Spices are the secret ingredients that make Nigerian delicacies so nutritious and tasty. Some spices have been used as herbs in the prehistoric times while others were mainly used as a food seasoning.
Spices contain a lot of nutrients which offer a lot of health benefits. Most spices can be used for all Nigerian delicacies including soups and sauce.
Common Spices in Nigeria
In this post, we are going to look at the popular Nigerian spices & their health benefits.
Thyme is one of the most popular food seasonings. It is used in a wide range of foods, however, most applications are to spice meat, jollof rice, fried rice, stew, and soup.
Thyme is believed to offer many benefits other than spicing up food. It has anti-fungal and antibacterial properties that offer protection to the body.
It has been linked to the treatment of several respiratory problems such as seasonal allergies, whooping cough, and bronchitis. It is can also be used in the treatment of diarrhea, arthritis, sore throat, and stomach ache.
Curry is made with a blend of other spices and dried herbs. It is a popular spice used to season meat, fish, and chicken. Also, it is used in making fried rice and jollof rice.
Curry powder is believed to have medicinal value due to the number of nutrients it offers. It contains vitamins A, B, C, and E and minerals like phosphorus, iron, and calcium.
The spice could reduce your risk of developing cancer, improve heart health and reduce Alzheimer’s symptoms. It can also reduce blood cholesterol, lower blood sugar, improve bone health, and boost the body’s immunity.
Black pepper is one of the widely used spices in the world. It is believed to have originated from South India, however, it can be cultivated in Nigeria. In the past, it was used in Ayurvedic medicine due to its high concentration of beneficial plants compounds.
Today, it is mostly used as a spice, but still offers numerous health benefits due to the abundance of many beneficial nutrients.
Black pepper is high in antioxidants which protect the cells of the body. It contains a plant compound, piperine, which offers most the antioxidant properties.
Other benefits include
- Lowers blood sugar level
- Reduces the risk of developing some kinds of cancer
- Lowers cholesterol levels
- Improves brain function
- Fights and suppresses inflammation
- Promotes gut health
- Boosts absorption of nutrients
- Offers pain relief
Red peppers are the most popular kind of peppers. They are preferred over black peppers in the preparation of dishes like fried rice and jollof rice. Just like black peppers, they offer a lot of benefits. They contain a lot of vitamins and minerals which are important for proper body functioning.
Taking red peppers can improve your eye health due to the presence of vitamin A in the pepper. They are also packed with antioxidants, vitamin B6 and folate which prevents the cells of the body from damaging.
In Nigeria, this spice goes by many names. It can be called ehu, ehuru or ariwo, however, it is easily recognized as nutmeg in most parts of the country. Nutmeg is a sweet-smelling spice that adds flavor to meals. The sweet smell is due to some essential oils in the seed of the nutmeg.
Nutmeg is rich in a wide range of vitamins and minerals. It is one of the Nigerian spices with high nutritional and medicinal value.
Some of the nutrients you can get from this spice include calcium, iron, copper, zinc, manganese, magnesium, folic acid, niacin, riboflavin, and potassium.
It also contains some vitamins such as B-complex vitamins, vitamin C, and vitamin A.
Onions are mainly used to boost the taste of dishes like stew and soup. They are also used to enhance the taste of meat, chicken, and fish. Usually, onions are left out of some traditional soups as they do not mix well with these foods.
Onions are known to offer a lot of health benefits as they are packed with a lot of nutrients. These nutrients are mostly minerals and vitamins.
They contain an antioxidant Quercetin, which has potent anti-inflammatory properties and helps maintain the blood pressure. Onions contain 24 other antioxidants that offer different benefits to the body.
It offers other benefits like
- Controls blood sugar
- Boosts bone density
- Possess antibacterial properties that can fight potentially dangerous bacteria such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Bacillus cereus, Escherichia coli, and Staphylococcus aureus.
- Boost digestive health through the provision of fiber and prebiotics which are important for optimal gut health.
Ogiri Okpei is a food seasoning made from oils seeds such as castor oil seeds and egusi seeds. The seasoning has a strong pungent smell that might discourage some from using it as a food flavoring, however, it is one of the spices that make food really delicious. Also, it offers a lot of benefits due to the vitamins and minerals it contains.
Ogiri is believed to promote eye health, aid in digestion, and prevent stroke and hypertension. It also reduces blood sugar, improves digestion and aids in weight loss.
Scent leaves are a sweet-smelling herb that is used mainly for its aroma. The basil leaf is used in soup, stews, and in making suya spice.
Scent leaves are believed to offer a number of health benefits. They can be used in treating epilepsy, malaria, and fever. They also aid in weight loss.
Uziza Leaves are commonly used by the Igbo and Efik people in preparing soups. The sweet-smelling green herb adds flavor to soups and offers a lot of health benefits. It promotes digestions by treating gastrointestinal disorders.
Turmeric is quite popular among the Yoruba people. It is used to improve the taste of soups, stews, and marinades. Tumeric is believed to protect the body from diseases and infections by boosting the immune system.
Bay leaf is popularly used in making broth and stocks but they make a great ingredient for soups. They are loaded with many beneficial nutrients like iron, potassium, magnesium, manganese, and calcium.
They are also rich in vitamins A and C which promote eye health and normal body function.
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