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Busayo Oderinde: Wonder Foods – The Nigerian Edition




I titled this the Nigerian edition because we heard of wonder foods like Quinoa, Turmeric, Pomegranate, Broccoli, Spearmint, Radicchio, Flaxseeds, Figs, Ginseng, Sprouts, Berries including Acai berry and the Indian Gooseberry (amla) e.t.c. All these are said to do amazing wonderful things for the human body: weight loss, great skin, cure diseases and great overall health. They are great but they are not indigenous to us and to buy some of these foods cost a ton. The joyous thing is that right here at home. We have our very own ‘wonder foods’  that do their share of wonders.

In writing this article, I am sure I cannot exhaust the offerings available in terms of wonder foods but I will pick a few I know about.

Green Leafy Vegetables
We are blessed in this clime with a lot of vegetables. A staple in our diet with our many soups, so Mother Nature helped us out in that field. We have Ugwu, Efo Soko, Efo Tete, gure(water leaf), Ewedu, Utazi, Oha, Bitterleaf, Efinrin etc.

Green Leafy vegetables are Iron rich, a blood booster, high in Chlorophyll- the ultimate natural medicine for vitality, skin, immunity and general wellness. They are also rich in vitamins, minerals, enzymes, Phytonutrients, Calcium and Betacarotene. They also have a high amount of antioxidant and antimicrobial properties.

My first experience with dates was when I went for youth service in the North. Dates are rich in Potassium, Iron, dietary fibres, vitaminsA & K, Copper, Magnesium, Manganese, Niacin, Riboflavin, B Vitamins. Dates have 23 types of amino acids than any other popular fruit like apple, orange and bananas. It also contains Selenium, Cancer fighting agent. All these in one little fruit. Amazing.

Dates, according to many romantic novels I have read, is the food of love; they were on to something because Dates are great for sexual health. In fact, while I was serving, I heard that eating dates was part of the ritual a new wife is put through, it helps (how do I say this elegantly?)it helps down there smell and taste delicious. That’s what I heard o.

Dates curb  overeating because it makes you feel full and it is easily digested. You have to eat dates in moderation though, because they are really high in sugar/fructose, a handful is enough for a serving. Since it’s available in commercial quantities in the north, I wonder why we don’t have a Nigerian made Date jam/jelly.

This is another food I had when I went to the North. It seems that our Northern folks are on to something. Acha is a wholly proteinous grain. It is called “Fonio” in West African Countries and “Hungary Rice” in English. Acha can be prepared like couscous or made into a porridge. I believe Acha is our equivalent of Quinoa because they have the same properties.

Acha is great for managing diabetes and obesity. It has all the nutrients gotten from wholegrains. Most importantly, Acha contains a powerful three pronged compound called Leucine, Methionine and Valine that promotes normal growth, repair tissues, regulate blood sugar, gives energy and helps proper mental function. These compounds can’t be made by the body. They have to be acquired by food or dietary supplements, so Acha is pretty great.

Unripe Foods for Weightloss
I will talk about two examples that I know about: Unripe Plantain and Pawpaw.
Pawpaw is rich in potassium, calcium, Vitamins A & C, Folates, Beta-Carotene, Lutein, Zeaxanthin. It’s rich in “Papain”, a group of protelytic enzyme which aids digestion and weight loss. I have seen a lot of people lose weight rapidly by eating Unripe pawpaw. Another great thing I have seen it used for is expectant mothers eat them to help prevent tears during delivery and they say it works.

Plantain is rich in potassium, magnesium, dietary fiber, Vitamins C, A & B6, Iron. Unripe plantain is excellent for weightloss. I know a friend’s dad that lost more than 30 kg by eating unripe plantain and different sauces everyday. It was cut up in the freezer and was cooked daily for him – this was without any exercise. Unripe Plantain is also great for men’s sexual health and this man fathered a child in mid-sixties after this diet and weightloss.

Garlic has antimicrobial and anti fungal properties. It combats viral conditions and stomach cancers. It helps reduce cholesterol and blood fats. Garlic has sulfur that activate liver enzyme that the body flush out toxins. It is also high in Allicin and Selenium, cancer fighting agents.

The most common complaint against garlic is that it smells on your breath and your body. A trick I have learnt is to cut fresh ones to drink; you can also take it with a glass of milk. The really stale ones will smell; so go for fresh. I also know it is great for great skin. My skin is especially radiant when I eat garlic.

