Health Benefits of Nigerian Fruits that you do not know
Nigeria, a buoyant land located in the very heart of Africa, is a mostly agrarian country with rich vegetation.
Like most countries, Nigeria has a number of local fruits found throughout the country, and a number of foreign fruits that has come to be as popular as the local Nigerian fruits.
In this article, we have put together a list of such fruits that you can find anywhere in the country, plus their health benefits.
The top 15 most popular fruit in Nigeria, in no particular order:
Health Benefits of Nigerian Fruits that you do not know
Is this the most popular Nigerian fruit? I’m not saying, but it is sure popular around the country.
I am yet to meet someone who doesn’t cherish the awesome taste of African star fruit or agbalumo (also known as udara).
The African star apple has an orange skin when ripe, a deep orange pulp and brown strong seeds.
If you know how to pick them at the fruit stall, this fruit can be delightfully tasty. But watch out for lava, though.
And about its nutritional benefits, agbalumo is rich in dietary fiber, calcium, vitamin C and Iron, and can be helpful in treatment of ailments like diarrhea.
It is low in caloric content and fat, and hence is great if you’re thinking weight loss.
2. Garden Egg
OK, now here’s another healthy Nigerian fruit served in virtually all traditional occasions like wedding and anniversary.
Known popularly as igba, garden egg (or eggplant) comes in several distinct varieties.
There’s the white specie and the darker, green types that are more common.
Some species of garden egg tend to be quite large while others appear rather thin.
But whichever specie you find, garden egg is great because it is a powerhouse of vital nutrients and vitamins.
Among the healthy nutrients contained in garden eggs are: dietary fiber, manganese, magnesium and potassium, aside from vitamin B.
It has a low caloric content, hence can be important for weight loss and balancing of blood sugar level.
Also, studies also indicate that garden egg is heart-friendly due to the properties it contains, and can help to improve the function of the nervous system.
This is unarguably one of the most popular and readily found fruits in Nigeria.
It is also great-tasting, but its nutritional benefits are by far impressive. Consider: watermelon is rich in B vitamins, an important energy source, potassium, magnesium, and is a powerful anti-oxidant.
But that is not all. Studies have linked watermelon with a reduction in high blood pressure and cancer risk.
Watermelon contains a substance known as lypocene, a carotenoid which is known to enhance cardiac (heart) function.
Furthermore, watermelon is also good for maintaining your kidney health and preventing macular degeneration.
The wonder of watermelon is also important in keeping the flame alive in your romance, as it can be an effective remedy against erectile dysfunction.
Of course, if you’ve eaten watermelon before, you know how much water it contains.
This is good for keeping you hydrated in place of water, especially in a warm country like Nigeria.
It is a far healthier alternative to soda and other flavored and caffeinated juice and energy drinks.
4. African Pear (Ube)
The African pear, also known as ube, is a very common snack across Nigeria.
A lot of folks prefer the African peer to coconut, which is usually eaten with roast or boiled corn.
But pear is still a delight, even if you decide to snack on it raw.
Aside from the smooth, oily taste of this fruit, it holds a number of nutritional benefits that not many of the folks who eat it are aware of.
For starters, ube is rich in healthy oil. It also contains vitamin D, ascorbic acid, folic acid, magnesium and calcium.
It is very good for women, especially during pregnancy.
It also has ingredients that can be helpful in treating certain skin conditions.
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5. Almond Fruit
When I was younger, I remember picking some almonds from the yard just across the road, until the owners got mad and put up a fence.
Almonds are quite delicious and nutritious, rich in fiber and great for weight loss as well.
Hey, hold on; I know a lot of Nigerians are thinking right now: what’s almond fruit?
That’s because almond is simply better known as fruit, perhaps for want of a more fitting local name for it.
Almond is a very common fruit across the country.
It has a yellow skin when ripe, and is rich in such essential nutrients as protein, vitamin E, magnesium, calcium and potassium.
