Abundantly blessed with vegetation, Nigeria has an enormous array of agricultural produce, and top on this list of food produce are leafy greens. Amazingly rich in vitamins and antioxidants, these healthy fresh vegetables form the basis of most Nigerian soups and quite many dishes.
Having a fair knowledge of the nourishing power of these greens will to a large extent help you adequately harness them. Without much ado, let's have a look at some of the most popular green vegetables that grace the table in most Nigerian homes.
Ugwu (Telfairia Occidentalis)
Indigenous to Southern Nigeria and also called fluted pumpkin or fluted gourd, this leafy green is an attractive commodity for many cuisines, home and abroad. Like all other dark leafy greens, ugwu leaves are loaded with outstanding antioxidant properties, dietary fibre and quality levels of Vitamins A, B2, C and K. Other nutrients such as calcium, copper, iron, potassium, zinc and traces of folic acid and manganese are equally found in these leaves.
Ugwu is known to be anti-inflammatory while also possessing several incredible preventive and healing capacities.
This is another green leafy with lots of nutrients and health gains. Slimy in nature when cooked, this leafy green is a favourite amongst the Yorubas and in many other non-Yoruba homes and the North. The Hausas call it Rama Ayoyo.
Also loaded with antioxidants and Vitamins A, C and E, ewedu replenishes and prevents cell damage from free radicals; and can protect your body from several degenerative diseases. Weight loss, firm lustrous skin, improved eyesight, strong bones and healthy teeth, immunity boost, and healthy bowel movement are some of the numerous advantages of including jute leaves in your diet regularly.
Scent Leaves (Ocimum gratissimum)
The leaves with the many names - that's how I refer to this versatile nutritious leafy green. The English call it Basil, Yorubas call it Efirin, the Ibos Nchanwu, and even the Hausas have a name for it - Daidoya. True to its name, scent leaves are prominent for their distinct aroma, one of the many reasons it's an essential condiment in Peppersoup and several other dishes.
Beyond that, they are highly laden with beta-carotene antioxidants, calcium, phosphorous, iron and vitamins A, K and C. Thus often used for natural curative purposes - from the treatment of bacterial infections, STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections), to diabetes and several gastrointestinal ailments. Regular intake of Efirin lowers your cholesterol levels and provides numerous essential nutrients required for optimal health.