Dream of Wild Health Network
Incorporating indigenous and heirloom crop species into today's commercial varieties strengthens the genetic diversity of producers' plant resource base.
To analyze the nutritional value of three heirloom varieties each of corn, beans and squash plants, supplied through American Indian contacts.
Corn varieties include Ojibwe sweet corn, Ojibwe flour corn, and Mandan flint corn. Beans include Mandan red pole beans, Arikara yellow beans, and Ojibwe goose beans. Squash used are Mandan green and white squash, Arikara, green zucchini and Mandan summer squash.
The producer planted and harvested several plants of each of these varieties at her organic farm. She also conducted nutritional analyses with university researchers, and performed comparisons with commercial crop varieties.
One 100-gram serving of heirloom corn provides 47% of the recommended daily nutritional value for total fiber, 0.6 grams of which is soluble. Each serving provides 29% of daily thiamin, 33% of magnesium, and 13% of selenium, compared to zero percent of selenium in commercial varieties. Native corn is a good source of iron, zinc, copper, potassium, niacin, and vitamin B-6. Each serving also provides one gram of inulin, versus zero grams from commercial corn, and are high in carbohydrates and protein, and low in fat.
One serving of heirloom beans provides 96% of daily fiber, 1.3 grams of which is soluble. Each serving provides 35% of daily thiamin and is a good source of pantothenic acid, niacin, vitamin B-6, potassium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and copper. One serving contains 33% of daily selenium, which is three times more than in a serving of commercial beans. Native beans are high in carbohydrates and protein, and low in fat.
One serving of heirloom squash provides 13% of daily fiber, 0.6 grams of which is soluble. Each serving provides 64% of daily vitamin A and 5% of chromium. It also contains only 38 calories per serving, compared to 83 calories with commercial squash varieties.
Each native variety also tested exceptionally high for antioxidants, nutrients that protect against smoke, pollution, chemicals, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and other free radical molecules that harm the body.