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NIGERIA COAT OF ARM

Culture advocate harps on consumption, promotion of indigenous foods

African star apple (Agbalumo or Udara)
Foods: African star apple (Agbalumo or Udara)

By Ikenna Osuoha

Ms May Ikokwu, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Save Our Heritage Initiative (SOHI), says eating local foods and fruits indigenous to Nigeria will enhance healthy living and preserve local culture.

She made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Tuesday.

Ikokwu said the consumption of indigenous foods and fruits would also promote national integration, apart from their nutritional values.

She added that “indigenous foods are mostly natural, with capacity to renew lives; unlike processed and foreign foods.”

Ikokwu stressed the need to eat more breadfruit, especially for the elderlies, and listed some of the advantages to include lowering of cholesterol, fighting infections, promoting youthful skin and healthy hair.

She noted that “breadfruit also contains a good amount of fiber that reduces the rate of glucose absorption; it is also a heart-friendly food with nutrients like potassium that regulates blood pressure and heart rate.”

The culture advocate also called on government to devise policies with private participation in planting it, noting that climate change, competition for farm lands with real estate and population increase were factors responsible for the scarcity of breadfruit and other crops.

She urged state and non-state actors to support mass planting of breadfruit.

Ikokwu also identified indigenous vegetables such as bitter leaf and ukazi as nutritional and rich in calcium.

She said “bitter leaf is good in reduction of sugar level, while ukazi is essential in calcium, especially for older persons.

“Also, eating African walnuts may improve brain health and prevent heart disease and cancer.

“African walnuts also reduces inflammation and high in Omega 3 and 6 fats.”

Similarly, Ikokwu called for the consumption of African Star Apple called udara in Igbo and agbalumo in Yoruba, saying that “the fruit is not only rich in vitamins but prevents anaemia.

“African star apple has the potential to reduce diabetes, with low calories and capable of improving weight loss.

“African star apple is sweeter when eaten with another natural sweetener, stevia.

“Stevia is an intensely sweet-tasting plant that has been used to sweeten beverages and make tea since the 16th century.” (NAN)