Palm wine is a sweet, effervescent alcoholic beverage. The Igbo community refers to it as Nkwu ocha or Nkwu elu. The Hausas call it Bammi, known in Yoruba land as Emu.
Trees like date palms, coconut palms, and palmyra produce the sap of palm wine. However, the ones tapped from raffia and oil palms are called natural wines and are more esteemed. The other trees are considered impure.
The sap is extracted and collected by highly developed tapping techniques. A container is fastened to the flower stump of the palm tree to collect the sap.
The initial milky liquid flowing from the flower stump tends to be very sweet and non-alcoholic before fermentation. Its fermentation starts as soon as the sap flows into the pitcher. It collects the natural yeast in the air.
Palm wine is often seen in traditional gatherings like cultural festivals, burial ceremonies, and weddings. Palm wine is one of the most well-known drinks in the world, primarily because of its sweetness.
- Amino acids
- vitamins A, B, C, and E.
Health Benefits of Palm wine
Owing to its natural state, palm wine is unarguably one of the best drinks beneficial to health. This sweet milky aromatic wine encapsulates so many health benefits:
- It is effective in treating a range of illnesses. These include malaria, diarrhoea, and dysentery.
- Due to the content of iron and vitamin B complex, it helps nourish the skin. It repairs body tissues and also helps in the development of healthy cells.
- It is suitable for maintaining a clear vision. Yeast, a component of palm wine, reduces pressure in the eyes and improves the ability to see distant objects.
- Palm wine is said to increase the production of milk for lactating mothers. However, take preventive measures before consumption.
- Palm wine contains Riboflavin, also known as Vitamin B2, an essential antioxidant that helps combat cancer.
- It reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases because of the presence of potassium. Moderate palm wine consumption contributes to curbing hypertension and keeping the heart in good condition—research conducted by two scholars, Linberg and Ezra, in 2008 further buttresses this.
Just like everything taken in excess, Palm wine has a negative effect.
Excessive consumption of palm wine has adverse effects on the liver. This is because the alcohol(ethanol) content is detoxified in the liver and can affect its function and lipid metabolism, resulting in liver damage.
Also, the high intake because of the alcohol content can be intoxicating, putting you at risk of abnormal behaviors.
If Palm wine must be consumed for its health benefits, consider the freshness, and you may need to boycott it after fermentation. Fermentation is more like allowing food to spoil and consuming afterward.
As regards contamination, most tappers dilute with water after tapping, and one can never vouch for the total purity of the water.
Also, if the gourds are not adequately washed, palm wine may get contaminated by the trapped microorganisms.
Furthermore, if you are looking towards conception, you may want to desist from its intake as it has been found to cause a decrease in testosterone level and sperm count.
It is also great you know that preservatives and additives like sweeteners take the palm wine of its natural state and can be detrimental to health. The sugars it contains, in the form of glucose, fructose, and sucrose, make it high in calories and, therefore, should be taken moderately.
The alcohol content in palm wine
A freshly tapped palm wine contains an alcohol range of 1.5 to 2.1 percent but goes as high as 3-5 percent in 24 hours and even more after 24 hours.
The longer it stays in fermentation, the higher the alcohol strength. The fungi in the air, or yeast, contribute to this.
Is Palm wine safe for you and your baby?
Alcohol intake during pregnancy is associated with many pregnancy dysfunctions like preterm delivery and stillbirth. It can also result in abnormalities in the child if born.
So, the answer is No!
In early pregnancy, alcohol can induce miscarriage. Given your delicate condition, staying off palm wine intake and any alcohol-based drink is advised throughout your pregnancy trimesters until you have safely put to bed.
Also, given its sugar content, you and your baby will be exposed to high glucose levels, which will harm your health and your baby’s.