Called Obe-Igba by the Yorubas and afufa oranyara by the Igbos, Solanum melongena or garden egg as we know it is a highly valued vegetable and constituent of the African food.
A member of the aubergine family, garden eggs comes in different colours (pink, white, yellow, green, black, sometimes striped), shapes and sizes.
Culturally, the garden egg is said to represent fertility and blessing – this explains why it is common to find it being served during wedding ceremonies in some communities across the African continent.
Garden egg is generally said not to contain a huge amount of protein and other nutrients, but it is very rich in dietary fibre, copper and thiamin (vitamin B1) and potassium, a necessary salt that helps in maintaining the function of the heart and regulates blood pressure. It is also a good source of vitamin B6, folate, magnesium and niacin. Garden egg also contains phytonutrients such as nasunin and chlorogenic acid.
The nutrient contained in every 100 grams of this wonderful nature’s gift is as follows:
- Sugars 3.53 g
- Dietary fibre 3 g
- Fat 0.18 g
- Protein 0.98 g
- Thiamine 0.039 mg
- Riboflavin 0.037 mg
- Niacin 0.649 mg
- Pantothenic acid 0.281 mg
- Vitamin B6 0.084 mg
- Folate 22 micrograms
- Vitamin C 2.2 mg
- Vitamin E 0.3 mg
- Vitamin K 3.5 micrograms
- Calcium 9 mg
- Iron 0.23 mg
- Magnesium 14 mg
- Manganese 0.232 mg
- Phosphorus 2 mg
- potassium 229 mg
- Zinc 0.16 mg
In Nigeria, garden eggs are usually at their best from August through October when they come to the market in droves and can be either enjoyed fresh alone or with groundnut or cooked into a sumptuous sauce, which is eaten with boiled yam or plantain.
Other health benefits of garden eggs include:
1. Garden egg positively helps with heart problems and it helps to make the weight reduction diet more successful.
2. The yellow-colour flesh has a bitter-sweet taste as a result of the presence of small amounts of nicotinoid alkaloids and spongy consistency which helps to lower eye pressure in persons with glaucoma without side effect even with high consumption.
3. It is high in potassium, a necessary salt that helps in maintaining the function of the heart and regulate blood pressure.
4. It helps in the treatment of stomach ulcers.
5. Eating garden egg is good for reducing blood cholesterol. It is also a great dietary option for diabetic patients due to its ability to reduce the absorption of glucose in the body and reduce blood sugar levels. It also possesses low soluble carbohydrates, which assist in this regard.
6. Garden egg is great for pregnant women as it is loaded with vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients which make it an essential part of every pregnant woman’s daily vegetable consumption.
7. The leaves can serve as a natural blood tonic in anaemic patients. The leaves also provide women with micronutrients which help in improving blood level.
8. Garden egg is one of the anti-cancer fruit which has been helping for over decades.
9. It provides the body with both fat soluble vitamins and water soluble vitamins, which are rich in Thiamin (Vitamin B6) required for normal growth and proper functioning of the heart and nervous system.
10. Garden egg helps prevent blood clots with the help of vitamin K and bioflavonoids, which strengthen capillaries.
11. Potassium present in garden egg helps in the control of high blood pressure and relieves stress.
12. Just as it happens with other foods that contain fibre, garden eggs help with digestion of food by ensuring the smooth passage of food in the body so that there is no chance of bloating, it prevents constipation and good for general colon health.
13. As a result of its potassium content, this vegetable also aids removes puffiness during pregnancy. It is common for pregnant women to get puffy because of weight gain and oedema, especially on the legs, but this can be controlled/prevented during the nine-month journey by regular consumption of garden egg.
In case you are one of those who’d sneer at this awesome vegetable and isn’t too keen on consuming it, it’s time to have a rethink. Meanwhile, garden eggs are not expensive at all, they are widely available and nutritious. So, what are you waiting for?