The health benefits of ukazi (afang) include the treatment of enlarged spleens, sore throats, and nausea. Ukazi also eases constipation and helps to control blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. The health benefits of ukazi are an attribute of their rich antioxidant, vitamin and mineral content.

Ukazi, botanically known as Gnetum africanum is a shade-loving plant that grows in dense equatorial forests. It is native to Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Gabon and Nigeria. Both the seeds and leaves of this plant are edible.

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.

Possible Health Benefits of Ukazi

Healthy heart

The fibre in ukazi can reduce bad (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol levels, thereby supporting heart health. Eating fibre regularly also lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease, and helps to slow the progression of heart disease in individuals who are already affected with it.

Ukazi is a great source of quality proteins since they provide the essential amino acids we need for growth and tissue repair. Replacing meat with ukazi as a source of protein can help to reduce the amount of saturated and trans fats in the diet. This can also help to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Ukazi is a good source of magnesium, a mineral that helps to decrease blood pressure.

Improved digestion & weight loss

Fibre keeps you fuller for longer and helps to reduce appetite, both of which can promote weight loss.  The high fibre content of afang also prevents constipation. Ukazi leaves have a laxative effect if you eat a large amount of it. Leaves older than 12 months have a greater laxative effect than those between 2-3 months of age.

Bone health

Ukazi is a rich source of calcium especially for people who are intolerant to dairy or those who eat a vegan diet. Calcium is important for bone and teeth health, especially for adults over the age of 50 who have a higher risk of developing osteoporosis.

Herbal medicine

In Nigeria, ukazi leaves are used to treat enlarged spleens, constipation and sore throats. It is also a means to relieve emotional distress. The plant is a remedy for nausea and an antidote for certain types of poisons in Congo. It is also a dressing for warts, haemorrhoids, and boils. Ukazi leaves are also used to brew teas that soothe labour pains, and to control blood sugar in diabetic patients.

Consider eating ukazi leaves regularly to enjoy its health benefits.

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Author

UK qualified PhD Scientist & Nutritionist with a passion for plant-based nutrition and wellness. Midas Naturals' goal is to provide quality health information that enhances and promotes the wellbeing of Nigerians & Africans.

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