Furthermore, it is helpful in lowering risk of cardiac arrest, and is a good source of healthy fats.
This makes it a ready weight loss fruit.
Papaya needs no introduction, so let’s just go on and consider some of its health benefits.
Some have described it as the most nutritional fruit on the planet, and I don’t know about that.
What I do know, however, is that every part of pawpaw fruit is immensely beneficial for one health reason or the other.
From the leaves to the back of pawpaw, to the delicious flesh and black seed within, you’ll find that pawpaw is loaded with incredible health benefits.
It makes no different whether the pawpaw is ripe or unripe.
Pawpaw is an all-weather nutritious fruit with plenty of health importance.
It contains active ingredients that can counter the effect of aging and give you younger looking skin for longer.
It acts as an emollient property that can actually soothe the skin, and is also a viable source of fiber and is helpful for improve digestion.
Furthermore, the skin of the pawpaw fruit can be a great treatment for surface wound and skin ulcers that are long in healing.
Another significant benefit of pawpaw is that it is good for balancing heart blood pressure, and can boost the body’s immune system.
It is a rich source of vitamins A (good for the eyesight, muscles, and nerves) and C (strengthens the immune system and assist in combating diseases), potassium, calcium and magnesium, as well as phosphorous, iron, and soluble vegetable fiber.
But that is not all about pawpaw.
This tropical delicacy is very good in treating diarrhea, due to its emollient action.
It is also used in treatment of conditions like stomach ulcer, asthma, malaria fever, diabetes, piles and impotence.
7. Pepper Fruit
As the name says, pepper fruits are quite spicy. They resemble groundnuts, except without the hard shells.
When unripe, like most fruits I know, pepper fruits are green.
And when ripe, they turn reddish or orange in color, with soft, juicy flesh.
But both are OK to crunch on, although the unripe ones are often more spicy.
Known by several local names (Mmimi in Igbo and Ata Igberi in Yoruba), pepper fruits contains some important health benefits that I’m sure you didn’t know about.
It is helpful in treatment and alleviation of certain symptoms like cold and nasal congestion, due to its spicy nature. Pepper fruits also contain properties that can be helpful in prevention of glaucoma.
Of course, it’s a healthy spice for burning off excess fat and checking blood sugar level, and is also good during pregnancy because it helps in uterine contraction.
As anyone knows, apple is one of the most important and well known fruits in Nigeria, although it is a foreign fruit introduced to us by the Europeans centuries ago.
Today, however, it has achieved a level of popularity among Nigerians that many of the local fruits haven’t attained.
At every grocery stores or shops along every bus stop, the first fruits you are likely to find are apples, when other fruits are missing.
So yes, apple is a Nigerian fruits and that is no controversy.
Now on to the health benefits: apple is rich in antioxidant properties, and other vitamins and nutrients essential for health and wellness.
It can be helpful in prevention of certain types of cancer, as well as stroke and heart diseases.
Furthermore, apples contain anti-aging ingredients that is incorporated into some beauty products today.
It can prevent skin wrinkling and enhance restoration of damaged skin cells. It is also good in lowering cholesterol levels, detoxifying the body and improving your lung health to enhance breathing.
This list would be incomplete if we didn’t make mention of bananas.
There are several varieties of bananas, and all are good to eat.
Generally, bananas are loaded with some important nutritional value that you are going to find interesting.
Did you know that bananas contain properties that can be helpful in calming the nerves and suppressing depression?
And that’s not all; bananas contain zero cholesterol and are good for your heart.
It is also rich in essential vitamins and fiber, magnesium and potassium, and can help to regulate blood pressure and lowers risk of conditions like stroke.
Although most of us haven’t eaten dates before, it takes nothing away from how popular this tropical fruits are across the country.
It doesn’t also diminish the fact that dates are highly nutritious fruits, good for sound health and body.
This plane, unassuming looking fruits is helpful in treatment of constipation and indigestion, intestinal disorders and maintaining a healthy heart.
