About Nutrition and Health Benefits of Bitter Leaf
Bitter leaves are a healthy bitter vegetable that is majorly grown in the western and southern part of Nigeria. They are grown with the stem and are mainly planted during the raining season because they are known to grow well in the rainforest areas.
This vegetable is known as onugbu in Igbo, efo ewuro in Yoruba, shakwa shuwaka in Hausa and etidot in Cross River State of Nigeria; it is bitter in taste as the name implies but has numerous medicinal values which are highlighted below.
1. Bitter leaves contain flavonoids which have powerful antioxidant effects in treating several health issues together with other elements like andrographolide lactones, glucosides, diterpene which are present in the leaves and work together to treat and trim down fever and its symptoms.
2. They are commonly known to reduce the level of sugar in the blood and control blood pressure due to the bitterness. This is true because bitter leave has andrographolide content that contributes to sugar reduction in the blood and as reducing the risk of resulting diabetes.
3. They are eaten raw or mashed to get the juice which is used in treating abdominal difficulties such as diarrhoea, stomach upset and gastrointestinal tract diseases like dysentery and related other issues.
4. These leaves though bitter in taste contain essential vitamins such as vitamin A, B1, B2, C and E. Vitamin A helps in maintaining healthy bones and tissues; B1 plays important role in metabolic reaction while B2 contribute to the proper functioning of the nervous system.
5. Some other vitamins such E which serve as an antioxidant that fights against free radicals which have harmful effects on the body system; vitamin C is not left behind because it has a special role in the body which is the maintenance of bones and teeth as well as prevention of associated deficiency.
6. Presence of anti-cancer properties in bitter leaves makes it effective in preventing and management of hydatidiform mole, trophoblastic tumour and lung tumour which are the signs of cancer.
In fact, bitter leaves have versatile curative and medicinal properties which can treat and manage certain health conditions, on the other hand, they are especially known in Nigeria for culinary purposes; used in preparing Nigerian soup called Onugbu soup in Igbo land.
They are also used as for pharmaceutical purposes in medicines such as anti-helminths, laxative and fertility inducers. Bitter leaves itself; the roots and the plant, in general, are highly medicinal and serve certain nutritional benefits in the human body.