There are many Indonesian underutilized vegetable plants.  Mostly they are native species, but some of them are introduced from some regions.  Indonesia is a rich country with natural resources. And became a meeting point for trade routes from east to west and vice versa long ago. The interaction far before and during the Dutch colonial era was one of the reasons for the process of species introduction.  The process is still continuing till today.

But time by time, some of the introduced vegetable plants become less popular.  There are some possibilities.  Firstly, is the taste.  For Indonesian people, some indigenous vegetables are less tasty than others. Secondly, is the availability.  Some introduced vegetables only grow in the highland.  So that, the quantity is not abundant compared to the other vegetable which more common.  Thirdly, is the easiness to cultivate.  Some introduced vegetables need special requirements for optimal growth. Fourthly, is the profit.  Common vegetables plants have high demand, while introduced vegetable plants only have a niche market. 

Tetragonia tetragonioides, one of the Indonesian underutilized vegetable

Originally, this species is one of the coastal plants.  Natively from Australia and New Zealand.  They grow in salty soils.  The distribution is wide. They can be found in the many areas of the Pacific islands.  Based on information from Indishce Groenten book, Tetragonia tetranonioides is introduced from Australia.  During the 1920s, people grew them mostly in the highland of West Java and some highlands in Indonesia.  They grew well in these areas.  Some reports also mention, at that time peoples also cultivate them in the medium land. 

About Tetragonia tetragonioides

Tetragonia tetragonioides synonym is Tetragonia expansa, Demidovia tetragonioides.  In Indonesia, this species popular as Bayam Selandia Baru.  Member of Aizoaceae family.  Their origin habitus is in the coastal areas.  Succulent and perennial plant.  Their stem and leaves have green in color.  The leaves width is from 0.5-5 cm.  The flowers appear almost in every axillar part. With the size 2-10 mm, their flowers have a greenish to yellow color.

Indonesian underutilized vegetable

Nutritional content

Tetragonia tetragonioides has low saturated fat and cholesterol.  Good sources for Vitamin A, Vitamin C, riboflavin, Vitamin B6, thiamin, niacin, folic acid, phosphor, potassium, and calcium.  They also contain some antioxidants such as Cerebrocide, ferulic acid.

Heath benefits

Based on information from idnmedis.com, Tetragonia tetragonioides has some benefits for your health:

Anti-ageing

Ferulic acid content has anti-inflammatory and free radical scavenging activities.  It will prevent skin damage caused by sunlight. So that the consumption of this plant, possibly optimize the prevention of pigmentation and have an anti-wrinkle effect.

Reduce obesity risk

a laboratory study using rats reported that the treatment of Tetragonia tetragonioides enhances the anti-obesity effect. The result can be seen from the decrease in fat levels. The decrease in fat content occurred in the abdominal tissue that was given the Tetragonia tetragonioides extract.

Reduce cholesterol

Tetragonia tetragonioides also reported its ability to decrease blood levels of triglycerides, fatty acids, and LDL bad fats. Meanwhile, at the same time, it also increases plasma levels of good HDL fats in the body. The results also show that Tetragonia tetragonioides can efficiently regulate the accumulation of serum triglycerides in the liver. This shows that Tetragonia tetragonioides can improve the condition of fatty liver.

Oxalate issue

Oxalic acid plays a role in metabolic processes. they bind to minerals and make them more easily absorbed and circulated throughout the body. In addition, oxalic acid also plays a role in the recovery process of cells by forming RNA.  But, excessive oxalate content will give some consequences.  Especially, in our metabolism system.

Tetragonia tetragonioides has a fairly high oxalate.  Oxalate is one of the anti-nutrition compounds.  The excess content will increase the risk of our kidneys.  Oxalate can bind the calcium and form calcium oxalate crystals.  The crystals will accumulate in our kidneys.  Oxalate can bind the iron and Niacin from our food. 

Cooking tips

For Indonesian underutilized vegetable, Tetragonia tetragonioides has a soft texture. Their taste is neutral but has a unique slightly bitter taste.  Actually, you also can eat as Lalab.  But because of the oxalate reason, the best way is by cooking it first.  Many cooking variations you can try with or without spices.  To reduce the oxalate content, you can put the stems and leaves in the boiling water for 1-3 minutes.


Muryanto Paiman

always love to learn from nature.  Passionate on studying plants in some aspects: the DNA, Identification, propagation, and their uses

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