As we embark on the still relatively new year ahead, our experts at Nature’s Lab® have compiled a list of 5 seriously healthy Nigerian foods that could transform your life. Packed with nutrients and versatile enough to be enjoyed in a variety of ways, these foods can be seamlessly added to your diet as part of your healthy eating goals for the year ahead. Here we go:
1. Tiger Nuts -Tiger nuts are not only highly nutritious, but can serve as a very tasty snack or delicious drink. Packed with a high fibre content, tiger nuts are also high in anti-oxidants, protecting the body from the damaging effects of disease-causing free radicals. Interestingly, research has also shown Tiger nuts to be effective in fighting bacterial infections in the body. Research has also shown some correlation between consumption of tiger nuts and blood sugar level control in diabetic patients.
LDL cholesterol which is often referred to as ‘bad’ cholesterol because of its implication in heart disease, has been shown to be lowered in the blood stream by Tiger Nuts. The skin care buffs out there would also be pleased to know that recent research has shown tiger nuts to possess anti-ageing qualities when processed into cosmetic products. Last but certainly not least, a recent study conducted in 2015, showed that consumption of Tiger Nuts has a possible positive effect on male sexual performance.
2. Soursop (also known as Guanabana or Graviola) – In recent years, this delicious tasting fruit has received a whole lot of attention and when you consider the significant health benefits derived from its consumption, it’s easy to justify all the fuss. In rural areas, Soursop is a popular treatment option for parasitic infections. Brewing a tea from its dried leaves has also been shown to be a highly effective stomach cleanser. Due to its potent anti-inflammatory properties, Soursop has also been shown to be effective in providing relief for patients with joint pains and arthritis.
For those suffering coughs and colds, Soursop is effective can act as an expectorant, clearing mucus and phlegm from the respiratory tract. It also speeds up recovery from bouts of cold and flu. For the busy worker, Soursop tea has been shown to be effective at relieving stress and anxiety. For those interested in optimal skin health, experts at Nature’s Lab recommend crushing Soursop seeds into a fine powder and using it as an astringent to reduce lines and wrinkles, and improve the appearance of blemishes. Perhaps the most important and most talked about benefit of consuming Soursop is its ability to prevent and possibly treat cancer.
The antioxidant compound in Soursop that give it its anti-cancer properties are called acetogenins. Research has shown that these compounds are able to cut off blood supply to any abnormal cellular growths in the body. Soursop has successfully been used as part of treatment plans for lung, pancreas, prostate and breast cancer sufferers. It’s high Vitamin C content also makes soursop an effective immune booster. As a juice, soursop is an effective stomach cleanser. Traditionally, its been used to treat dysentery for decades in rural areas.
3. Alligator Pepper – This popular spice commonly served alongside kola nuts and garden eggs in a blended form of peanut butter is full of health benefits you probably never knew about. Alligator has excellent antioxidant properties which has consistently been shown to be vital for disease prevention. Its seed extracts can also be used for treating stomach problems such as diarrhoea, ulcer and worms. It is also very effective in wound healing and treating burns when crushed into powder form.
Research has also shown that alligator pepper has broad spectrum antimicrobial properties due to its phenolic compound component. Consistently, research has proven alligator pepper to be effective as an aphrodisiac. Apart from stimulating sexual desire, it also helps reduce the incidence of premature ejaculation in men. The aqueous extract of the alligator pepper plant has also been shown to be effective in reducing pains associated with teeth, joints and stomach. Alligator pepper seeds also prevent constipation and bloating by aiding easy food digestion. Due to their stimulating properties, the seeds can also be chewed as a stimulant to keep the mind and body alert.
4. Unripe Plantain -For those of us addicted, yes addicted to fried plantain, please note that these health benefits do not count! Lol. We are focused on unripe plantain and its health benefits. Due to their high potassium content, snacking on unripe plantain or adding it as a side dish are delicious ways to help you control your blood pressure. Research shows that people who consume diets with high potassium levels tend to have a lower risk of stroke, osteoporosis and renal disease.
The high fibre content of plantain also plays a significant role in maintaining a healthy digestive health. According to research by Department of Internal Medicine and Nutritional Sciences at the University of Kentucky, consuming plantain is a great way to relieve constipation and provide relief from hemorrhoids and other digestive problems. Due to its high fibre content, unripe plantains are also great at assisting individuals in losing weight, lowering blood pressure, and controlling blood sugar levels.
Unripe plantains are also rich in Vitamin C, which is an essential nutrient involved in the growth and repair of tissues all over the body. Another great benefit of adding unripe plantains to your diet is its immunity boosting properties. Due to its Vitamin A content, eating a healthy portion of unripe plantains is a great way of boosting your body’s defence system against illness. Plantains are also a healthy source of Vitamin B6, which research has shown to benefit healthy brain function and performance. Unripe plantains also contain magnesium, which has been shown to be a very important nutrient required for numerous bodily functions and processes to run smoothly.
Research into dried plantain powder has led to its emergence as a treatment option for stomach ulcer sufferers. Plantains can be consumed baked, boiled, grilled, roasted or fried. Nature’s Lab also recommends steam-cooking them for the elderly, grinding them into flour and used with milk for infant food, chopping them up and consuming with green vegetables.
5. Moringa -Moringa has gained a reputation for fighting inflammation and combating various effects of malnutrition and ageing, earning it the nickname “the miracle plant”. Did you know that gram for gram, Moringa contains: