or hydrogen atoms and become more stable21. The result showed that M. calabura fruit has antioxidant activity with a reduction value of 3.2688 mg AAE g1.

Mineral content: The result of the mineral analysis of M. calabura fruit is presented in Table 2. Potassium (K) content (1,966.8 mg/220 mL) was highest compared to other minerals analyzed while selenium was the lowest mineral present in M. calabura juice.

Minerals are needed in human nutrition for mental and physical well-being, or as essential constituents of bones, teeth, tissues, muscles, blood and nerve cells22.

Muntingia calabura can contribute approximately 9% of the amount of calcium (Ca) needed. Calcium plays a role in the growth and maintenance of bones, teeth and muscles and can be used as a dietary supplement23. Chlorine (Cl) plays a role in fluid and electrolyte balance, is a major negative ion of extracellular fluid (NaCl) and results in the production of acid in the stomach (HCl)24. K was the highest mineral content in samples.

Table 2:Macro and micro minerals of Muntingia calabura
Mineral content in Muntingia calabura equivalent to 1 cup (220 mL) of Muntingia calabura juice, *There is no recommended value by RDA

K is useful for reducing hypertension, improving heart rhythm and function in various physiological functions of the body25. It can also regulate heart rate, neurotransmission and air balance in the body26.

Magnesium (Mg) improves beta cell function in diabetes and hypertension27,28. It is also involved in enzymatic reactions such as oxidative metabolism of nutrients, cell synthesis, nerve impulses transmission, regulation of body temperature, detoxification, energy production and bone and tooth formation29,30. The body needs nitrogen to increase protein synthesis, producing compounds and amino acids that play a role in growth, hormones, brain function and body systems. There is no Research Data Alliance (RDA) data showing nitrogen levels and there is no maximum limit for nitrogen consumption per day. Sodium can improve the osmotic pressure in the body, muscle impairment and cell permeability as well as having an essential role in enhancing membrane potential, nerve impulse transmission and the absorption of monosaccharides, amino acids, pyrimidines and bile salts24,31.

Phosphorus (P) is an essential mineral that is affordable for the absorption of calcium needed for growth and repair of bones, teeth and muscles32. Sulfur in plants is available in inorganic sulfates derived from air and food. Sulfur compounds that have a biological significance are cyanates (SCN) in saliva and other liquids, ergothioneine in red blood cells, glutathione, present in all cells and chondroitin sulfate, which functions as a structural function of cartilage, bone, tendon, blood wall, etc. Sulfur food sources are adequate protein foods and these meet the daily needs of sulfur33.

Aluminum (Al) is one of the nonessential minerals but consumption of excessive amounts of Al can modify enzyme activity in the body and second messenger pathways as well as interfere with mitochondrial function and cause oxidative stress34.

Boron (B) has a role in steroid hormone metabolism, such as estrogen and testosterone, healthy bone development and maintenance of cell membranes. However, B can be toxic when consumed over the recommended dose, as it may lead to growth and reproductive abnormalities35.

Copper (Cu) plays a role in erythropoiesis, regulation and erythrocyte function in the survival of red blood cells. However, the concentration does not go beyond the maximum tolerable limit (10 mg per day). High consumption of Cu can cause diarrhea, gastric ulcers, the presence of blood in urine, liver damage, hypotension and vomiting36.

Iron (Fe) is needed to produce red blood cells that are necessary to transport oxygen throughout the body tissues. Fe deficiency is a nutritional problem that occurs in most people. It can be caused by chronic bleeding, infection, lack of iron bioavailability, folic acid deficiency, vitamin A or vitamin B12, pregnancy and menstruation in women during reproductive life37. Manganese (Mg) has an important function in bone growth and development and also functions for the formation of prothrombin with vitamin K. Mg serves as a catalyst and cofactor in some enzymatic processes, is a co-factor in the synthesis of fatty acids and cholesterol and is required in the synthesis of mucopolysaccharides and glycoprotein38. Molybdenum (Mo) is a vital micronutrient both in animal and plant nutrients. Mo affects the metabolism of copper in humans because high molybdenum intake can trigger copper deficiency24.

Silicon (Si) is one of the micro minerals that acts as a co-factor of enzymes in the body. Based on the RDA table, the maximum limit of Si consumption has not been determined, as no data has stated the amount of Si that can cause adverse effects. As with Al, daily consumption of Si should be limited to prevent excess Al in the body39. Zinc (Zn) is one of the most critical micro minerals in cell growth, brain development, behavioral response, bone formation and wound healing. Zn plays an essential key role in the metabolism of carbohydrates and proteins, storage of vitamin A and nucleic acid synthesis in cells. Zn deficiency can cause diseases such as Crohn's disease, hypothyroidism and some viral infections40,41. Selenium (Se) is a micromineral that is necessary for the essential biological functions of the body. Differently from the other (semi) metals, it is incorporated into proteins by a co-translational mechanism as part of the amino acid selenocysteine (SeCys), the 21st amino acid used for protein synthesis in humans42.

Anti-nutrient compounds: The anti-nutritional composition of M. calabura is shown in Table 3. The saponin content was 1.640±0.313%, alkaloid was 255±0208 mg/100 mL and phytate was 0.062±0.007%, while oxalate content was 7.18±0.329%.

The phytate acid content of M. calabura was low. The content of dietary phytic acid decreased in monogastric animals by 1-6% in the long term43. Phytate has been known to form complexes with proteins. This complex formation changes the structure of proteins that can lead to decreased protein solubility, enzymatic activity and proteolytic digestibility. Many researchers have focused on the presence of phytate in food due to its adverse effect on mineral absorption44.

Table 3:
Anti-nutrition content in Muntingia calabura fruit
*Exceeds the intake limit per day

Saponins were found to decrease nutrient bioavailability and decrease enzyme activity and they can affect protein digestibility via inhibiting various digestive enzymes such as trypsin and chymotrypsin45. The saponin content of M. calabura was within safe levels since amounts below 10% are harmless to the body.

The oxalate content of this fruit is quite low. Nowadays, patients are suggested to limit their intake of foods with a total intake of oxalate not exceeding 50-60 mg per day46. Consumption of oxalate can cause irritation of the gut lining and can prove fatal in large doses. The insoluble calcium oxalate has the tendency to precipitate thus forming sharp-edged calcium oxalate crystals. These crystals play a role in the formation of kidney stones in the urinary tract. Alkaloids are believed to be anti-nutrients due to their action on the nervous system, disrupting or inappropriately augmenting electrochemical transmission47. Lethal doses for humans range from 3-6 mg kg1 body weight, although susceptibility varies considerably among individuals. A dose of more than 2 mg/kg is usually considered toxic48. They have been found to cause poison symptoms including vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, apathy, weakness and unconsciousness. The alkaloid content recorded in this study was quite high.


The finding from this study indicates that M. calabura fruit are nutrient-dense foods that can be good sources of carbohydrates, moisture and many minerals including Fe and K. It also showed that the juice of M. calabura fruit possesses high levels of vitamin C as an antioxidant. However, the validation of the specific alkaloid is needed to ensure the safety of this fruit.


This study found complete data on the nutrient content, mineral estimate and antioxidant capacity of M. calabura. There are few studies on the nutritional composition of this fruit in Makassar, Indonesia. Therefore, this study is important to record data and to expand our knowledge regarding the nutritional composition of food grown in Makassar. Further laboratory analysis to explore the kind of safe or unsafe alkaloid should be conducted.


The authors gratefully acknowledge financial support from the Almarisah Madani foundation.

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