Ukwa is a traditional meal that is commonly eaten by the Igbo people of South-Eastern Nigeria. The botanical name of this food is Treculia africana while the English name is African breadfruit. Ukwa can be made into a porridge delicacy or it can be fried and eaten with palm kernel or coconut. It is a seasonal cuisine in Nigeria and thus is expensive when it is out of season. But it can be preserved and eaten all year round.
The health benefits of this meal have been categorized as follows:
Cardiovascular Health Benefits
Ukwa is an excellent source of potassium. This heart-friendly nutrient reduces blood pressure in the body and regulates the heart rate by minimizing the effects of sodium. It conducts electrical charges that drive muscular contraction in the skeletal system including the heart. Dietary fiber helps reduce cholesterol by preventing its absorption in the gut. Ukwa lowers bad cholesterol (LDL) and increases good cholesterol (HDL) in the body. It also reduces triglyceride levels, which is one of the main causes of heart attacks.
Digestive Health Benefits
The fiber in ukwa flushes out the toxins from the intestine. This invariably aids in proper functioning of the bowel and intestine. Consumption of ukwa also prevents digestion-related diseases like heartburn, acidity, ulcer and gastritis. This food protects the colon’s mucous membrane by warding off cancer-causing chemicals from the colon.
The high amount of vitamin C in ukwa helps in the production of collagen, a protein that promotes the skin’s elasticity. Again, the antioxidants in ukwa also provide an effective shield against ultra-violent radiations. Regular consumption of ukwa encourages the growth of new cells which rejuvenates damaged skin. So, if you want a smooth, wrinkle free skin, eat more of it.
Good for the teeth
Eating toasted breadfruit flower can help relieve toothache. Applying crushed breadfruit leaves on the tongue can also cure thrush.
Ukwa contains omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acid. These two, known as polyunsaturated fatty acids, play vital roles in pregnancy. They provide support for foetal growth. They are the main building block for foetal retina and neuron development of the foetus.
Aids Hair Care
Ukwa contains several hair-friendly nutrients. These nutrients aid hair maintenance and growth. Vitamin C in breadfruit facilitates the absorption of minerals and provides nourishment to the hair. Omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids present in it help to naturally condition the hair and thereby reduce hair breakage. The fatty acids present in breadfruit regulate the sebum production in the scalp. This in turn reduces dandruff and itchiness. It also inhibits scalp inflammation and cell death.
In conclusion, include ukwa in your diet to reap its nutritional benefits.
The Guardian Online
Featured image source: Nigerian Foods