Ugba is the local name for African oil bean seed among the Igbos – a tribe in Nigeria.
Different tribes in Nigeria have different names for this plant.
The Igbos also call it ukpaka, the Yorubas call it Apara while the Efik tribe call it Ukana.
African oil bean is a tropical tree crop that belongs to the
* Leguminoseae* family and the mimosoideae sub-family and is botanically known as Pentaclethra macrophylla.
It grows approximately 6 meters in girth and 21 meters height.
The tree is low branched with low wide buttresses and an open crown that allows light to penetrate under its canopy.
It possesses seeds that are enclosed in a flat pods.
They tend to burst once matured thereby distributing the seeds all over the area in which the tree covers.
The most widely used part of the African oil bean tree is the seeds, which serves as a traditional food condiment generally produced by natural (local) fermentation.
It is an important and cheap source of protein for people whose staple foods are deficient in proteins.
African oil bean seeds is an excellent source of energy, protein, amino acids, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, vitamins, calcium, manganese and copper.
It is also eaten as a delicacy and used as flavouring for soup.
It must undergo fermentation process before eaten in order to eradicate any unwanted toxins.
However, the fermentation process decreases the high nutritional content of the African oil bean seeds.
Reducing the levels of vitamin and minerals to the point where no phosphorus is found in the fermented Ugba.
Despite the reduction of the nutritional content to the fermentation process, the health benefits of Ugba.
-African oil bean seed cannot be overemphasized.
Below are some of the health benefits of consuming Ugba:
- It lowers the cholesterol level – Ugba is a rich source of saponins that have been proven effective for the reducing the plasma cholesterol.
- Possess alkaloids with antibacterial properties against certain infectious bacterial.
- It helps to prevent and lower the chances of developing cataracts.
- Increased intake of this food increases haemoglobin value. It increases oxygenation of tissue to enhance specific hormones that stimulate the production of red blood cells important in proper cardiac function.
- Daily consumption one spoon of the mixture of the liquid of the fermented seed with honey can solve the problem of insomnia.
- It has both preventive and curative ability to heart failure.
- It corrects epilepsy – a neurological disorder not immediately but with two or three years.