The Garden egg, also known as the African eggplant is a tropical perennial plant closely related to the eggplant (aubergine) and widely cultivated for its use as food, medicinal purposes, and ornamental plant. The Garden Egg Leaf, locally known as Akwukwo Anyara by the Igbos, Efo Igbo by the Yorubas, and Ganyen Gauta by the Hausa, is a highly valued vegetable in West Africa. The plant is grown as a vegetable for its edible fruits which are cooked and consumed raw.
In Nigeria, the garden egg is commonly grown in the northern parts coming in green color; this variety is known to be bitter but very nourishing. There are also other varieties like the ‘White Eggplant’ that come in plain white colour, with no bitterness and resistance to the tobacco mosaic virus.
In the eastern part where the Igbos use it in preparing various forms of raw salad. At times it is mixed with other protein buffers (Ugba) as a protein backup in the salad. The older generation love it so much due to its bitter taste and health benefits
The garden egg is one of the greatest food, in terms of health benefits, for pregnant women. Studies have even suggested that eating eggplant can boost overall health and well-being.
In a study in 2016, researchers at Covenant University, Ota, Ogun State, found that inclusion of the fruit in one’s diet can ensure a significant reduction in weight gain. They found that 8% supplement of two different types of Solanum aethiopicum and Solanum macrocarpon, two common types of African garden egg, caused 54.24% and 42.24% weight gain reduction respectively in tested rats.
Due to the presence of minerals like manganese, magnesium, vitamin K, folate, copper, and vitamin C in garden eggs, it also aids bone strengthening and general bone health. Regular consumption of eggplant is highly beneficial in reducing the risk of osteoporosis and bone degradation. Other health benefits of the Garden Egg are:
1. It is rich in Vitamin B
The eggplant is rich in vitamins B’s such as niacin, thiamin, B6, and pantothenic acid that aid the body’s fat and protein usage. Vitamin B also plays a vital role in promoting good health and well-being. It aids in the development of the brain while ensuring the smooth functioning of the body’s immune system.
2. It aids in Digestion
Eggplants, just like the guava are rich in fiber and aid in controlling bowel movement and proper digestion of food. They are believed to be one of the best sources of dietary fibre which is an essential element in any balanced diet.
3. It prevents Anaemia
Anaemia is a deficiency in the number or quality of red blood cells in your body. Red blood cells help in distributing oxygen around the body using hemoglobin. Anaemia means that either the hemoglobin or red blood cells level in the body is lower than normal. Due to its rich content of iron (which aids in the increase of red blood cells) and copper, garden egg helps in fighting against anaemia.
4. It promotes weight loss
Eggplants, especially the greenish varieties contain low carbohydrates and calories which are essential for weight management. So if you have been looking for tips on how to lose weight, I guess you should start including eggplant in your daily diet.
5. It prevents heart diseases
Garden eggs are rich in vitamin B1 (thiamin) and vitamin B6 (niacin) which are essential for the proper functioning of the heart and cellular respiration. Thiamin deficiency leads to cardiovascular problems while niacin helps in the maintenance of a healthy nervous system.
6. It also aids in the prevention of Diabetes
Garden eggs are good sources of soluble fibre and carbohydrates which in turn help in controlling/preventing diabetes. According to FineLib.com, foods rich in carbohydrates and fibre help in regulating blood sugar levels and glucose absorption.
7. It Improves Kidney Health
Garden egg leaves aid naturally in cleansing your kidney by filtering the blood and eradicating unwanted materials from getting into your system. Garden egg leaves are more effective when consumed raw or converted into tea by boiling for a few seconds and then filtering out the juice in a metal container; this juice or liquid can then be taken three times per 24 hours or more.
8. It Can prevent Cancer
Garden egg leaves contain an anti-inflammatory agent that makes them one of the best veggies successful in the prevention and treatment of swelling and cancer-causing inflammations. Garden egg leaves aid in the prevention of cancer formation as a result of their presence of phytochemicals that go against free radicals that could, by any means, lead to inflammations that might cause cancerous diseases in the body system.
9. It Boosts Fertility
Like the garden egg itself, a lot of African cultures believe that the leaves and the garden egg fruit itself represent fertility, and have been used in local medicine in the treatment of libido and infertility issues.
10. Great for pregnancy
One of the health benefits of drinking boiled garden egg leaves in pregnancy is the provision of minerals and vitamins needed for a good and better health condition of both mama and child during pregnancy. This helps offer proper development, prevention of birth defects, and ensures healthy weight for the unborn child.
Previously, experts in a study indicated that garden eggs could be used for the treatment of stomach ulcers. The study, according to the 2011 Journal of the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine found that African garden egg to be a cheap source of natural anti-ulcer remedy.