Ukwa: Health And Nutritional Benefits Of African Breadfruit

Botanically known as “Treculia Africana,” African breadfruit (ukwa) is a very nutrition meal commonly eaten by the Igbo people in southeastern Nigeria.

Also called Afon in Yoruba; Ize in Benin, Jekri, Sobo in Ijaw, and Ediang in Efik, Ukwa is the seed of the African breadfruit which is similar to the breadfruit eaten in the Caribbean and South Pacific, but a bit different.

The African counterpart is much larger growing as large as watermelons and weighing 10 or more pounds.  Also, it is not sought after for its “meat” but rather for its seeds.

To extract the seeds from the fruit, the fruits are allowed to ripen and fall from the large trees in which they grow on. The fruits are then allowed to rot, and machetes used to crack open the fruit or sometimes the fruit is even thrown on large rocks.

Breadfruit Porridge

The seeds are typically roasted and eaten or can be boiled to soften them making a sort of porridge. African breadfruit can also be made into refreshing drinks as well as cakes, snacks, and cookies.

Studies have shown that breadfruit comes with lots of essential vitamins and minerals like beta-carotene, vitamin c, and folic acid (folate). Like other tropical delicacies, Ukwa is rich in vital B-complex groups of vitamins, thiamin, pyridoxine, and niacin.

100g or 3.5oz serving of Ukwa is composed of about 10% fat primarily unsaturated fat (the good fat), 12-15% protein, 25% carbohydrates with 2% fibre and with only about 240 kcal in this serving amount, it is a good option for individuals with diabetes.

fried ukwa

Here are other nutritional and health benefits of African Breadfruit:

It Is Heart Friendly

Breadfruit is an excellent source of potassium, thus making it extremely heart friendly. The nutrients in Ukwa reduce blood pressure in the body and regulate the heart rate by minimizing the effects of sodium.

Another thing that makes this a good cardiovascular food is that dietary fibre helps reduce cholesterol by preventing its absorption in the gut. It lowers bad cholesterol (LDL) while elevating good cholesterol (HDL) in the body. It decreases the triglyceride levels, which is one of the main causes of heart attacks.

Ukwa Is Rich In Omega And 3 Fatty Acids

Breadfruit contains high amounts of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, which are vital for the proper development of the mind and body. Omega 3 Fatty acid is seen as one of the best fats the body needs as it helps in brain development and function, among many other things it does including contributing to the heart function and reducing inflammation.

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Collagen Production

The high amount of Vitamin C in breadfruit helps in the production of collagen, a protein which provides elasticity to the skin. Another important thing with collagen is that it is a protein that makes up 30 percent of the body and it is found in our bones and joints as well. This means any food that aids its production is a must eat.

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Source of Energy

Asides containing a great amount of protein, Ukwa is an excellent energy-giving food also. The African breadfruit is composed of about 10% fat primarily unsaturated fat (the good fat), 12-15% protein, 25% carbohydrates with 2% fibre.  It is very beneficial for athletes and gym goers as a pre or post-workout meal.

Promotes Hair Growth

The moderate amounts of iron in breadfruit improve blood circulation in the scalp, stimulating the hair follicles to promote hair growth.

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Treats Dandruff, Itchiness & Hair Breakage

Asides promoting hair growth, breadfruits also helps in reducing hair breakage.

The omega 3  and 6 fatty acids, in Ukwa naturally helps condition the hair, reducing hair breakage. The fatty acids present in breadfruit also regulate the sebum production in the scalp, reducing dandruff and itchiness.

It also inhibits scalp inflammation and cell death, preventing hair loss even while it works on your brain health. You will agree with me that as stated, the brain requires adequate amounts of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids for nervous health.

At the end of the day, one of the most important things about this is that it is able to promote the general health of the body since it is rich in Vitamin C. This vitamin is known to boost the immune system and ensure that the body is strong enough to fight off diseases.

Photo credit: Dobby’s Signature


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