Sunday, 11 January 2015

Health Benefits of Velvet Tamarind

Velvet Tamarind
Health Benefits of Velvet Tamarind
1. Treats Ulcer and Prevents Hypertension
2. Malaria
3. Improves Oral hygiene and cures Tooth ache
4. Anti-inflammatory and Anti-microbial Properties
5. Jaundice and Diabetes Management
6. Reliefs Menstrual Cramp and stops Diarrhoea
7. Hemorrhoids (pile)
8. Treats Scurvy and Wounds
9. Improves lactation and checks genital infections
10. Velvet Tamarind increases the Antioxidant Capacity of the body

Velvet tamarind (dialium guineense) commonly known as ‘icheku’in igbo, ‘awin’ in yoruba and ‘tsamiyar- kurm’ in hausa is a woody plant that occurs in the rain forest region of west Africa. It has smooth grayish bark, dark green glossy leaves and whitish flowers which bears densely velvet black fruit that are less circular and flattened.
The pulp of the fruit is edible and sweet, rich in vitamin C, sodium, iron, magnesium and potassium. It is used as flavor in snacks and non alcoholic beverages

Health Benefits of Velvet Tamarind

Different parts of velvet tamarind plant have been scientifically proven to offer a wide range of health benefits, some of them are explained below:

1. Treats Ulcer and Prevents Hypertension

The leave extract of velvet tamarind has the ability to increase gastric mucus secretion. Therefore, a decoction of the leave can be a remedy for gastric ulcer. The leaves are also highly diuretic-promotes the production of urine, making it easier for the heart to pump blood hence, reducing the risk of hypertension.

2. Malaria

According to research, the leave extract inhibits the growth of plasmodium falciparum which causes malaria therefore; taking a decoction can cure malaria.

3. Improves Oral hygiene and cures Tooth ache

The stem used as chewing stick (indigenous tooth brush) contains saponin which adds cleaning effect to the teeth and at the same time removes plaques and caries on the teeth of users. The stem bark decoction is also used to treat tooth ache.

4. Anti-inflammatory and Anti-microbial Properties

The fruit pulp contains abundant vitamin C which fights against microbial infections. The stem bark has the ability to reduce inflammation in bronchial tubes that arises due to bronchitis.

5. Jaundice and Diabetes Management

A decoction of velvet tamarind leaves is used in preparing medicinal solution for curing jaundice. It also lowers blood sugar and increases insulin sensitivity hence, can be used to treat diabetes.

6. Reliefs Menstrual Cramp and stops Diarrhoea

The stem bark extract has significant analgesic property hence, can be used to reduce menstrual pain. You can take it along with papaya leaf, salt and water to work effectively. It can also stop diarrhoea.

7. Hemorrhoids (pile)

Piles are swollen veins in the anal canal caused by too much pressure in the pelvic and rectal areas and while not life threatening, these veins can be very painful. A study performed on ethanolic leaves extract of velvet tamarind showed it to be beneficial for pile treatment.

8. Treats Scurvy and Wounds

The fruit pulp has high ascorbic acid content which is an anti-scurvy vitamin hence used as food supplement. Tender leaves of velvet tamarind, when squeezed and applied on wounds, stimulates the growth of healthy skin and protects the wounds against germs and moisture.

9. Improves lactation and checks genital infections

A review of several studies has concluded that chewing the fruit pulp increase secretion of milk as well as check infections.

10. Velvet Tamarind increases the Antioxidant Capacity of the body

Oxidative damage which involves free radicals - highly reactive molecules with unpaired electrons, is believed to be one of the mechanisms behind ageing and many diseases. The abundance of antioxidants in the leaves helps protect the human body from damage caused by these free radicals when taken.

Source: Wikinut

Yam-Nutritional benefits

First of all, Yams are not same as Sweet Potatoes! They are classified as root vegetables and they represent the main source of dietary carbohydrate in most of West Africa.

