Oha leaf is a popular cooking ingredient in the Southeastern part of Nigeria. Botanically known as Pterocarpus mildraedii, and called African Rosewood in English. Oha leaf is often used in the preparation of soups and other delicacies. Besides the flavour it adds to foods, oha leaf is also used because it has some medicinal or health benefits. This article discusses the nutritional and health benefits of oha leaves.
Oha (ora) leaves are used to prepare one of the most delicious soups in Nigeria, known as oha soup. It can be prepared with cocoyam or achi, palm kernel oil, uziza leaves, and chicken.
Nutritional Value of Oha Leaves
As a vegetable, one can already tell that that it contains a lot of nutrients which that are beneficial to the body. Some of the nutrients it contains include calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, antioxidants, fibre, Vitamins B and C, and lots more. All of the nutrients mentioned above benefit the body in so many ways.
Health Benefits of Oha Leaves
Now, we would be looking at some of the health benefits of oha leaf, for you to understand how using the leaf in your cooking benefits your body.
1. Boosts Production of Red Blood Cells
Oha leaf is rich in iron, which facilitates the production of haemoglobin, the stuff that produces red blood cells. People lacking haemoglobin are said to be suffering from Anaemia. Including oha leaf in your diet would boost the production of red blood cells and help treat the deficiency you are suffering from.
2. Promotes Good Digestion
Including oha leaf in your cooking can help facilitate better digestion as it would make the whole digestion process easier, due to its fibre content. Fibre makes it easier to digest food, thereby preventing constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, and other digestion problems. It also promotes a healthy gut, preventing colon cancer. If you are someone who suffers from constipation regularly, making use of oha leaf in your cooking would do your guts a lot of good.
3. Good For Your Bones
Eating oha leaf also benefits your bones as well. This is because it contains calcium and magnesium, two nutrients that are needed for the development of strong, healthy bones. This makes it very good for those suffering from osteoporosis, especially women.
4. Regulates Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, or hypertension, often results in death. The bad thing about it is that it rarely gives any symptoms, meaning the death comes suddenly. That is why you are advised to go for a checkup frequently. If the result of a check-up shows that you have high blood pressure, you can make changes to your diet. One of the things you can add is oha leaf, because it is rich in potassium and magnesium, two nutrients that help reduce blood pressure by relaxing the blood vessels.
5. Helps In Treating Diarrhoea
Oha leaf is rich in zinc, which is very useful in the treatment of diarrhoea. This is because it helps repair and protects the intestinal mucosa, which would help you recover from the diarrhoea properly.
6. Keeps Your Joints Healthy
Another health benefit of oha leaf is that it keeps your joints healthy, which reduces the pains that comes with arthritis. This is because it contains manganese, a mineral that keeps the joints well lubricated and also helps in the formation of cartilage around the joints.
7. Good for Diabetes Patients
Another one of the amazing health benefits of oha soup is that it is good to diabetics. Oha leaves have a low glycemic index, and regulates the blood glucose levels. It will prevent the accumulation of calorie in the blood that can increase the blood glucose level.
8. Boosts the Immune System
Oha leaves contain essential vitamins and nutrients the can immensely boost your immune system. The leaf contains phytochemicals, and antioxidants that strengthen the immune system to fight off diseases and infections. A 2015 study found out that extracts of oha leaves significantly increased the immune system of extracts-treated rats.
9. Boost Liver and Kidney Health
The leaves have also been said to have positive health effects on the liver and kidneys. One study investigated the effect of partially purified sub-fractions of Pterocarpus mildbraedii extract on carbon tetrachloride intoxicated rats. The study showed that the sub-fractions restored the damaged hepatic-architecture in the rats. What this simply means is that oha leaves may be useful in preventing or treating liver damage. Two other medical studies have also attested to the positive health effects of oha leaves on the liver.
While another study also recorded positive results of oha leave extracts on the kidneys of rats.
10. Prevents Cancer
Oha leaves have powerful antioxidants and numerous healthy phytonutrients, which may be useful in preventing cancer. One study on the phytochemicals compostion of oha leaves found out that it contained flavonoids, saponins, alkaloids, tannins. These phytochemicals can destroy free radicals, and fight cancer.
Oha leaf is a healthy leafy vegetable with numerous medicinal properties. These health benefits of oha leaves means that you should use it more when preparing your soups. Or better still, prepare and eat oha soup as often as you can.
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