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Food Musings: 13 Health Benefits Of Bitter Leaf

Editor’s note:   shares with us the benefit of bitter leaf, a leafy green that is known for it’s high iron content. It is used for soups and stews in Nigeria and has been hailed for its medicinal qualities. 
Bitter leaf as the name implies is a bitter leafy green or sometimes gray
vegetable known in Nigeria as onugbu by the Igbos, ewuro by the Yorubas and chusa-doki shawaka by the Hausas. Scientifically, it is called vernonia amygdalina and sometimes referred to as ironweed.
Bitter leaf offers many health benefits including but not limited to blood sugar regulation, helping with repair of the pancreas and may also help reduce the risk of breast cancer amongst other things. Nigeria is blessed to have bitter leaf growing any and everywhere. It is among the cheapest vegetables or herbs you can buy. As such, there is absolutely no reason not to incorporate it into your diet. Here is a quick run-down of thirteen major health benefits of adding bitter leaf to your diet.
‘Washing’ bitter leaf
1. May reduce the risk of breast cancer
2. Can reduce cholesterol which in turn helps reduce the risk factors associated with Stroke, Heart Attack and Alzheimer’s
3. Contains Antioxidants in abundance which helps to check oxidation thereby increasing the body’s disease fighting properties.
4. It aids digestion
5. Helps in maintaining the liver and kidney

Bitter leaf soup with eba
6. It helps to cleanse the body.
7. It increases metabolism which, along with other factors, helps in maintaining a healthy weight
8. Bitter leaf is a great source of essential fatty acids such as poly unsaturated fatty acids, linolenic and linoleic acid which helps protect against cardiovascular diseases.
9. It may help to eradicate pain.
10. It helps regulate the blood sugar thereby helping to reduce the risk of Type II diabetes.
11. It is a great source of Vitamin A, Vitamin B1 and B2, Vitamin C and Vitamin E.
12. May help relieve fevers.
13. Contains antibiotic and antifungal properties which helps cure skin ailments and diseases.
That should be enough reason to have you sprinting to the market for some bitter leaf right?
So whether you decide to chow it down fresh or in the form of bitter leaf juice and drinking up, or as a tonic which you store in your fridge and take tablespoons daily or the more popular way of cooking it and incorporating it into various recipes (which is more pleasing to the palate, we might add), you definitely can’t go wrong with bitter leaf in your diet. And while we are on the matter, here are interesting and delicious recipes containing bitter leaf that we think will make you mouth water!
Ifeyinwa Nzeka for
Ifeyinwa Nzeka is a Cordon Bleu trained chef, hospitality practitioner and blogger who is passionate about Nigerian food and cuisine.