Karkashi leaves are common in different parts of Nigeria. In the south west, it is called ewe atura; in the middle belt region, especially among the Tivs and Idoma, it is called Beni. However, the common name is Beni-seed leaves. The name Karkashi leaves is what it is called among the Hausas.
Its popularity can be attributed to the numerous nutritional benefits attached to its consumption and the health benefits derived from constantly consuming the leaves. Reports suggesting that it has antifungal properties and aids digestion may contribute to why people often eat it. Apart from the benefits derived from consuming Karkashi leaves in soup, called Miyan karkashi, it is also useful in improving the health of hair.
In this article, we will discuss the nutritional quality of karkashi leaves, how these nutrients can affect your health, and highlight the health benefits you can get from eating karkashi leaves regularly.
Nutritional Information of Karkashi Leaves
Karkashi leaves are commonly used for medicinal, culinary, and cosmetic purposes. Its use for the latter purposes does not in any way affect its use for the former as its medicinal properties are preserved even when subjected to heat and extraction of its juice, containing phytochemicals. The phytochemicals are probably responsible for the various medicinal properties attributed to it.
Also, nutrients such as vitamins and minerals, necessary for the normal functioning of the human body system, are present in Karkashi leaves. Some of the nutrients you will have access to when you regularly eat karkashi leaves include:
One of the most important nutrients attached to the functioning of the whole human body. It is necessary in the building of tissues such as muscles, and the formation of messengers in the body. Proteins are important for the human health in many ways, such as weight gain, loss, and management, repair of damaged tissue, among others.
Karkashi leaves contain about 18.33 g of protein per 100g of sample.
Fiber is another nutrient that helps in addressing weight issues due to its large surface area. It helps to fill the small intestine, giving its consumers the feeling of being full while eating less. Fiber also provides probiotics to the digestive system, making food material breakdown easier. It is, therefore, good for people suffering from constipation and other digestive-related issues.
Karkashi leaves contain about 4.10 g of fiber in 100 g of sample.
Related Article: 12 Best Fiber Foods in Nigeria
Although fats have a bad reputation among the public, it is an important nutrient that is needed by the body to produce new cells and body messengers. They are important in the transfer of impulses through the nerves. In essence, they are important in the functioning of the nervous system, and a little amount of them is enough, depending on the intensity of physical activity one does.
Karkashi leaves usually have about 1.30 g of fats in 100 g of sample.
This is the mineral that comes to mind when one thinks of stronger bones and teeth. However, it does more than strengthen these tissues. Although it is stored in bones and teeth, making them strong, it is also essential in the clotting of blood and regulation of some muscular actions.
The amount of calcium in karkashi leaves is 1.00 mg, and it can be categorized as one of the Nigerian foods rich in calcium.
Phosphorus helps the body to utilize calcium; therefore, without it, most of the calcium we consume may end up as waste, or causing problems in the body. Phosphorus also helps in the breakdown and utilization of carbohydrates and fats. Not to mention its role in the general respiration, that is, breakdown of food material, to provide energy.
Only 0.31 mg of phosphorus is found in karkashi leaves.
Karkashi leaves contain other minerals such as Zinc, Magnesium, Manganese, and Iron in the volume of 0.31, 1.53,1.294, and 30.778, respectively. Zinc is important in promoting sexual health and helping in aiding digestion. Magnesium and Manganese are important in regulating and controlling the relaxation and contraction of muscles in the body. Iron is an important part of the transport system, helping in the formation of red blood cells and active in the transportation and deposition of oxygen to the cells.
These nutrients contribute to the health benefits one can derive from consuming karkashi leaves. Also, karkashi leaves contain other materials, phytochemicals, that bestow it with the antimicrobial properties it possesses. They are Oxalates, Tannins, and Phytic acid.
Health Benefits of Karkashi Leaves
Of the numerous health benefits that have been reported in association with the regular consumption of Karkashi leaves and the possible health benefits one may derive from them due to the nutrients and phytochemicals they contain, here are some of the common ones.
As a leafy vegetable, one of the health benefits of karskashi leaves, is the help in managing weight. It achieves this due to its high fiber and moisture content. When you eat karkashi leaves, you are filled quickly, making you consume less calories, provides your gut with digestive enzymes, and facilitate easy digestion.
The moisture helps to move the food material along faster, and conserves the moisture in your tissues.
Improves cardiac health
Cardiac health depends on the percentage of good fat you consume on a regular basis, among other nutrients, such as omega 3, vitamins, and minerals, such as magnesium, manganese, and potassium. The cardiac system comprises of muscles who action has to be regulated and constantly in sync.
Karkashi leaves contain these nutrients and ensure that the muscles of the cardiac system, especially the heart, continue its pumping action, and reduce the possibility of palpitations.
Helps to improve muscle growth
For bodybuilders, the need for protein is paramount, among other things. The same applies for individuals looking to increase or maintain their body weight. The muscles need to be fed with nutrients consistently; one of which is moisture, to maintain rigidity.
Also, protein helps to repair muscle fibers that are torn during resistance training and increases their size, hence the growth.
Increases bone and teeth strength
Calcium is the most important nutrient for bone and teeth strength. The daily consumption of calcium ensures that some of it is deposited in the bone and teeth, forming a strong enamel in the teeth. However, when the body needs calcium for its nervous system functioning and there is no supply through diet, it uses the calcium deposit in the teeth and bones.
Therefore, frequent consumption of karkashi leaves helps to ensure all the calcium needs of the body are met.
Improves blood clotting
The human blood is meant to stop flowing after some time, in an event of a cut. However, this may not happen due to some reasons; one of them being inadequate amount of calcium. Calcium is important in triggering the creation of the film that make the blood platelets become gel-like and stop further loss of blood.
Therefore, more karkashi leaves consumption means more calcium, and better blood clot.
With the presence of fiber and moisture, it is impossible to experience indigestion when you eat enough karkashi leaves. Your digestive system works better and helps you prevent and treat digestive and gut issues, such as diarrhea and dysentery, due to its antimicrobial properties.
Zinc is important in improving sexuality and karkashi leaves contains ample amount of this mineral. It influences the production of testosterone and the amount of sperm cells present in a sperm load. Therefor, it may help men improve their fertility.
It is also useful in women fertility as it is used to treat women with issues getting pregnant in traditional medicine.
Karkashi leaves are important in the diet of many northern homes, and other parts of Nigeria have begun to embrace this medicinal leaf. It contains many nutrients that contribute to its medicinal use and can be used to further improve the health of many people.
However, it is not be used as a replacement for recommended supplements that provide nutrients such as folate and vitamins.
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