This study determined the nutrient and some anti-nutrient components in Telfairia occidentalis
seeds. The work also evaluated the effects of processing on some of the anti-nutritional factors in the seeds as well as growth and animal metabolism. Fresh seeds of T. occidentalis
were divided into three groups based on heat treatment: group 1, the unprocessed (raw) seeds; group 2, the under-processed seeds (heat-treated at 70℃ for 30 min); and group 3, the processed seeds (cooked at 100℃ for 1 hr). Seeds from each group were de-hulled, sun-dried and pulverized. Portions from each group were subjected to proximate composition analysis; trypsin inhibitor and lectin content were also measured in the seeds. The dried seed samples were incorporated into the diets of experimental animals. Twenty albino rats were randomly divided into four groups and fed with the control or experimental diets for a period of 21 days. During this period, body weights of the animals and feed intake were recorded daily and feces and urine were collected. At the end of experimental period, blood samples were collected from the animals for heamatological analysis, then the animals were sacrificed and some key organs were excised for histopathological analysis. Results showed that the seeds contained essential nutrients and that processing significantly affected the lectin and trypsin inhibitor (anti-nutrients) in the seeds. In comparison with control animals, the parameters measured which included body weight gain, nutrient digestibility, nitrogen balance, nitrogen retention and hematological parameters were markedly different among the three groups of animals fed diets incorporated with the seeds. Histopathological analysis indicated that the spleen and small intestines were adversely affected in the experimental animals. In conclusion, T. occidentalis
seeds have high nutritive value, but could have deleterious effects in animals if ingested without adequate processing. It could, however serve as a high quality and low cost plant protein source for animal feed formulations provided adequate seed processing is ensured.