Okazi Leaf Health Benefits And Its Effect On Pregnancy
Okazi leaf commonly called Wild spinach in English is a popular vine that grows in the South of Nigeria, it is scientifically called Gnetum africanum.
It is indigenous to Africa most especially Nigeria but you can also find it in the tropical rainforest of Cameroon, Gabon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Angola.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, it is known as Mfumbwa, Longongia, or Banvale depending on the local language.
In the Central African Republic, Angola, Gabon, Congo, and some parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo, it is called Koko, In Cameroon, it is called Okok/Eru.
In Nigeria, the Igbos call it Okazi leaf or Ukazi leaf, the people of Akwa-Ibom call it Afang leaf. These tribes use it to make soups, the Igbos make use of soup thickeners like Ofo, Achi, Ukpo, and cocoyam.
In the case of using Cocoyam to thicken the soup, it is usually referred to as Ofe-Owerri. Afang as a soup in Akwa Ibom is not complete without adding water leaves.
Nutritional value of Okazi leaf
Okazi leaves provide 44g of carbohydrates, 12.8 grams of protein, 37.8 grams of fiber, and 2.4g of fat per 100 gram of dry leaves. They also provide 249 mg of calcium, 39.mg of magnesium, 121mg of iron, and 0.8mg of zinc.
Okazi leaf is also a good source of aspartic acid, cysteine, proline, magnesium, iron, vitamins, sodium, calcium, zinc, potassium and so many more.
This leaf has a lot of health benefits, it can be used as a remedy for certain ailments
The Health Benefits Of Okazi Leaf
Improves the health of the heart
The leaves supply the heart with good cholesterol which in turn helps to reduce the bad cholesterol in the body thereby helping to prevent heart diseases. Okazi leaves also help to manage the blood pressure of the body preventing heart attack.
Improves Reproductive Health
This nutritious leaf helps to improve reproductive health by increasing blood flow to the sexual organs, this enhances ovulation, and penile erection and helps boosts Libido.
Improves weight loss
Okazi leaf has high dietary fiber content which aids weight loss and increases metabolism. It enhances digestion, acts as a laxative, and prevents constipation.
Cures sore throat
Okazi leaves are also used traditionally to cure sore throat.
Okazi leaves cure and heals common skin diseases such as eczema and rashes just by squeezing the leaves and applying the juice and paste on the affected parts.
Controls excess urination
Okazi seeds can be chewed raw for controlling excessive urination in kids and adults. It can also be used in the treatment of overactive bladders.
Okazi leaf has a good amount of iodine which is needed for the proper functioning of the thyroid gland and this iodine helps to prevent goiter.
Strengthens bones and teeth
Okazi is rich in iron and calcium which is very important in the development of strong and healthy bones. It also helps to prevent and fight against rheumatism and osteoporosis.
Okazi leaf also helps in preventing diseases as it has anti-bacterial and anti-parasite properties that are needed to cure malaria.
Treats enlarged spleen
The leaves of Okazi have shown medical efficiency in the treatment of enlarged spleen.
An antidote for poison
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, Okazi leaf is considered as an antidote to arrow poison made from Periploca nigrescens Afzel. It can also be used as an antidote to other types of poison.
It is a good source of vitamins that help to prevent scurvy.
Effects on pregnancy
Okazi leaf has not been reported to cause birth defects or miscarriage during pregnancy. Okazi prevents nausea (morning sickness) in the early stages of pregnancy. It also helps to reduce pain during childbirth if taken consistently during the pregnancy period.
Eating Okazi as a pregnant woman is very good. The stem if taken raw can help prevent menstrual cramps.
How to make Okazi soup
Okazi soup and Afang soup are similar, the major difference is the thickener that is added to Okazi soup to make it thicker and most people prefer to make Okazi as the only vegetable in the soup.
Ingredients for making Okazi soup
- 500g beef or assorted meat
- 100g Smoked fish
- 2 handful ground Achi or Ofor or Ukpo (Egusi/melon seeds can be used as a substitute)
- 2 tablespoonful ground crayfish
- Afang Leaves (okazi/okazi leaves)
- Stockfish (optional)
- seasoning cubes
- Shelled Periwinke (optional)
- Water leaves(optional)
- 500 ml Palm oil
- Pepper (fresh or ground)
Procedure for preparation
- Cook the assorted meat and stockfish, clean the dried fish, and set aside
-Grind the achi or egusi seeds (melon seeds), add some warm water to it, mix well, and set aside
-Slice the water leaves (if present) and Okazi leaves and set them aside. If you are making use of dried Okazi leaves, you can pound or blend them.
- Heat up the palm oil, add some chopped onion, fry a bit and then add the mixed egusi. Stir the mixture continuously until the egusi begins to bubble a bit.
- Now add some meat stock, mix thoroughly, cover, and leave to boil for 5 minutes (if achi is present among the ingredients, this is the time to add it). After 5 minutes, add the stock cube, pepper, and ground crayfish. Mix well and then add the cooked meat, stockfish, and dry fish. At this stage, you can add the periwinkles if present. Cover and leave to cook for 2 minutes.
- Next, add the Okazi leaves, allow to simmer for 5 minutes and then add the water leaves. Add salt to taste, simmer for another 2 minutes and your soup is ready.
- Okazi soup is usually served hot with Eba, Pounded Yam, Fufu, Wheat meal, Amala, Semo, Tuwo Masara, or any other type of Nigerian Bolus meal
Okazi Leaf Health Benefits And Its Effect On Pregnancy