Aloe Vera
Aloe vera contains at least 75 nutrients, 20 minerals, 12 vitamins and 22 amino acids. Taking the juice regularly can do wonders to overall health and immunity. ‘But it is bitter’ Well good things don’t come easy.
My mum has an entire garden of Aloe vera plants and it does work wonders.

Coconut Oil
The health benefits of coconut oil include hair care, skin care, stress relief, cholesterol level maintenance, weight loss, boosted immune system, proper digestion and regulated metabolism. It also provides relief from kidney problems, heart diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, HIV, and cancer – while helping to improve dental quality and bone strength. These benefits of oil can be attributed to the presence of lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid, and their respective properties, such as antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-fungal, antibacterial and soothing qualities. It is truly a wonder food.

Coconut oil is my sister’s new health obsession. She uses it for her hair skin, food and I have jumped on the bandwagon. It is also great for oral health. She does something called “oil pulling” every morning which kills harmful bacteria and reduces appetite. This is done by gargling with coconut oil for twenty minutes then rinsing out with warm water and salt before brushing. It is also great for baking. Try using it for coconut cake, c’est magnifique.

So there we have it, a list of wonder foods I know, do you know more? Please share, Have a great week ahead.

***Editor’s disclaimer: This article is based on writer’s viewpoint. Please contact your health provider before you make any dietary changes.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Chris Miles

My name is Busayo, a Food Enthusiast, I love love food, its a huge passion for me and I believe Chocolates make the world a happier place. Feel free to contact me via email, [email protected]



    August 9, 2015 at 5:31 pm

    Looooove this! You forgot ukwa (oil bean), a legume high in protein and good fat and loaded with plenty vitamins. There’s also sour sop, ukpaka, zobbo, okra, cashew nuts…

  2. Nahum

    August 9, 2015 at 5:56 pm

    I never knew about unripe paw paw. I will definitely try it out

  3. Rrrrrrrrrr

    August 9, 2015 at 6:20 pm

    This is really Naija wonder foods! I for one am in love with spicy anything and everything and garlic is my obsession. Stew, meat, fish, chicken, anything, garlic and ginger must go it. The only thing is I don’t eat it raw. I really can’t.

  4. Anon

    August 9, 2015 at 6:30 pm

    Green leafy veg; Uziza, Ugborgoror (spelling?) Achara, efo yanrin, efo igbo, efirin oso (curry leaves,) The efinrin you mentioned is nchawun (spelling?) Alubosa elewe (spring onions,) yakwa used in miyan taushe, na’a (mint,) okwe oyibo (moringa…)

    Dates are tasty. Good for a sweet tooth like me and they have a long shelf life. .A date smoothie is delish. I also like the crunchy yellow dates; khalal fresh dates.

    Yes to everything about coconut oil except on my face. I broke out when I tried it. It is comedogenic

    Ginger. Similar qualities to garlic and tastes better. Ginger, garlic and honey for colds, sore throat, coughs and sinus.

  5. Funmilola

    August 9, 2015 at 6:50 pm

    I totally agree with you about acha and dates cos I school in Jos and they are available here in abundance……I just got to know acha is very rich in protein sef now I’ll try to take it often with dates too!
    But you know Jos actually has all the above mentioned wonder foods ba…..nice write up.

    • lolade

      August 10, 2015 at 11:31 am

      Oh wow!me too! I encountered acha when i schooled at Command secondary school in Jos.
      I found it very nice but cant seem to find it elsewhere.

  6. miss Pee

    August 9, 2015 at 7:44 pm

    Aloe vera does wonders to my hair, I started using it after I gained admission into university, see ehn, my hair was so scanty that made people whose hair was classified as being scanty laffed at me, you can imagine wrapping rubber band more than 20times to hold my hair it was that bad ‘SMH’. Now they complain how my hair is fuller and very thick, and then my hair growth too is tremendous after I cut it in July last year, I’ll be cutting it in September or October this year too. It’s also good for the face too. Nice article you have here Busayo! I always send your links to my boyfried to educate the brother too. Thank you tOo.

    • Do tell

      August 9, 2015 at 10:09 pm

      Hey Miss Pee, how do you use the aloe on your hair?