Yams come in different varieties; their variations stemming from their starch, water and fibre contents. Some degree of variation is also dictated by the region in which the yam is cultivated.

The different species of yams have a peculiar appearance by which they can be identified. These variations also determine how best to prepare and cook them.

Nutritional Benefits: Yams are rich in nutrients that help to protect the body and are hence considered to be one of the healthiest foods for human consumption.

They are a good source of vitamin C (though most of this reside near the skin). A medium-size yam provides 1/3 of the vitamin C recommended daily for an average adult.

Yams supply potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, and large amounts of vitamin B6, folic acid and other B vitamins. They also contain small amounts of vegetable protein are low in sodium, virtually fat free and easy to digest.

Food facts: Yams have a low-medium glycaemic index, high in dietary fibre and a source of slow release energy. They also contain a unique substance that is used as a starting material for the synthesis of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone.

Common uses: Yams can be boiled, roasted/baked or fried like their European equivalent - potatoes. They can also be dried and milled into flour.

Cooking Yams: Leaving skin on yams during cooking is an excellent way to conserve their nutrients, but yams must be thoroughly washed to remove all traces of soil. If yams are to be peeled before cooking, keep peelings as thin as possible, since some of the yam's nutrients are found close to the skin.

Storing Yams: Store yams in a cool, dry, dark place that is well ventilated. Under these conditions yams will keep well for several weeks. Warmer temperatures can encourage sprouting and shrivelling. Sprouting yams can still be used. Simply peel to remove sprouts completely before cooking. Some varieties of yams can be peeled, sliced and refrigerated/frozen but will only then be ideal for boiling afterwards. Freezing some yam varieties may cause them to darken and develop an odd bitter taste.

The most popular yam recipe among West Africans is pounded yam or yam foofoo, which is made by peeling, boiling and then pounding into a dough using traditional mortar and pestle. This is usually served with vegetable soups and stews.

Yams can also be stewed, grated and deep fried or added to complement soup or snack recipes.

There is much more you can do with yams. For instance you can make a variety of light meals and snacks that can be enjoyed for relaxation with friends and family.

Tip: Older, drier yams have a much more sweet and creamy taste and texture; perfect for pounding, boiling or stewing. Soaking them in some fresh clean water for about 20 minutes before cooking increases their moisture content and enhance texture.

Nutritional Data (Based on 100g of boiled yam)
Calories: 136.3kcal
Dietary fibre: 3.9g
Carbohydrates: 29g
Protein: 1.7g
Fat: 0.2g
Vitamins: B1 B6, C
Minerals: Potassium, Managanese

Source: Funke Koleosho  blog

African Giant Snails

African Giant Snails
Snail is the general term used to reference the shelled, slimy creature commonly found in back gardens, yards, farm lands and the rain forests. Though there are quite a number of varieties, the land snail is the most familiar to man, used for food and in cosmetics.

Snails come in different sizes depending on their geographical location. Those found in Europe are smaller while those typically found in West Africa are much larger, growing up to about 20cm in length. Their shell is a variegated shade of brown/dark brown with a fleshy muscular body having similar colours or sometimes dark grey and black.

In Nigeria, snails are a delicacy enjoyed particularly by the people in the southern western regions where they are typically cooked and served in stews or soups, or fried and eaten as snacks, canap├ęs or starter.

Nutritional Profile (based on 100g of snail flesh/meat) 
Calorie - 105.1kcal
Protein - 20.5g
Carbohydrate  - 0g
Fat - 1.3g
Fibre - 3.8g

Vitamins: A, B6, B12, K and folate.

Minerals: High levels of Magnesium, Calcium, Phosphorus, Potassium. Also contains significant levels of Iron. Other minerals include Manganese, Copper, Sulphur and Sodium

A Healthy Source of Food?
Snail meat has very high levels of protein, higher, in fact, than beef, chicken or rabbit according to research. It is also low in fat (containing mainly polyunsaturated fatty acid) compared to these other meats and has negligible amount of cholesterol.

