Widespread malnutrition among Ghanaian infants could be attributed to unfortified plant-based complementary foods commonly used at the household level. This review summarises the publications on the development of complementary food blends and intervention trials aimed at improving the nutritional status of Ghanaian infants. The complementary food blends are cereal-based which are developed from maize (in higher proportion) together with soyabean, cowpea and/or groundnut-an effort to improve protein and energy levels. The cereal-legume blends affect growth more positively than cereal-only formulations but not micronutrient status unless fortified with micronutrients. The low level of micronutrients (including vitamin A) and the high phytate content of cereal-legume blends partly account for micronutrient deficiencies. Phytate limits the bioavailability of nutrients such as iron, calcium and zinc. We propose an alternative complementary food blend which is based on sweet potato. This proposed formulation would be relatively high in endogenous β-carotene (vitamin A precursor) and low in phytate compared to household-level cereal-based complementary foods.
Key words: Cereal-legume, complementary food, Ghana, malnutrition, phytate, sweet potato.
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