If it’s bitter, then avoid it right? Not really, because if it’s bitter, then it might actually be of great benefit to your body. In Nigeria, bitter leaf is mostly incorporated into meals such as bitter leaf soup (Ofe-Onugbu in Igbo) or used mostly for medicinal purposes by the Yorubas (Ewuro). Hence, it is more popular in Western or Southern parts of the country.
Bitter taste aside, the bitter leaf shrub (Vernonia Amygdalina) is packed full with healthy goodness for your body.
Having said that, below are 6 benefits of bitter leaf you should know about. Maybe you will perceive the leaf differently afterwards.
1. It’s a rich source of protein and vitamins
Whether you belong to the “fit fam” club or not, vitamins are good for you. If you need an all-in-one source for vitamins your body will thank you for, then bitter leaf should be your plug. It is rich in Vitamin A, B1, B2, C, E and K.
2. Relieves abdominal issues
Those stomach upsets, diarrhea or indigestion that can have you bent in discomfort can’t stand the presence of bitter leaf in your system. For noticeable relief, you might want to chew a stalk of bitter leaf or extract the juice for drinking.
3. It’s a great detoxifier
Sometimes certain conditions or issues manifest on your skin or body as a result of internal impurities. Bitter leaf helps curb this by removing harmful toxins which might be present in your blood, kidney, or liver. So, a glass of bitter leaf often keeps the toxins away!
4. Aids bowel movement
First, let’s get the fact that infrequent bowel movements (say less than thrice weekly) is not normal and should be a cause for concern. If you experience trouble doing the needful, then it is advisable to incorporate bitter leaf into your diet.
5. Boosts appetite
This life is not balanced; some people have food, but struggle with getting it past their mouth into the stomach. This can point to anorexic tendencies in some individuals. Thankfully, bitter leaf is rich in fibres and minerals that can open up spike up your appetite levels. Make sure to have it around or plant some in your backyard if you can.
6. It cures fever
Those who are knowledgeable in herbal treatment of ailments can attest to the effectiveness of bitter leaf in curing feverish feelings. Oftentimes, fever is an accompanying symptom of malaria. Bitter leaf is effective in controlling this due to the anti-plasmodic properties it contains e.g quinine.
7. It boosts immunity
As cliche as it sounds, prevention really is better than cure. The various vitamins, minerals and proteins, antibiotic, antifungal properties in bitter leaf makes it an ideal immunity booster. It protects against illnesses, skin issues, and life-threatening diseases like cancer and pneumonia.
Caution: Depending on your medical history, it is advisable to consult a medical professional before consuming bitter leaf, especially in the case of pregnancy.