Things have really changed. Mothers have preferred other ingredients which are chemical based compared to our native condiments that have stood the test of time and provided adequate nutrition to us all. I remembered those days I and my siblings visited our grandmother at Surulere in the early 90s, her soups and stews were really delicious even though she would not add ingredients like seasonings with Monosodium glutamate and other processed condiments. One of such native ingredients that have helped her stew became a delight for everyone is Locust Bean which is commonly called Iru by the Yorubas. In the South East, their form of Iru is called Ogiri and in the North, the natives call it Dawadawa. Globally, it is referred to as African locust bean with botanical name as Parkia biglobosa.
In Nigeria, especially among the Yorubas, the beans is fermented and then converted to two different forms; Mashed (Iru Pete) and whole (Iru Woro) used in different types of soup to achieve different results.
Why You Should Consider Eating Locust Beans
The African locust bean as it is commonly called by the whites has also been found to possess numerous benefits that have helped in improving the health of people for centuries. It only surprises me that this fermented condiment has been eradicated from the cooking cupboard of elites and educated for other less or no nutritious ingredients. Also, a few ill informed people are of the opinion that locust bean is added to stews for the purpose of improving taste only, little did they know that it can help in curbing many debilitating diseases as science have proven its nutritional and health properties. Let’s see how it helps you.
1. High protein:
Considering the fact that most people cannot afford to consume adequate amount of meat and fish protein, which are the primary sources of protein, it becomes essential to include other sources of cheap protein to avoid its deficiency. According to WHO, more and more children and women are becoming protein deficient in Africa, leading to stunted growth, poor development and other associated complications. It is important to note that locust beans contain high protein and can account for a reasonable percentage of your daily protein requirement if frequently used in your meals.
2. Improved Vision:
According to proximate analysis, Locust beans are estimated to contain protein (30 per cent), fat (15 per cent) crude fibre (four per cent) ash (two per cent and carbohydrates (49 per cent). The attractive yellow colour shows a reasonable presence of phytochemicals and carotenoid; an important precursor for retinol (Vitamin A) which indicates that this ingredient could help to improve vision.
3. Helps in controlling cholesterol levels:
Research has also shown that the fermented beans contain high levels of High Density Lipoproteins (HDL) – the good cholesterol. The research was carried out in animals and has been found to stabilize cholesterol level within healthy limits in the human body.
Apart from the edible portion of the plant, it has also being reported that the crushed bark of the locust bean tree can help in wound healing and serves as one of the ingredients used in treating leprosy. The bark is also useful in fever treatment and to relieve toothache.
Finally, do not forget to add Locust beans to all your soups and stews not only because it tastes good and can serve as a tastier alternative to other condiments but because it is loaded with numerous health benefits. You would not regret you did.
Advice: When you add locust beans (Iru) into your meals, try to monitor the quantity of table salt you will be adding to the meals, because some amount of salt had already been added to some Iru type to preserve it.
Like us on Facebook
Follow @Foods_NG on Twitter