Food is the soul of a country. Nigerian cuisine is popular for its authentic flavorful spices and aromas. However, Nigerian cuisine doesn’t just inspire the taste buds. They have numerous health benefits because of the inclusion of lean meats, whole grains, and vegetables in the dishes. Over centuries Nigerians have tried to maintain the taste of the food whilst ensuring the health benefits of the diet. It is through our ancestors that we are able to retain the wealth of aroma and flavor in the popular recipes we have today.
Health is perhaps our most important aspect, and food contributes primarily to maintaining it. Apart from a mix of exercises and physical activities for a healthy body and mind, the stomach also needs to be taken care of. Today we tell you of 5 must have foods that are a part of Nigerian cuisine which are great for health:
1. Pumpkin leaves
Packed with vitamins, pumpkin leaves have numerous health benefits. They have a healthy amount of Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Calcium and Iron. Additionally, pumpkin leaves have minerals that help in healing wounds and help form scar tissues. It also helps to fight against cancer, infections and lowers cholesterol. If these benefits aren’t enough for you, pumpkin leaves also help in combating diabetes and tackles convulsion. Convulsions are a sudden, violent and irregular movement of the body which can be associated with brain disorders like epilepsy. Studies have also shown that pumpkin leaves can treat issues of infertility as well.
Recipes where pumpkin leaves are used: Edikang Ikong, Stir-fried vegetables, Pumpkin Leaves sauce, beef stew with pumpkin leaves, Pumpkin leaves soup.
A popular saying goes “Yam is food and food is yam”. Nigeria is the world’s largest producer of yams. Yams also have strong cultural ties with Nigerians celebrating the harvesting of yams every year. It is a staple diet in most Nigerian households and has many health benefits. Tuber, the main part of the yam plant, has high carbohydrate content and is low on fat. The high carbohydrate content helps in providing energy. Apart from being a great source of carbohydrate, yams also decrease blood pressure, improve heart health and brain cognition, fight infections and are a wonderful source of manganese. Yams are also great in keeping hair and the skin healthy. They are also rich in iron, Vitamin A and Selenium.
Recipes where yams are used: Ji Mmiri Yoku (for young moms), yam porridge, yamarita, pounded yam, yam balls.
3. Bitter Melon
Do not get alarmed at the suggestion, rather be surprised if you are not including this in your diet because of its health benefits. It helps in maintaining blood sugar levels and lowers bad cholesterol in our body. It is also excellent for a glowing skin and lustrous hair. the nutrients Vitamin A, C, Biotin, and Zinc add the luster to the hair and improve its health. It also cleanses the liver and cures hangovers. So if you are bogged down after a night of celebration, a bitter guard juice is all it takes to get back to life. Bitter guard juice also boosts the immune system and helps in weight loss. According to research done by the journal Current Pharmacology Nigeria, bitter melon is the best herbal remedy for diabetes and also helps in treating chronic ailments like cancer.
Recipes where bitter melon is used: Egusi Soup, bitter melon juice, bitter melon dried and fried as chips
Crayfish finds its way into a number of Nigerian recipes. Its benefits include promoting eye health, helps in combatting depression, helps maintain a healthy brain and healthy skin. The omega 3 fatty acids present in help in improving bone health and prevention of arthritis and osteoporosis.
Recipes where crayfish are used: Crayfish is consumed as a main course fried or steamed with vegetables, its broth can also serve as a soup.
5. Bitter leaf
Abundant in antioxidants, this ingredient has been subject of many research papers that testify its benefits. They are used in a number of Nigerian recipes but yet people are unaware of its miraculous benefits. Bitter leaves can relieve stomach aches, fights dangerous diseases like prostate cancer, pneumonia, enhances fertility and also helps to suffer from sleeplessness or insomnia.
If you are already eating these wonderful ingredients than bravo! But its still good to note how they are benefitting you. If you are in your 30s, it is advisable to get a health check-up done to get an understanding of where you stand on the health chart and the areas you should be working on. Get in touch with leading diagnostic centers through Vconnect!