Ward off Diabetes, Heart Diseases and others with African breadfruit (ukwa)
African breadfruit is one valued Eastern Nigeria food whose awareness is rapidly growing in Nigeria. The recent trend is for People to jettison the usual popular jollof rice and go for local delicacies like African breadfruit (ukwa).These local delicacies apart from their nutritional benefits are known to wade off diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and the rest.
Plants with ethno-medicinal anda nutritive values have the potential to provide important means or leads for a rational treatment and management of a disease like diabetes, the cure of which has eluded physicians and health care providers for centuries. The world health organization (WHO) has called for a renewed search and discovery of new medicinal agents from natural sources (WHO, 1980),
African breadfruit(ukwa) whose botanical name is Treculia Africana belongs to the family of Moraceae. It is found mostly in the forest region. Breadfruit is called “Afon” by the Yorubas, ukwa by Igbos, “ediang” by Efiks and Ibibios, “Ize” by Benins and “bafafuta” by Hausas.
African breadfruit (ukwa) seeds are usually roasted and taken together with coconut or palm kernel seeds. Roasted ukwa has the flavour of groundnuts. At times it is prepared as porridge, refreshing drinks, cakes, snacks or cookies.
Breadfruit contains moderate levels of essential vitamins and minerals. It is rich in riboflavin, iron, niacin, It contains minerals like potassium, copper, iron, magnesium, calcium, zinc, manganese, selenium and phosphorus. It also has adequate levels of protein.
Health benefits of African Breadfruit (Ukwa)
African breadfruit is an excellent source of potassium, an important component of cell and body fluids that help regulate heart rate and blood pressure. Dietary fiber helps reduce blood cholesterol by preventing its absorption in the gut. It decreases the triglyceride levels, which is one of the main causes of heart attacks.
Good for Diabetes
African Breadfruit contains fibre. The fibre in ukwa help control blood glucose level by reducing the absorption of sugar from the food we eat. A study carried out showed that African Breadfruit diet significantly lowered blood lipid levels and blood glucose levels in rats feed with the diet compared to rats fed a normal diet.
Source of Energy
African Breadfruit is an excellent source of energy. One cup of breadfruit provides 60 grams of carbohydrates, the primary source of energy in the body. It is very beneficial for athletes and gym goers as a pre or post workout meal.
The fibre in breadfruit ensures proper functioning of the bowel and intestines. It flushes out toxins from the intestine and prevent digestion related disorders like heartburn, acidity, ulcer and gastritis. Breadfruit protects the colon’s mucous membrane by warding off cancer-causing chemicals from the colon.
Nourishes the skin
Breadfruit has the ability to rejuvenate and tone the skin. The high amount of Vitamin C in breadfruit helps in the production of collagen, a protein which provides elasticity to the skin. Also recent studies have established that antioxidants present in breadfruit are good for preventing skin infections and rashes.
Hair Care and Growth
The omega 3 and 6 fatty acids present in breadfruit naturally conditions the hair, thereby reducing hair breakage. The fatty acids present in breadfruit regulate the sebum production in the scalp, reducing dandruff and itchiness. It also inhibits scalp inflammation and cell death, preventing hair loss.
The moderate amounts of iron in breadfruit improve blood circulation in the scalp, stimulating the hair follicles to promote hair growth
Anti microbial properties
African breadfruit seeds are rich in flavonoids, polyphenols, cardiac glucoside, Saponins and authraquinones which are known to have antimicrobial properties. (Sofowora, 1980).
Breadfruit contains good amounts of antioxidants, which help the body to develop resistance against infectious agents. It also scavenges harmful free radicals from the body that lead to aging and other age-related diseases.
Please Note: African breadfruit (ukwa) has the ability to produce gas in the stomach which is called flatulence. One needs to be mindful of how, where and when to eat it . Also the high moisture and fat content of this fruit makes it highly perishable.
WHO Expert Committee, author. Diabetes Mellitus, 2nd Rep. Geneva: World Health Organization; 1980. p. 646. (Technical Report Series)