    • Miss Pee

      August 16, 2015 at 6:53 am

      @Do tell, so sorry I’m replying late, I apply it before they apply styling lotion for rolling my hair either after retouching my hair or just washing it.. I don’t wash it out. Again I noticed when I use the aloe vera gel for rolling my hair, my curls can last for a week and I don’t remove the curls once I’m out from the dryer.

  7. Pat

    August 9, 2015 at 7:50 pm

    Great article. These super foods reminds me of the saying “eat to live” that is, feeding your cells not just your stomach. Another great food is Garbanzo beans (chickpeas) .

    • Temidola

      August 7, 2019 at 6:22 am

      Hello, do you have an idea what the local name of Chickpeas could be? Perhaps you even know where I could source it locally?
      Thank you

  8. molarah

    August 9, 2015 at 8:38 pm

    Really interesting information. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Nahum

    August 9, 2015 at 8:43 pm

    Aloe Vera gel is also great for clearing up the skin. You know the meat of the leaf, or the pulp. It’s dries up acne beautifully

  10. bruno

    August 9, 2015 at 10:46 pm

    I loved reading this article. so interesting.

    aleo vera is bitter as hell. they should force terrorists to chew a plate of aleo vera as a form of torture and punishment. my gawd. the taste can damage ur taste buds, I swear.

    I recommend the food called water. water is the best for clearing up ur skin. 8 to 10 glasses of water every day and watch as u skin will start glowing.

    • Nahum

      August 9, 2015 at 11:22 pm

      Yep, water is the best. From losing weight, to glowing skin, to longer hair…water, water, water.

    • Bolu

      August 10, 2015 at 4:06 am

      @ Bruno u are crazy lol! I remember someone telling me how criminals should be punished. The person said that they should put relaxer on their head and let them sit in the sun for many hours. Lmao

  11. bee

    August 9, 2015 at 11:18 pm

    baobab seeds are delicious and super healthy too,alas its only available in the north as i heard.

  12. Wale

    August 9, 2015 at 11:18 pm

    Thanks for sharing-I too didn’t know about the unripe plantain and paw paw. Good info. We have plenty here in Florida and will incorporate it in our diet.

    • Pat

      August 10, 2015 at 4:25 am

      Oh and unripe plantain can be made like Amala. A concoction I came up with which I am happy to share. After peeling the back of the plantain, cut it into very tiny pieces and put it in a blender, add some water not too much just enough to grind it into a thick paste. Add the paste into a pot and stir it on fire or leave on low heat for sometime then start stirring it like u are making Amala. When it is ready it will have the consistency of Amala and it will be light brown. Enjoy! 🙂

    • Wale

      August 10, 2015 at 1:00 pm

      Amala made from scratch, I can try it but doubt my man will eat it. Then I would have to search for ewedu vegetable. A big task. Who knows…anything for home food.

    • Pat

      August 10, 2015 at 5:48 pm

      I know people prefer draw soup for Amala but you can use Okra or Amaranth green vegetable if you don’t find Ewedu. Amaranth vegetable can be found in any Asian supermarket in the US.

  13. bee

    August 9, 2015 at 11:19 pm

    baobab seeds are super healthy and tasty too,alas i heard they are only available in the north

  14. Wale

    August 9, 2015 at 11:30 pm

    Busayo-going back to the unripe plantain, how unripe? Is it the really hard green ones or “about” to ripen type(like the texture used for chips)one should buy? We are thinking the really hard ones will be hard to cook/boil and might be devoid of sweetness. Please explain the preparation.

    • Busayo


      August 10, 2015 at 4:52 am

      Hi Wale, the really hard ones are the ones you want and it’s true the taste is pretty bland but you can bring as much sweetness as you want with your sauce, stew, soup, whichever suits you.

      Its also best to cook the plantain in their peel, cut up into chunky or bite size sizes, then you remove the Peel after cooking, this helps them cook well.

    • Wale

      August 10, 2015 at 12:55 pm

      Thanks. I look forward to trying it.

  15. Lilo

    August 10, 2015 at 4:21 am

    Busayo. Nice piece as usual. Question about plantain- is it healthy to roast almost ripe plantain to make bole?

  16. Alert!

    August 10, 2015 at 9:57 am

    Please what is Acha? does it have any other local name to identify with?

  17. Busayo


    August 10, 2015 at 10:15 am

    @Lilo Yes I believe its healthy to prepare plantain this way.

