Locust bean, commonly referred to as ‘iru’ by the Yorubas, ‘ogiri’ by the Igbos, and ‘dawa dawa’ by the Hausas, is a local seasoning or condiment used in soups and stews. It is a Nigerian staple and a very popular soup ingredient. Globally, it is referred to as African locust bean with the botanical name as Parkia biglobosa. There are many health benefits of locust beans and a number of them will be shared in this post.
The most valuable parts of the locust bean are high in lipid (29%), protein (35%), carbohydrate (16%), and is a good source of fat and calcium for rural dwellers. The seed is first cooked to get rid of the seed coat and then fermented to produce the desired result. When it is fermented, the Yoruba people have a way of getting two types from it, the mashed type and the loose or free type, and they are used for different types of soups, but for the same health and flavoring purposes.
Research conducted by local parties has shown that locust bean helps to promote good sight and drives away hypertension and diseases conditions like stroke and diabetes. It also contains tannins, astringent substances found in many plants. Foods rich in tannins are often recommended for treatment of diarrhoea.
Health Benefits of Locust Beans: Anti-oxidant Properties
Iru has a free radical reducing ability and is an antioxidant for detoxifying the body because the fruit has a remarkable amount of polyphenols that accounts greatly for its anti-oxidizing properties. The anti-oxidizing properties of the fruit extracts of iru are very similar to that of ascorbic acid.
Yoruba’s believe and have proven that locust beans can be used in the treatment of hypertension and are useful for boosting the immune system, especially in immunocompromised individuals.
The root, bark and leaves of the African locust beans can be infused, soaked and used for bathing by individuals suffering from skin infections.
Health Benefits of Locust Beans: Treatment of Respiratory Infections
It can be infused or soaked in liquid for treating respiratory infections such as pneumonia, bronchitis, cold, cough and fever.
Treatment of Gastrointestinal Disorders
Iru is also a rich source of tannins and as such both the seeds, roots, stems, barks, fruits, flowers and leaves can be used for treating gastrointestinal diseases such as diarrhoea and ulcer.
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