Physico-chemical characteristics and composition of Vicia sativa

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Himachal Journal of Agricultural Research Vol. 29 (1&2) : 70-73, 2003

Physico-chemical characteristics and composition of Vicia sativa

Archana Sharma and Manoranjan Kalia

Department of Food Science and Nutrition

CSK H.P. Krishi Vishvavidyalaya, Palampur HP 176062

Seeds of Vicia sativa were analyzed for the physical and chemical characteristics. The diameter, average weight/100 grains, volume and water absorption capacity of the seeds were found to be 3.19 mm, 2.71 g, 0.60 cm3 and 1.10 cm3 respectively. The raw, soaked and autoclaved seeds were analyzed for proximate composition. The moisture, protein, ash, ether extract, fiber, nitrogen free extract, total soluble sugars and energy were found to be 8.83, 22.97, 3.03, 1.05, 4.59, 56.72, 3.89g/100g and 331 Kcal/100 g respectively. Significant decrease in protein, ash, fiber and total soluble sugars was observed after soaking and autoclaving and this decrease might be due to the leaching effect of these nutrients.


ood is one of the primary necessities of all biological systems. Civilizations have perished for their inability to provide food to its masses. Massive migrations have been forced in the events of famines and natural catastrophic calamities. The ability to provide food has often meant winning or losing of armies defending frontiers. Food has also played a significant role in the national and international diplomacy (Kalia, 2002). India, with a population of over one billion, presently produces about 13 million tones of legumes/ pulses, which constitute a major source of proteins (Anand, 1999). These pulses, commonly called Dhal, vary in their qualitative composition and some are rich in antinutritional factors. Intentional or unintentional adulteration of pulses is common. Among some of the known unintentional adulterants is Vicia sativa (Vetch) locally called Rodi. This legumenaceae family weed coming up with unheeded or self-sown crops of Kesari Dhal (Lathyrus sativus Linn) can withstand quite low temperatures and adverse conditions.

In the past, the seeds of vetch were consumed by the people as a dhal, but now its use is on decline and almost negligible, though it contains good amount of protein (23.5 %). With this consideration in mind, the present investigation with locally available seeds of vetch i.e. Vicia sativa was undertaken with the followin objectives:

  • To study the physical characteristics of vetch seeds (Vicia sativa).

  • To study the effect of treatments on proximate composition.

Materials and Methods
The samples were procured from local farmers, cleaned, washed and sorted from any other foreign particle and packed in polyethylene bags. In order to evaluate the nutritional quality of the vetch seeds, physical parameters like size of seeds, seed volume, and water absorption capacity were studied. For chemical analysis some parameters like protein, ether extract, crude fiber, nitrogen free extract, calorific value, total soluble sugars, etc. were taken into consideration (A.O.A.C., 1990). Because of the presence of some antinutritional factors following treatments were given.

  • Soaking sample soaked overnight in water under room temperature.

  • Autoclaving sample autoclaved for one hour at 0.1 kg/cm2 pressure.

Results and Discussion
The seeds of vetch were round and their diameter was 3.19 mm. The weight estimated on the basis of 100 count of vetch was 2.71 g whereas, the volume was 0.60 cm3 and water absorption capacity was 1.10 cm3.
Table 1. Physical characteristics of Vicia sativa









capacity (cm3)

Vicia sativa




Visual examination of samples under study showed that the vetch seeds were round and brownish in colour. The moisture content was 8.83, 10.94 and 10.24 per cent for the raw, soaked and autoclaved seeds of vetch respectively. The seeds contained 22.97 per cent protein whereas, protein content of soaked and autoclaved seeds was 19.15 and 15.22 per cent respectively. It could be due to the water-soluble proteins present in the seeds. The values of protein for raw vetch seeds were very close to 23.50 per cent as reported by Hector et. al., (1990), but as far as soaked and autoclaved vetch seeds were concerned, there was a great deal of loss of protein content. Similar results have been reported by Jha (1988).


