African Breadfruit (Ukwa) is a very nutritious food commonly eaten in southeastern Nigeria primarily by the Igbos. It is also called afon in Yoruba; ize in Benin, Jekri and Sobo; izea in Ijaw; and ediang in Efik.
Breadfruit (Ukwa) is the seed of the African Breadfruit. Ukwa could be cooked with potash and just eaten like that or it could also be separated from the water for just the seeds to be mashed with some ingredients and thereafter served with the extract (water).
Scientifically known as Treculia africana, breadfruit is a highly sought after fruit due to its medicinal properties. It contains moderate levels of essential vitamins and minerals.
Fresh seeds contain 38.3% carbohydrate, 15.9% fat and 17.7% crude protein. It contains adequate levels of protein. 100 grams provide 7.4 grams of protein, approximately 23% of the recommended amount.
Readily available in many developing African countries, it can be an alternative to rice and yam. The seeds of Treculia africana can be ground to flour, pressed for oil and used as flavouring in alcoholic drinks. It is rich in riboflavin, iron, niacin, thiamin, iron and phosphorus.
It contains minerals like potassium, copper, iron, magnesium, calcium, zinc, manganese, selenium and phosphorus. It is low in saturated fats, cholesterol and sodium.
Despite the many health benefits of breadfruit, investigations revealed that the food is gradually phasing out of tables of many Nigerians even among the Igbos where the highly nutritious food was once a common meal for the family.
The small brown seeds have groundnut flavor when roasted and it is eaten whole or made into paste for sauce. At times it is made into refreshing drinks as well as making breadfruit cakes, snacks and cookies.
Health Benefits / Nutritional Values of Breadfruit
• Its pulp has more fiber, which makes it a good bulk laxative. Dietary fiber helps reduce blood cholesterol by preventing its absorption in the gut, reduce obesity, blood pressure and help protect the colon mucous membrane by warding off cancer-causing chemicals from the colon.
• It has small amounts of flavonoid anti-oxidants in the form of xanthin and luein.
• The fruit has moderate levels of essential vitamins, and minerals. Like other tropical delicacies, it is rich in many vital B-complex groups of vitamins. The fruit is a moderate source of vitamins, especially thiamin, pyridoxine, and niacin.
• The fresh fruit is an excellent source of potassium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that help regulate heart rate and blood pressure. Its pulp is good in copper, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus.
• Breadfruit seeds contain average levels of protein
• Regular consumption of this food makes skin healthy from both outside and inside Breadfruit prevents hair disorders such as dandruff effectively
• Breadfruit porridge is one of the diabetic healthy foods that is prepared and eaten to help control blood sugar level.
• The fruit as well as the leaves and latex of its tree work as a natural medicine for curing diseases like Diarrhea, Asthma, and Sciatica.
• The fiber present in breadfruit reduces absorption of glucose from the consumption of the food people eat. The fiber also flushes out toxins from the intestine and helps in proper functioning of the bowels and intestines.
• Dehusking of the African breadfruit seed increases the crude protein, oil, crude fibre and calorific value but decreases the moisture, ash and total carbohydrate. The obese should dehusk the seeds before eating in order not to aggravate the problem of obesity.
• The high content of calcium, magnesium, iron and low content of lead, copper, zinc and potassium in husked seed of African breadfruit indicates that it is better for children to eat husked seeds rather than dehusked seeds.
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