    @Alert I don’t know any other local name for Acha, am sure if you ask the right people, they will help you in getting it

  18. 'Oma

    August 10, 2015 at 10:27 am

    Hey people.Been trying to find Kale leaves in Lagos.Can anybody help?Does anyone know its Igbo or Yoruba name so i can hunt it down faster.Thanks

  19. the generous economist

    August 10, 2015 at 10:50 am

    Please where can I get this famous coconut oil in Nigeria? preferably Lagos and PH. Heard so much abt its wonders, and wondering where i can get pure unprocessed ones

    • Ann

      August 10, 2015 at 11:35 am

      You can actually prepare the coconut oil yourself if you do not find someone to buy from, my sister prepares it and my friends and i get from her, but she is in Abuja, there is someone in Ajao Estate that prepares it too, bellanaija won’t let me post a contact number number lols…

  20. $exyD

    August 10, 2015 at 11:08 am

    Iru-locust bean…when you eat it while pregnant, it will do both mother and child lots of good.
    Black soup- omoebhe- combination of different veggies is so good to detoxify….and lots more

  21. the generous economist

    August 10, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    Thanks @ann…ill google how to process it.. thanks

  22. MIST

    August 10, 2015 at 6:26 pm

    Try coconut oil with brown rice. Heaven!! heat your coconut oil, add the rice (for that smoky effect add a little butter) and some roasted sesame seeds Yummy!!

    • Adeyemi

      January 26, 2020 at 9:16 am

      Coconut oil shouldn’t be cooked. You are hurting yourself if you do.

  23. Fabulous B

    August 10, 2015 at 11:12 pm

    Thanks Busayo. I appreciate you on this wonderful piece of informations. I keep telling my clients that to have a great skin is not topical only, it has to do with the inside. Many do not know the wonders of detoxification. When some of the people we’ve been able to help with there skin refused to take the recommended supplements (we can’t get all the nutrients we need from our eating lifestyle & the busy days), it baffled me initially but got to understand that many are not well informed and some claim to know it all about health and healthy living but they are only deceiving themselves bcos no practice of the little they claim to know. With changes to what we eat, how and when we eat +supplements for support and others. It takes a disciplined mind over a period of time to master & cultivate a beneficial lifestyle.

  24. Fabulous B

    August 10, 2015 at 11:15 pm

    Busayo darling, pls let’s talk better pin:2BC07481. Don’t have your contact, would have contacted you. Remain blessed, dear

  25. naawaa

    August 11, 2015 at 2:41 pm

    Please what’s the Hausa name for Dates? I prepare my coconut oil by:
    crushing the coconut first, then
    pour hot water into the crushed coconut
    sieve the Chaff from the coconut milk.
    I put the coconut milk in a pot and bring to a boil,
    turn off the flame after which the oil floats on top. I use a spoon to gently Scrap it into another pot and also cook it just so any water that is in it will dry up.

    • Atoke


      August 11, 2015 at 2:43 pm

      Dates are called Debi’no in Hausa

  26. naawaa

    August 13, 2015 at 3:31 pm

    thanks @Atoke.

  27. Edeh chinenye

    October 17, 2016 at 1:57 pm

    Pls what is the Igbo or yoroba name of flaxseed pls I want to buy it

  28. MT

    May 10, 2017 at 2:07 pm

    Moringa (zogale)is another wonder food available in Northern Nigeria, not sure about down South- the leaves are used in a salad, can be dried and taken with soy milk; seeds are purportedly medicinal

  29. MT

    May 10, 2017 at 2:09 pm

    Forgot to mention baobab(kuka) which leaves are dried and powdered and made into a soup to go with swallow. I think some also use the seeds/pods. I have seen super food smoothies containing baobab abroad

  30. Mary Anne

    July 21, 2017 at 5:42 pm

    Please Sister’s thanks for this wonderful write up someone help me what is Quinoa. Call. In Nigeria language

  31. Shola Smith

    July 6, 2018 at 1:30 pm

    Thanks for the enlightenment on Acha. I will like to draw your attention to Dr. Sebi’s cell foods which consider carrot, garlic and aloe vera as cyanide which are below the PH scale. Remember these are hybrid plants.

    • Adeyemi

      January 26, 2020 at 9:20 am

      True. Our Dr Sebi warned against hybrid plants. Some of them are aloe vera, peppermint, ginseng, beets, garlic, banana(except burro banana), comfrey, cassava (and other starchy foods)

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