Heart health isn’t much of a topic anymore and Nigerian foods, thank God, are quite delicious and crave-worthy, a bit addictive and heart-friendly. Actually, Heart-friendly meals and diets have become a necessity all around the world.
Unhealthy hearts are one of the leading causes of concern in Nigeria today. Heart-related diseases now cut across all age groups within the nation. So, how do we satisfy the craving for delicious Nigerian food while maintaining good heart health?
As at October 2017, an estimated 150,000 Nigerians died annually to heart diseases. This figure is expected to increase to 3 million within the next 12 years.
Something must be done to combat this trend. Also, with about 34% of the under 50 population suffering from high blood pressure, a lot has to be done and fast.
Heart diseases are on the increase among young people. Nigerians in their early to mid-thirties and late twenties now suffer heart-related conditions more often than ever.
The days when heart health was a topic only for the elderly are fare gone. More young people are working towards a heart-friendly lifestyle regardless of income or societal status.
Some heart-related diseases very common in Nigeria include;
- High-blood pressure
- Low blood pressure
Prevention is better than cure, according to an age-old maxim. Why not start on heart-friendly foods in order to prevent expensive medical bills in the future.
So, why you are probably concerned about how to start saving up to get the necessary medications for your heart, why not let us introduce you to some common and inexpensive Nigerian foods which work wonders for your heart.
They are one of the best heart-friendly foods you can get. They are fat-rich foods which contain healthy mono-saturated fats. Avocados reduce LDL within the body and increase the HDL cholesterol.
The fruits grow freely in different parts of the country. They are well-researched healthy Nigerian foods.
Avocados are so versatile and can be added to a variety of salads, smoothies, dips. They can also be enjoyed plain, or as garnishing on food.
Bitter-Leaf Soup/Obe Ewuro/Ofe Onugbo
This highly nutritious, and regardless of the name, very delicious soup does amazing things for the heart. Bitter-leaf reduces the effects of bad cholesterol by almost 50% and significantly improves the good cholesterol.
The rich, dark green vegetable is a powerhouse of nutrients and anti-oxidants. It’s a common first soup for babies among the Yoruba, easy on the stomach and quite nourishing. Ewedu soup is also quite rich in iron and is great as a source for building the blood
You can’t go wrong with this food as far as the heart is concerned. Ewedu is a very common Nigerian food, especially as part of the popular Abula.
Abula (one of the popular Nigerian foods commonly consumed in the west) is yam flour paste with bean stew and ewedu often with a chunk of goat-meat, boiled in pepper stew. It remains perhaps the second most indigenous Nigerian food representing the south-western part of the country.
Spinach is another one of the very affordable heart-friendly Nigerian foods
The dark green vegetable is rich in potassium, magnesium and folate along side other vitamins and minerals. Spinach is also one of the most common vegetables, even across continents.
It can be prepared as vegetable soup, stir-fry, salads and garnishing on rice and pasta. This leafy green vegetable packed full of delicious goodness. Spinach helps to prevent hypertension and high blood pressure.
The vegetable is also known as Aleho in Hausa and Iyana/Tete abalaiye in Yoruba. Spinach is sometimes perceived to be a foreign vegetable, but is sitting pretty as a healthy Nigerian food. You only need find out the name it goes by in your particular location in order to get yourself some healthy goodness.
Unripe Plantain Flour
Plantain flour is an alternative to the common staples eaten all round the country. The low-starch content when compared to other swallows makes this a much healthier substitute.
Fiber contents of unripe plantains help reduce cholesterol which has a positive effect on heart health. Diabetics often switch to this staple, allowing them enjoy swallows while staying healthy.
Plantain flour is one Nigerian food which is iron-rich with lots of other minerals great for maintaining heart health. Potassium controls blood pressure and heart rates, thereby reducing the occurrences of hypertension and heart attacks.
Unripe plantain contains serotonin, which increases dilation of the arteries and also improves blood flow out of the heart.
This soup is indigenous to northern Nigeria as well as majority of the Hausa. Made from dried Baobab leaves and okra, which are two highly nutritious foods. The baobab leaves are rich in potassium, one of the major heart-positive minerals.
Beta-carotenes, vitamins A, B and C and folates also make this soup one major power-house of medicines and nutrients.
Nuts also makes it to the list of the Nigerian foods which are heart-friendly
Almonds and cashew nuts are tree nuts and are rich in magnesium. These Nigerian food nuts grow all over the country but not in commercial quantities. Almonds and cashew nuts are quite beneficial in pushing metabolic functions.
Magnesium helps to regulate a great variety of metabolic functions in the body, which include blood pressure. Heart health is often at risk from increased blood pressure which could lead to several fatal diseases.
By regulating blood pressure, these nuts help do amazing work in keeping our hearts healthy. They are also great sources of healthy fats and cholesterol.
As far as Nigerian foods are concerned, zobo is the ultimate drink. Zobo drinks are available at almost all street corners in Lagos and other states in Nigeria. Roselle flowers, also known as Ishapa in Yoruba, is a local herb and vegetable. The zobo drink (unsweetened) helps to reduce blood pressure in at risk patients.
Common street zobo may not be as effective because it might contain sweeteners and other unhealthy additives. It is always best to get your leaves yourself and boil you some zobo.
The light brown Rosselle leave eaten in the south west as soup. The soup can be prepared with egusi and eaten with swallows.