Pregnancy is always an exciting experience. It is filled with apprehension to get things right. You are more susceptible to illnesses now, so you should be wary of your consumption. What you ingest at that point contributes immensely to your wellness and your baby's development.
Some food items might not suit you during this time as they may harm the developing baby and cause many other complications during your pregnancy.
This article will focus on Ugba, its benefits, and its safety for pregnant women.
What is Ugba?
Ugba or Ukpaka is the local (Igbo) name for African oil bean, a Nigerian Indigenous food condiment. It is a nutrient-infused condiment common to Eastern Nigeria. The African oil bean is a tropical tree crop belonging to Leguminosae.
The most commonly used of the tree is the seed, which forms the ingredient or condiment for cooking. It is known as apara by the Yorubas, while the Efiks refer to it as ukana. The African oil bean seed is produced through boiling, dehulling, and fermentation to eradicate unwanted toxins.
Ugba is added to many dishes like porridge yam, okro soup, nkwobi, and abacha. It can also be prepared delicately and eaten with eggplants, dry fish, and kpomo. The African oil bean equally serves other non-culinary purposes.
Nutritional properties of ugba
Ugba is an excellent source of tannins, alkaloids, flavonoids, and other phytochemicals beneficial to health. It is also rich in energy, protein, copper, iron, zinc, potassium, calcium, and vitamins vital to health.
Health benefits of ugba
Some of the health benefits are as follows:
- Antibacterial and antimicrobial properties: Ugba contains saponins and alkaloids, two active antibacterial agents that fight off bacteria and microbes from the body.
- Reduces the likelihood of cataract: Cataract is characterized by a lot of eye dysfunction, blurry vision, and extreme sensitivity to light, amongst all others. Moderate intake of the African oil bean seed effectively reduces the risk of impaired vision.
- Helpful in reducing anemia: Consumption of Ugba helps to increase the hemoglobin level and stimulates the production of red blood cells, thereby reducing the chances of anemia.
- Maintains blood pressure: If your blood pressure is not well managed, there are leading risks of stroke, hypertension, and other heart-related diseases. Ugba contains low fat, just the right portion required for a healthy heart. The potassium content significantly removes excess sodium in the body to regulate blood pumping to the heart.
- Lowers the cholesterol level: When the cholesterol buildup in the body is above average, it may trigger many health challenges. The presence of the phytochemicals contributes to lowering the cholesterol level. The saponins increase the excretion of bile acid, thereby preventing the cholesterol from being absorbed in the intestine.
- Boosts fertility: Although no medical study has been carried out to prove this, African oil beans are used to prepare herbal medicines that people believe cure infertility issues.
Is ugba safe during pregnancy?
No medical research suggests that Ugba is harmful or unsafe for pregnancy. It has a protein content suitable for you and your baby. Protein is one of the three macronutrients the body needs in large quantities, and the crude protein found in ugba is about 20 amino acids which makes it great for development.
It is equally rich in essential vitamins and minerals, promoting general health. Although there are speculations that it induces uterine contractions, no study has surfaced to support this claim.
If you’re in the first trimester, considering the delicate stage, you may want to keep off from it to be safe. If you must consume it, ensure that it is adequately prepared.
Ugba contains a considerable amount of nutrients necessary for your development. However, take it in moderation to prevent certain reactions. To reduce some of the harmful alkaloids, experts advise that you cook and allow it to sit through the process of fermentation and also allow it to pass through the fire again before consuming.
Irrespective of the many health benefits and medicinal properties ugba encapsulates, they do not substitute for professional diagnosis and treatments. Therefore, endeavor to walk with your healthcare provider during your beautiful journey.
Stay safe as always mama.
Join Nigeria's largest pregnancy community, PreggClass. PreggClass is an online antenatal program that personalises your pregnancy journey. With live classes, practical sessions, and 24/7 medical supervision, your health is our priority. For more inquiries, contact us on WhatsApp!