Bioactive polyphenols and peptides in cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) and their health promoting properties: A review Academic Article uri icon


  • 2016 Elsevier Ltd Cowpea is a drought and heat tolerant grain pulse. It contains high levels of polyphenols, with some profiles not commonly found in other pulses. The major polyphenols common to all cowpea varieties are phenolic acids derivatives (1481176 g/g), and flavonol glycosides (271060 g/g). Some varieties also contain anthocyanins (8753860 g/g), and/or flavan-3-ols (21556297 g/g). The flava-3-ols (tannins) are dominated by monomers, mostly catechin-7-O-glucoside. This likely makes cowpea tannins more bioavailable, while limiting their potential antinutritional properties. Cowpea also contains beneficial bioactive peptides. Evidence suggests significant anti-inflammatory effect, and benefits against cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease of cowpea polyphenols and peptides, with potential synergistic interactions. Polyphenol profile has a major impact on these properties, thus varieties can be selected for targeted benefits. With its agronomic advantages, nutritional, and health benefits, cowpea is likely to play an increasing role as ingredient in modern food applications.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 1

author list (cited authors)

  • Awika, J. M., & Duodu, K. G.

citation count

  • 75

complete list of authors

  • Awika, Joseph M||Duodu, Kwaku G

publication date

  • January 2017