They are also quite good for enhancing libido and treating diarrhea.
Furthermore, dates are helpful in treatment and prevention of certain types of cancer.
And one last thing; if you’re interested in topping pounds rather than shedding, eat dates as often as you want.
That’s right; because dates will help you if you want to gain some extra weight.
Guava, also very popular across the country, is a yellowish fruit with hard, pebble like tiny seeds.
It resembles lemon, and can be quite hard when unripe.
Guavas are important fruits with wholesome health benefits, hence have been used in production of some fruit juice.
Did you know that guavas are effective in treating male infertility? Now you do.
Also, these delicious fruits can be helpful in treatment of bleeding nose, gums and some internal hemorrhaging.
It can be applied on wounds topically to enhance rapid healing.
Also, guava contains active antimicrobial properties that can helps in treatment of dysentery.
It can also help to boost the body’s immunity, and prevention and treatment of certain conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, cataract and Alzheimer’s.
The presence of complex carbohydrates and dietary fibers in guava makes it an effective agent in balancing cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Guava has a high amount of roughage, zero cholesterol and is low in carbohydrates, which makes it a good weight loss remedy.
Studies have shown that guava is pretty effective in preventing cancer and even heart and skin diseases.
Not many folks have ever eaten jack fruits before, or would even dare to eat it for that matter.
However, it is one of the most nutritionally viable tropical fruits you can find around.
First off, and I think vegetarians are going to like this; jackfruits are a healthy alternative for meat.
They are rich in B-complex, vitamin B6, niacin, riboflavin, folic acid and potassium (good for lowering blood pressure).
Bananas are also good in treating ulcers and indigestion, and can be an active agent in the fight against cancer, due to the phytonutrients it contains.
Kids especially, love eating mangoes, and it beats me.
But maybe they know something that many nutritionists also know; that mangoes are a great source of essential nutrients such as iron, vitamins and fiber that are good for enhance body metabolism.
Also, mangoes contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as pectin, which is good for lowering blood cholesterol levels.
It helps prevent anemia and is very good for women during pregnancy, both for the mother and the fetus she is carrying
Another fruit that requires no formal introduction, oranges are a veritable source of vitamin C, a powerful anti-oxidant, and are helpful in boosting the immune system.
Oranges enhance blood circulation around the body, hence are good for your heart.
Studies have linked consumption of oranges to reduction of risk of heart disease.
They contain ingredients that can improve cell rejuvenation process in the body and enhance healing of damaged tissues.
Also, oranges help in lowering of your cholesterol and blood pressure levels, and can be helpful in prevention of breast and prostate cancer.
Furthermore, they contain potassium, which is an essential nutrient for the body.
Pineapple has a long-standing reputation as an anti-oxidant powerhouse.
It is helpful in elimination of free-radicals, substances that attack healthy cells, and strengthening of the body’s immune system.
Also, pineapples contain a high amount of thiamine (vitamin B1) which is important in energy producing enzymes.
They are also immensely good for maintaining your eye health, as studies have shown.
In the area of your bone health, also think pineapples; they contain iron and calcium, ingredients that are good for bones and gum strengthening.
This is important for you as you age over the years.
Also, pineapples can be helpful in preventing macular degeneration and relieving of symptoms associated with arthritis and rheumatism.
Of course, there are several other fruits native to Nigeria.
Perhaps you know a few that are not covered here in this short list.
But generally, eating fruits regularly will enhance your health and keep you fit, both in your mind and body.
As studies have shown, fruits are immensely beneficial for healthy living.
They contain vitamins and nutrients needed by our body in ways you may not know.
So whichever fruit is your favorite makes little difference.
Just ensure to eat fresh, properly washed fruits as often as you can.
Snack on them between meals, instead of stuffing your body with oily, unwholesome junk foods.
With fresh fruits, trust me, you can’t go wrong.
Did I miss any of your favourite fruits? Let me know by commenting below.