5 Nigerian Foods You Never Want to Underestimate Again

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. tiikeripahkina-722x300-000000

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.

Nutrient content: Protein, fat, carbohydrates, fibre, iron, magnesium, zinc, potassium and vitamin B6. Nature’s Lab experts recommend eating tiger nuts raw, dried, or in juiced form.

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. soursop-cancer-killer

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. 5056s_710440

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. mypictz2008

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:

2 x the amount of protein in yoghurt
4 x the amount of Vitamin A in carrots
3x the amount of potassium in bananas
4 x the amount of calcium in cow’s milk
7 x the amount of vitamin C in oranges
According to a report published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention, Moringa contains a mix of essential amino acids (the building blocks of proteins), carotenoids (the same kind found in carrots and tomatoes), antioxidants such as quercetin, and natural antibacterial compounds that work in the same way as many conventional anti-inflammatory drugs. Research published in the Journal of Food Science and Technology showed that Moringa could help slow the effects of ageing by balancing hormones effectively. Research also shows that Moringa is beneficial to the libido. However, for women of childbearing age, it should be noted that Moringa also acts as a natural contraceptive, reducing conception rates.
Studies have also shown Moringa to be beneficial to breastfeeding women as it stimulates milk production. Due to its powerful anti-inflammatory properties, Moringa has traditionally been used in Ayurvedic medicine to prevent or treat stomach ulcers, liver disease, kidney damage, and fungal infections. Moringa contains chlorogenic acid which has been shown to help control blood sugar levels. Research published in the International Journal of Food Science showed that when eaten as part of a high carbohydrate meal, Moringa has positive effects on blood sugar control. 27370068_ml
Moringa oil directly applied to the skin has been shown to be effective in treatment of conditions such as athletes foot, acne, dandruff, burns, gum disease, and viral warts. Moringa is also rich in the amino acid tryptophan, which in turn ensures optimal production of the feel good hormone serotonin, which helps prevent depression, mood swings, insomnia and low libido. Every part of the Moringa plant is nutritious. The leaves, seeds, flowers, stem and roots are all sources of nutrition.
Nature’s Lab® experts recommend using the dried Moringa leaves to brew tea. Steep the leaves in hot water for a few minutes to release the special chemical compounds locked within. You can also grind the dried leaves to a powder and add to your smoothies for a delicious healthy drink. Interestingly, due to its ability to absorb bacteria, Moringa seeds are used for water purification. Studies show that 0.2 grams of ground Moringa seed can purify 1.0 litre of contaminated water and make it safe for drinking. The fresh leaves can also be added to soups and vegetable dishes.
Look out for part 2 of our Nigerian foods to not underestimate later in the year. Go ahead and be the best version of you.




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