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Saturday 18 August 2018

Health Benefits of Ugba (African Oil Bean Seed)

Been searching for more plant sources of protein to increase my protein intake and thought of Ugba.  (African Oil bean Seed)  Truly there are just  few foods in our market that are closer to organic than having additives and this happen to be one of them.

The tree is a native of tropical Africa region and has been cultivated since 1937.  This nutrient packed food has been neglected and under exploited over the years.  The crop actually belong to the leguminasae family and the mimosoidae subfamily. They present in dark brown pods quite hard and woody in appearance.  The glossy brown seeds are the most widely used part of the plant, usually about eight in number are contained in a flattened pod that explodes when fully matured for consumption dispersing the seeds all over the environment where the tree is planted. Igbos call it Ugba or Ukpaka, Yorubas of Western Nigeria call it Apara, while the Efik tribe call it Ukana.

This often ignored nutrient seede is a source of protein about 44% which is high in my estimation also a source of important minerals like calcium, magnesium, manganese, phosporus, iron, copper  as well as excellent source of phytonutrients, sterols glycosides and saponins, however fermentation process which it must undergo before consumption reduces some of these nutrients and phytonutrients.

Here are More Reasons to include Ugba into your diet

1.  Good Plant source of Protein

Protein is known as our body's building block, it is therefore important to ensure we get sufficient protein daily into our diet.  Unfortunately, many are not bothered about this and the result is usually a weakened and suppressed immune system.  One way I have devised to include this protein rich food to my soup is by pounding or blending is with spices to add  as a thickener to my soups thereby increasing its protein content different from meat.  It also provide a low cost of protein for those who cannot afford meat or those who are avoiding meat for health reasons.

 2.  Anti Inflammatory properties

It is important we work daily to include as many such foods as possible into our diet, anti inflammatory foods helps ward off inflammatory diseases like arthritis and other bone problems, additionally problems like stomach ulcers, tookache, joint pains are better managed with an anti inflammatory diet including protein sources like ugba.

3.  Helps in treating Insomnia

The place of good nights sleep towards total wellness cannot be overemphasized.  More studies today are showing that more and more people are suffering insomnia, being the inability to sleep refreshingly especially at night over a period of time.  Including the paste of this seed in your soups especially towards the even towards the evening helps resolve this problem.

4.  Great For Anaemia

An interesting aspect of Ugba which actually drew me closer is its ability to boost the body's haemoglobin content.  Naturally get sufficient iron is far better than resorting the blood synthetic blood tonics that are mostly inflammatory.  So if you are working to getting more iron naturally, then go for Ugba. 

5.  Healthy Heart

According to, Researchers in Africa discovered that the fermented seed of 'African oil bean could be used  to prevent and cure heart failure.  Being a source of magnesium, the fermented seed is good for maintaining a healthy heart beat.

6.  Fertility

The fermented seeds  are used in preparing herbal medicines for treating fertility.  Including the fermented seeds to our soups is also a great way to boost fertility.

7.  Cholesterol Reduction

The seed is rich in Saponins, which have been proven effective for reducing plasma Cholesterol, however, it is important to note that saponins are toxic when taken in excess.

8.  Cataract Prevention

Research is showing that eating the fermented seeds regularly may reduce the likelihood of developing cataract.  Cataract prevents by clouding of the eyes natural lens, which lies behind the iris and the pupil varying in degree from slight to complete opacity and obstructing the passage of light. 

9.  Cancer Prevention

Studies in Nigeria is showing that African oil bean  seed  has the capability of reducing cancer growth.  A comparative study carried out in Nigeria revealed that cancer patients who ate fermented African oil bean seeds during the research period recorded a great reduction in cancer risks and growth unlike those who did not.

It is important to note that saponins in excess may be toxic and fermenting the seeds before consumption is the best and safest way to access the nutrients.  Adding this foods is
also a great way to ensure occasional probiotics in your cut which helps maintain a healthy gut.



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