Nigeria is home to many indigenous herbs and leafy vegetables that are extremely tasty and nutritious. In the following article we are going to take a closer look at some of them. There are many different languages in Nigeria, so the following leafy vegetables and herbs have many different names, but to avoid any unnecessary confusion, we have decided to use the Igbo name for all of them, and have put the English translation in brackets.
Ugu (Fluted Pumpkin Leaves)
This is a leafy vegetable that Nigerians use for medicinal and culinary purposes. It is full of minerals such as potassium, magnesium, calcium, folic acid, and iron, which makes it really healthy. It is also a very good source of vitamin A, C, and K. Research has found that eating meals that have a lot of ugu leaves in it can help decrease your risk of cancer and diabetes, improve your white blood cell count, and decrease your cholesterol levels. Nigerians love to use it to make a variety of different soups.
Kerenkere (Jute Leaves)
In the West of Nigeria, this plant is used to make Ewedu soup. When it is ground up, it has a kind of slimy consistency like Okra. It is a very good source of fibre, high in vitamins, and low in calories. It is also used as a medicine to prevent dysentery and cure a parasite infestation and constipation.
Onugbu (Bitter Leaf)
This, as the English name implies, is a bitter plant and it is used to make the very popular and tasty Nigerian bitter leaf soup. There are several types of Onugbu - some have leafy, large, and deep green leaves, while others have smaller and broader leaves. Most of the bitterness is removed when the leaves are boiled, and they are rich in minerals and vitamins. Like most Nigerian leafy vegetables and herbs, it is also used in medicine. This particular leaf is used to treat malaria, dysentery, hepatitis, fevers, and a cough. Onugbu is said to decrease sugar levels in the body, which is great for those who suffer from diabetes.
Uziza Leaves (False Cubeb Leaves)
This leaf can be found in Nigerian supermarkets all over the country and the fact that it has a peppery taste is what makes it a great addition to a wide variety of soups and other dishes. This leaf is full of cancer-fighting antioxidants and also has plenty of preservative properties.