Four Popular Nigerian soups and their Health impact
Nigerian foods are known for their highly intense aromas and spicy flavors. As you probably know, lots of Nigerian cuisines tend to contain a large proportion of lean meats, vegetables, and whole meats, and these ingredients contain some healthy nutrients for the human body. Little wonder why even non-Nigerians are becoming obsessed with Nigerian dishes. Of course, they are tasty and also offer ample health benefits.
Edikang Ikong, alternatively referred to as vegetable soup, is a traditional Nigerian soup that is full of fresh vegetables. This soup is native to the Efiks who can be found in Akwa Ibom and Cross River states of the country. The soup is made primarily of pumpkin, tomatoes, and onions.
Regularly consuming fresh vegetables such as those found in Edikang Ikong, it can also reduce the risk of stroke, certain cancers, and digestive system problems.
Egusi is a popular West African dish that takes its name from the seeds of plants like melons, gourds, and squash. After these seeds are dried and grounded, they become a major ingredient for making Egusi soup. The soup is usually eaten with pounded yam though it can be eaten with other swallows.
Some of the health benefits of Egusi soup include:
- Skin Improvement as it contains antioxidant properties that help to fight aging and slows down the aging process.
- Appetite improvement.
- Aids digestion—bowel movement is made more comfortable after eating a sumptuous meal of Egusi soup.
- Prevention of malnutrition as Egusi soup keeps you nourished due to the different ingredients used in preparing it.
- Maintaining good heart condition—Egusi contains unsaturated fat that is good for the heart. This helps significantly in reducing the risk of heart diseases by ensuring blood cholesterol levels are balanced.
This soup is a delicious food in Nigeria and other parts of Africa. It is prepared with okra—palm oil, goat meat, fish, shrimps, and African spices all simmered to mouthwatering perfection.
Okro has many health benefits such as: supporting improvement in coronary and cardiovascular heart diseases and even some types of cancer. Okro also helps in improving eyesight and is a highly nutritious source of protein. It also contains several minerals and vitamins as well as dietary fiber.
Ogbono, which is the Igbo name for bush mango seeds, is also called apon in Yoruba (South-West Nigeria). It is known to be a very rich source of iron, protein, ascorbic acid, vitamin C, magnesium, calcium, amino acids, sodium, and phosphorus.
Ogbono is known to help lower cholesterol and increase gastrointestinal activities.
Five benefits of maintaining a balanced diet
A healthful diet typically includes nutrient-dense foods from all major food groups, including lean proteins, whole grains, healthy fats, and fruits and vegetables of many colours. Healthful eating also means replacing foods that contain trans fats, added salt, and sugar with more nutritious options.
- It helps manage a healthy weight
You know the two critical ingredients for weight loss: diet and exercise. However, it was argued that weight loss is 75 per cent diet and only 25 per cent exercise.
An analysis of 700 separate weight loss studies found that people experience the most significant results when eating well. On average, dieting without exercise amounts to 23 pounds lost over 15 weeks. On the other hand, exercising without dieting results in six pounds lost after 21 weeks. Of course, this doesn’t discount the value of exercise—you need both to be as healthy as possible.
- Help support a robust immune system
You rely on your immunity to defend against bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other foreign invaders. However, poor nutrition starves your immune system of the proper vitamins and minerals it needs to produce antibodies. If you focus on eating well, you are less likely to become sick. Especially with times like this with Covid 19 still very much around.
- Increase your energy level
The whole purpose of eating is to derive energy from your food. “Empty calories” found in soda, processed snacks, and other junk food may fill your stomach, but they fail to provide high-quality energy.
For that, you need complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and protein. Also, if you have unexplained fatigue, try increasing your iron intake with seafood, poultry, dark leafy greens, and peas. Your body also absorbs iron better if you eat it with vitamin C, which is found in broccoli, peppers, oranges, and tomatoes.
- Helps you live longer
Although not an official cause of death, being overweight is a leading precursor of premature death in the US. According to research, 18 per cent of all deaths can be attributed to poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle. If you want to live a long life with fewer health complications, focus on eating better.
- It improves your mental health and well being
Your body isn’t the only thing that benefits when you eat a balanced diet; your mental health also improves! You may routinely reach for junk food when you’re feeling down, but what you need to boost your spirits is a diet full of vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and complex carbohydrates. A recent study found that eating more fruits, vegetables, legumes, beans, nuts, whole grains, fish, and olive oil reduced symptoms of depression among participants, which lasted for six months after the experiment.
ARE YOU EATING HEALTHY?
Eating a healthy diet is not about strict limitations, staying unrealistically thin, or depriving yourself of the foods you love. Rather, it’s about feeling great, having more energy, improving your health, and boosting your mood.
Healthy eating doesn’t have to be overly complicated. If you feel overwhelmed by all the conflicting nutrition and diet advice out there, you’re not alone. It seems that for every expert who tells you a certain food is good for you, you’ll find another saying exactly the opposite. The truth is that while some specific foods or nutrients have been shown to have a beneficial effect on mood, it’s your overall dietary pattern that is most important.
The cornerstone of a healthy diet should be to replace processed food with real food whenever possible. Eating food that is as close as possible to the way nature made it can make a huge difference to the way you think, look, and feel.
The Fundamentals of Healthy Eating
While some extreme diets may suggest otherwise, we all need a balance of protein, fat, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals in our diets to sustain a healthy body. You don’t need to eliminate certain categories of food from your diet, but rather select the healthiest options from each category.
Protein gives you the energy to get up and go—and keep going—while also supporting mood and cognitive function. Too much protein can be harmful to people with kidney disease, but the latest research suggests that many of us need more high-quality protein, especially as we age.
Not all fat is the same. While bad fats can wreck your diet and increase your risk of certain diseases, good fats protect your brain and heart. In fact, healthy fats—such as omega-3s—are vital to your physical and emotional health. Including more healthy fat in your diet can help improve your mood, boost your well-being, and even trim your waistline.
Eating foods high in dietary fiber (grains, fruit, vegetables, nuts, and beans) can help you stay regular and lower your risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. It can also improve your skin and even help you to lose weight.
As well as leading to osteoporosis, not getting enough calcium in your diet can also contribute to anxiety, depression, and sleep difficulties. Whatever your age or gender, it’s vital to include calcium-rich foods in your diet, limit those that deplete calcium, and get enough magnesium and vitamins D and K to help calcium do its job.
Carbohydrates are one of your body’s main sources of energy. But most should come from complex, unrefined carbs (vegetables, whole grains, fruit) rather than sugars and refined carbs. Cutting back on white bread, pastries, starches, and sugar can prevent rapid spikes in blood sugar, fluctuations in mood and energy, and a build-up of fat, especially around your waistline.