If you are a Nigerian, food especially soups will be incomplete and probably downright uninviting without the luscious greenness of the vegetables used. Markets are decorated with the colours of the leafy vegetables scattered all around them. A presumably ‘dead’ or old soup can be resurrected with a sprinkle of fresh green vegetables.
The Nigerian leafy vegetables not only garnish our foods but play a vital role in our overall health. For this reason, we shall be looking at 5 common Nigerian vegetables and their health benefits to your body.
Without further ado, here goes…
Scent leaf is a super veggie that has a peculiar colour, distinct scent and packed with loads of nutritional and medicinal properties. It is cultivated in Nigeria and known as Nchuanwu to the Igbos, Daidoya to the Hausas and Efinrin to the Yorubas. Scent leaf is commonly used in preparing soups, pepper soup, soups, and yam.
- The juice from the Scent leaf can be used to cure several stomach related illnesses like cholera, diarrhea, dysentery, vomiting, and convulsion.
- Scent leaves are also used in the prevention and treatment of a cough, malaria, catarrh, and fever.
The sharp greenness of this vegetable alongside its health properties makes it one of the most common vegetables in the Nigerian food market.
You mostly find waterleaf used in cooking popular vegetable soup Edikang ikong
- The waterleaf plant helps in weight loss
- Regular consumption of waterleaf helps diabetics due to its ability to regulate blood sugar level in the body.
- This leaf can be used to treat constipation, indigestion and other stomach related problems.
- Waterleaf plays a role in preventing stroke and other heart-related problems.
Bitterleaf is a common Nigerian vegetable known for its bitter taste. Igbos call it onugbo, Hausas shiwaka , and Yorubas Ewuro. This leaf is useful and filled with lots of health benefits needed by the body. No Nigerian market, especially in the eastern and southern parts, is complete without the bitter leaf vegetable.
Igbos use it in preparation of their staple soup Ofe Onugbu (Onugbu soup).
- It assists in the reduction of high sugar level in the blood and also is a great aid for diabetic patients.
- Bitterleaf is a strong antioxidant, rich with numerous phytochemicals used in cancer prevention.
- Bitter leaf detoxifies the blood, prevents indigestion, scurvy and nourishes the skin.
- The juice extracted from bitter leaf can be used in the treatment of nausea, dysentery and other digestive or appetite problems.
The African Spinach also locally known as Soko is a Nigerian vegetable that is common in the food market. This perennial herb is used in the preparation of many Nigerian delicacies. Aside from its richness in Nigerian dishes, this leaf is called a functional food for its numerous nutritional and antioxidant properties.
- Filled with dietary fiber to keep you fuller and aid in easy digestion, this leaf is also very low in fat.
- Soko has a high level of calcium in it hence regular consumption of this veggie can reduce your risk of high blood pressure.
- It also improves bone health.
- Because of the zinc property in African spinach, it helps protect against viral infections, especially those that cause common colds.
Fluted Pumpkin Leaves:
Known locally as the ‘Ugu/ ugwu’ leaf, the fluted pumpkin leaves are arguably the most popular leafy vegetable in almost all parts of the country. Soups, stews and other staple Nigerian dishes benefit from the greenness and health properties of this vegetable. Many on a weight loss diet also steam this leaf with a little spice and eat alone.
Health Benefits Include:
- This leaf has lots of dietary fiber and has very low calories.
- Helps in treatment of infertility
- Assists in stress reduction
- They contain a lot of iron, which helps in red blood cell production. Highly recommended for anemic
- Incorporating this leaf into your diet helps in preventing premature aging.
These are just some of the leaves that are common in Nigeria. Now that you know how much they aid in making you healthier, you can go ahead and eat more of them. Play around with preparation and use different spices to bring out the taste of these gorgeous vegetables.
Remember that with vegetables, it is important that you avoid overcooking so as not to destroy most of the heat-sensitive nutrients in them.