Nigerian vegetables and their health benefits…..types of green leafy vegetables in Nigeria.. List of vegetables in Nigeria.

Gone are the days when vegetables were only meant to be used in cooking soups alone. Vegetables have now become a spice for meals. It is now used in the preparation of varieties of meals such as Jollof rice, stews, salad, egg sauce, and many more Nigerian dishes.

This article entail vegetables commonly grown, sold and used in Nigeria, as well as their Health Benefits.

Read on:

11 Nigerian Vegetables and Their Health Benefits

1. Ugwu Leaf:

Botanically recognized as Telfairia occidentalis, and “Fluted Pumpkin” in English. It is a vegetable used commonly by the Southern and Eastern locals in Nigeria. This vegetable is never found wanting in an Igbo woman’s kitchen. The ugwu Leaf is rich in dietary fibre, Vitamins A, B2, C and K, Calcium, Iron, Copper, Potassium, Manganese, Zinc and Folic acid. Ugwu leaves also have antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that help prevent and treat ailments such as digestive issues, anaemia. Furthermore, these leaves help boost red blood cells production and help with weight loss and maintenance.

Nigerian vegetables and their health benefits
Nigerian vegetables and their health benefits….this is pumpkin leaf

2. Scent Leaf:

Botanically recognized as Ocimum gratissimum. In the Nigerian local dialects, the scent leaf is called Nchanwu in Igbo, Efirin in Yoruba, Daidoya in Hausa. Scent leaves are known for the aroma they give off in foods. It can be used in preparing pepersoups, stews, porridge and more. Scent leaves contain nutrients such as Calcium, Beta-carotene antioxidants, Iron, Phosphorous, and vitamins A, K and C. It mainly serves as a natural source for curing diseases and infections such as Diabetes, Bacterial infections, STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections), and Gastrointestinal ailments. Also, frequent intake of scent leaves can help reduce your cholesterol levels and improve your general health.

Scent leaf veg

3. Ewedu:

Botanically, it is referred to as Corchorus, and Jute leaves in English. As ugwu is to the Igbos, so is the ewedu leaf to the Yorubas. Ewedu is used in making a popular soup among the westerners in Nigeria known as Ewedu, commonly served with gbegiri and obe alata (stew). Known for its slimy nature, Ewedu contains vitamins A, C and E, and antioxidant properties. Ewedu helps with weight loss, firm lustrous skin, strong bones and teeth development, healthy bowel movement. It also helps protect the body from diseases, free radicals and cell damage, as well as boost immunity.

Ewedu leaf also known as jute leaf

4. Bitter leaves:

Botanically known as Vernonia amygdalina. It is referred to Onugbo in Igbo. It is a strong antioxidant, that contains numerous phytochemicals. Prominent for its bitter taste, bitter leaves can serve as a culinary herb, and can be used in treating diseases such as dysentery, piles and digestive or appetite problems. It can help reduce cholesterol levels, stop nausea, prevent cancer, increase breast milk production in nursing women.

Nigerian vegetables and their health benefits
Bitter leaf

5. Spinach:

Also known as African spinach or Green, it is botanically referred to as Amaranthus hybridus. It contains high quantities of dietary fiber, and is low quantities of fat. Also, nutrients such as Thiamine, Potassium, Calcium, Riboflavin, vitamins A, C and B6, Iron, Manganese, Zinc, Magnesium and Beta-carotene. It also contains antioxidant properties. The health benefits of spinach include immune system boost, anti-ulcer, digestion aid, healthy bone and proper brain functioning promotion, eyesight and metabolism improvement, maintenance of blood pressure, skin tone improvement and prevention of anaemia etc.

Spinach is one of the vegetable enjoyed in Nigeria and West Africa

6. Water leaves:

Known scientifically known as Talinum triangulare, water leaf is a popular vegetable leaf in Nigeria. It can be used in preparing several meals. You cannot talk about vegetable soup in Nigeria without this leaf. A concentrated qunatity of water and minerals can be found in water leaves. Health benefits of water leaves include: hypertension risk reduction, brain function boost, and weight loss promotion. In addition to the health benefits that can be derived from this leaf is the possession of medicinal properties like antimalarial, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties for treating malaria, bacterial infections and inflammations.

Water leaf is a popular veggie with health benefits

7. Curry leaves:

Also known as Lemon basil, curry leaves is one of the essentials when it comes to Nigerian cooking. I for one, frequently use curry leaves in making dishes particularly stews. Just like scent leaves, they give off inviting aroma and flavor in foods. Curry leaves can also be beneficial to health in several ways. Some of which include liver function boost, cancer prevention and inflammation reduction.

Curry leaf to spice our Nigerian jollof rice

8. Garden Egg Leaf:

Also known as Eggplant, garden egg leaf is referred to as Akwukwo Anyara in Igbo, Ganyen Gauta in Hausa and Efo Igbo in Yoruba. It can be used in making dishes, one of which is the popular continental Igbo dish- Abacha as garnishment. Garden egg leaves contain nutrients such as Vitamin B, C, Calcium, Potassium. These nutrients provide benefits to health which include: Kidney health improvement, promotion of fertility and weight loss, cancer and stomach ulcers prevention, heart beat and blood sugar levels regulation amongst others.

Garden egg leaf is a vegetable

9. Okazi leaf:

Also known as wild spinach in English, and botanically as Gnetum africanum. Okazi leaf is a major ingredient in the making of Afang soup, a popular delicacy by the Akwa Ibom people of South South Nigeria. Nutrients found in okazi leaf include: Copper, Zinc, Magnesium, Potassium, Sodium, Fiber, and Vitamins. Health benefits of Okazi leaf include: Reduction of blood sugar and blood pressure levels, strong bones and teeth development, weight loss, treatment of nausea, vomiting and more.

Nigerian vegetables and their benefits
Uziza leaf soup

10. Uziza leaf:

Botanically known as Piper guineese. Some of the nutrients that can be found in uziza leaf include Beta-caryophyllene, Piperine, Dietary fiber, Phenols, Flavonoids, Tannins, Peptides and Steroids. The uziza leaf can be used in treating infertility, gastrointestinal disorders, dysentery, gonorrhea, rheumatism. The use of this leaf can also help reduce cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels. It aids digestion, serves as apain reliever, helps with weight loss, etc.

Uziza vegetable

11. Bay Leaf:

Also known as the laurel, the bay leaf is used in seasoning and cookii offals, stews and meals in Nigeria. It is also known for its aromatic nature, and contains nutrients such as Vitamin A, C, B6, Iron, Calcium and manganese. The bay leaf can help reduce your risk of a type 11 diabetes, aid digestion and boost the immune system.

Veggies in Nigeria
Bayleaf is a popular veggie for jollof rice in Nigeria


Here you have it- 11 Nigerian vegetables and their health benefits. I hope you found this article interesting. Let us know in the comment section what you think of these vegetables, which you use and the common veggies at you side.

Stella-maris Achumba

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