Snail meat contains the amino acids arginine and lysine at higher levels than in whole eggs! It also contains healthy essential fatty acids such as linoleic and linolenic acids, required for normal tissue development and maintenance. The high-protein, low-fat content of snail meat makes it a healthy alternative food/meat compared with chicken, beef and rabbit meat.

According to another report, the significantly high levels of iron in snail meat  is believed, contributes to the fight against iron deficiency anaemia," (Nutritional benefits of the African Giant Snail - read it here...

Other uses

Largely in some parts of the world, snails are regarded as pests which can cause serious damage to agricultural produce, so, in these areas, great efforts are made to get rid of them and keep them under control. In other parts of the world (example Japan) snail slime is used in facial treatment to erase wrinkles!

The slime has a powerful mix of antioxidants, hyaluronic acid and proteins, all of which help the skin to retain moisture, soothe any inflammations and even act as an exfoliant for dead skin cells. Specially bred snails are used in this treatment.

This slime is also extracted and made into a cosmetic gel /cream which is applied to the face as a moisturiser.

In addition, snail slime contains unusual crystals of the commonly-occurring mineral, calcite which is being researched in the treatment of bone fractures and hip replacements.

Eating raw snails may pose the risk of ingesting a parasite which may cause meningitis-like symptoms, so they must be well bred and prepared before used for food. Touching or handling live snails do not pose this risk though. Simply follow regular hygiene precautions of washing hands, after handling them.

Source: Funke Koleosh blog

African Star Apple (agbalumo, udara)

The African star apple (or white star apple; botanical name chrysophyllum albidum), locally known as agbalumo, udara, is a West African origin exotic fruit with a tough leather-like, green to dark orange skin depending on the stage of ripeness.

When ripe, the fruit has a tender, sweet & tart tasting inner flesh which is also dark red/orange in colour again depending on stage of ripeness. The fruit also possesses a cluster of about 5 large seeds stuck together in the shape of a star. The seeds have a shiny hard brown casing which feels like plastic and are covered with a cream-ish white fibrous sweet membrane.

Agbalumo is a seasonal fruit and in Nigeria, you find them at every market in urban and rural towns particularity in the months of December to April when they are in season. Traditionally, the fruits are not harvested from the trees, but left to drop naturally to the ground before they are picked. They are rarely used in cooking but rather, when ripe, they are eaten raw as snacks.

The star apple tree secretes a whitish sap/latex which gives the pulp/flesh a chewing-gum like texture!


Nutritional Profile:
Star apples are a rich source of calcium, with each serving providing up to 10% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA). This fruit also contains good amounts of vitamins A and C (higher, in fact than levels found in oranges or guava). Star apples are also quite rich in iron (a mineral the body needs daily).

According to a report published by the African Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, the leaves of the star apple tree and to some extent the flesh of the fruit itself, possess some chemical nutrients which have similar properties to insulin found in the body, and believed to effectively reduce blood sugar levels. This property makes the leaves/fruits useful medically, for the treatment of type two diabetes though further research is being carried out.

Some other traditional uses/remedies of the star apples (including fruits, leaves and bark) include:

*Reduction of inflammation associated with laryngitis (sore throat) and pneumonia
*Treatment for hypertension & heart problems
*Antibacterial properties useful in the relief of tooth abscesses, intestinal/stomach upset, skin infection and diarrhoea.

Weight control:
Star apples are rich in dietary fibre. Eating up to 3-5 fruits can give a feeling of being full and keep dieters from over-eating and consequently controlling calorie/food intake thereby helping to control/manage weight.

Nutritional Data (100g of pulp/flesh only)
Calorie - 61 kcal
Carbohydrate of which sugars) - 11g
Protein - 2g
Fat - 0g
Fibre - 3g
Vitamins: - A, C
Minerals: - Iron, Calcium

Source: funke-koleosho blog