Ukazi Leaf, botanically known as “Gnetum Africanum” and commonly known as wild spinach is a medicinal herb, although can also be used in making soups and much more.
This leaf/herb is very versatile and provides tons of nutrients and vitamins that are essential and needed for the proper growth and development of your body.
However, this leaf has other native names related to it. You should also know that this leaf is mostly common in Nigeria, as it is being used today by many people in their dishes and so much more.
Some of its native names include;
1. Wild spinach is also known as ukazi leaf in the Igbo language.
2. It is also known as “Afang leaf” in the Ibibio Akwa Ibom people in Nigeria.
Other names include; Eru, Okok, Ukase, m’fumbua, or fumbua, African Jointfir, etc.
In this article, our major focus will be on the immense benefits of Gnetum africanum and also the facts associated with this herb.
However, as mentioned earlier the ukazi leaf is very versatile as it has so many applications.
It can be used as medicine due to its medicinal nature and can also be used in making delicious soups.
One of the popular native soups that can be prepared with ukazi leaf is the Afang soup or you can just say the ukazi soup.
Ofe Òkazì is another native soup that can be prepared with ukazi leaf. Although, during the preparation of the Ofe Òkazì soup, local soup thickeners like Achi, ukpo, or òfò, are added to give it a thick texture (not too thick).
You can find articles on local soup thickeners on this blog. However, each local soup thickener has its peculiar flavor.
Most people go ahead to garnish their ukazi soup with dry fish, ugu, and crayfish.
By doing so you’re increasing the nutrients of that soup making it very healthy and medicinal.
The ukazi leaf comes in two varieties, it can be gotten as either dry or fresh.
However, choosing the right one is of no use as both varieties are good for making soup. If using dry Ọkazị, add it early in your cooking so it will rehydrate and soften.
Ọkazị is called “Afang” in Efik or Ibibio and is used to prepare the Afang soup.
Wild spinach (ukazi leaf), has many important benefits and also an optimal nutritional value.
Nutritional Value of Wild Spinach
Per 100g of dry leaves, afang provides 44g of carbohydrates, 12.8g protein, 37.8g fibre, and 2.4g fat. They also provide 249mg calcium, 39mg magnesium, 121mg iron, and 0.8mg of zinc.
Wild spinach is tagged as a great source of vitamins and minerals, it is very abundant in minerals such as aspartic acid, fiber, cysteine, vitamins, sodium, magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, potassium, and copper and so many more.
Wild Spinach can also serve as a remedy for certain ailments due to its anti-oxidants and anticarcinogenic properties.
Health Benefits of Wild Spinach (Ukazi Leaf)
1. Development of Strong Bones
Ukazi leaf is abundant in calcium which helps in the development of healthy and strong bones, which in turn fights against osteoporosis.
2. Lowers Blood Pressure
Wild Spinach contains compounds that are capable of reducing the risk of getting high blood pressure.
3. Helps in Weight Loss
If you’re seeking to lose some weight then the Ukazi leaf can help with that, as it contains properties that play a major role in weight loss.
4. Helps Treat Constipation
Wild Spinach can help treat constipation due to its high fire content and also serve as a good laxative.
Ukazi leaf contains minerals that possess anti-inflammatory properties.
6. Produces Blood
Ukazi leaf also helps in boosting blood production in your body.
7. Good for Diabetic Patients
It also lowers blood sugar in diabetic patients.
8. Treats Sore Throat
Ukazi leaves, due to their healing properties have been used for years in treating sore throat. You can do more research on that.
9. Antidote for Poison
Wild Spinach (Ukazi/Afang) leaves can be used as an antidote for poison.
10. Curbs Vomiting
This herb can also be used in the treatment of nausea and vomiting.
11. Prevents Heart Diseases
Adding Ukazi leaf to your diet or eating it regularly, lowers the risk of heart disease and also helps in slowing down the progression of heart disease in patients suffering from cardiac diseases.
12. High Protein Content
Ukazi leaf is high in protein content, which in turn helps in repairing body tissues.
13. Promotes Fertility
If you seeking to boost your partner’s libido or penile erection, then you should consider trying out the Ukazi leaf as it promotes fertility by increasing the blood flow to sexual organs thereby boosting sexual desires and also ovulation in females.
Is Wild Spinach Safe for Pregnant Women?
The answer is yes, the ukazi leaf is very healthy and it is very good for pregnant women. Pregnant women can go ahead to eat meals prepared with ukazi.
One of the benefits of ukazi leaf to pregnant women is it helps in fighting against morning sickness such as vomiting during pregnancy.
Afang leaf has not been reported to cause birth defects, miscarriage, or pregnancy loss in women. Enjoy.
No cases of miscarriage have been reported from eating ukazi leaf during pregnancy. It is safe and healthy, tap into its benefits today by adding it to your dish/meal or eating it fresh regularly.