The percentage of ash content in raw, soaked and autoclaved seeds was 3.03, 2.89 and 2.59 respectively. Ash content in the raw vetch seeds was very closely related to the limit (3.10 %) as described by Round (1989). The fat content was observed as 1.05, 1.03 and 1.26 per cent for the samples (untreated, soaked and autoclaved). The fat content was very much within the limits (1.10 %) as described by Round (1989). It is evident from the Table 2 that untreated vetch seeds had 4.59 per cent crude fiber content whereas, soaked and autoclaved seeds had 4.06 and 3.91 per cent crude fiber content respectively. Difference in soaked samples could be due to the physical errors and difference in autoclaved samples could be due to the effect of heat on the samples. Nitrogen free extract includes soluble sugar and carbohydrates. It is also considered as a rough index for the estimation of the carbohydrates. The extent of nitrogen free extract generally depends upon the presence of various important nutrients like crude protein, fat, ash, crude fiber etc. and subtracting all these from 100. Nitrogen free extract was 56.72 per cent for raw vetch samples followed by 62.71 and 66.53 per cent for soaked and autoclaved samples, respectively. The increase in nitrogen free extract could be due to the fact that overall nutrients in these treatments were comparatively lesser as compare to raw seeds. All the treatments were significantly different at 5 per cent level. In the present study maximum calories were present in autoclaved vetch samples (344 Kcal), followed by soaked and untreated samples with 338 and 331 Kcal energy respectively and the reason for this difference in treatments could be due to the multiplication factor by which the calorific value in the samples were calculated or presence of protein, fat and carbohydrates in the seeds. An attempt has been made in the present investigation to find out the cooking quality of vetch seeds. This factor is important because the people use vetch intentionally or unintentionally in the form of dhal or sometimes it comes as an adulterant in the Masoor (Lentil) dhal. In the present study

Table 2. Proximate composition of Vicia sativa

Parameters (%)

Raw seeds

Soaked seeds

Autoclaved seeds

CD (5%)
















Ether extract










Nitrogen free extract





Energy (Kcal)





Total soluble solids





vetch had 3.89 per cent total soluble sugars, whereas soaked and autoclaved had 3.50 and 2.29 per cent total soluble sugars respectively. The difference in the treatments could be due to the water-soluble sugars, which leached out during the time of soaking or autoclaving of the samples as stated by Jha (1988).
It is concluded from the study that vetch is a good source of protein and energy when consumed in limited quantity once in a
while without much effect on the human health. Whereas, soaking and autoclaving showed the leaching effect on protein contents, fiber contents and total soluble sugars. A couple of families who consumed vetch stated that it tasted good and considered as a hot food and usually consumed during the cold season, however caused drowsiness in some instances, could be due to the presence of some antinutritional factors.


Anand, G., Naik-Kurade and Sangam, A. Kurade, 1999. Food Processing Industry-Industrial and Export Opportunities. Beverage and Food World. 28(5): 16-18.


.O.A.C. 1990. Approved Methods of Association of Official Analytical Chemists, Washington D.C.
Hector, A. Marcela, A. and Groria, V. 1990. Calidad Nutricional De La Proteina De La Falsa Lenteja. (Vicia sativa spp. Aborata (ser) Gandin). Departmento De Nutricion Facultad de Medicina Uni Versad de Chile, Santiago, Chile, Vol. XL. No 4: 589-593.
Jha, K. 1988. Effect of the boiling and decanting method of Khesari Lathyrus sativus detoxification, on changes in selected nutrients. Nutritional Abstract Review, Vol. 58, No. 10; 5523.
Kalia Manoranjan 2002. Food Analysis and Quality Control (Ed). Kalyani Publishers, Ludhiana India pp 1.
Round, M. M. 1989. Vetch seeds as a feed for sheep. Nutritional Abstract Review

Series (B) Vol. 59, No. 11.


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