‘Iru’ or African Locust Beans comes in two colours -black and brown. Definitely, you must be more familiar with the already boiled and fermented iru.
This fruit used for spicing up foods in Nigeria has a unique odour that makes some persons love it.
In Ofada stew, it makes all the difference.
However, because of this same odour, some persons have refused to make iru part of their ingredients when they cook soups.
Iru Nutritional Fact
Identified in the research are:
Moisture content 8.41%
Crude fibre 11.75%
Carbohydrate of 67.30%
Sugar 9.00 °Brix
Furthermore, iru is rich in different antioxidants.
Caroteniods, ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) and others that are considered anti-nutritional factors/toxins – phytic acid, crude saponins, tannins, phenols and hydrocyanic acid (HCN) are all in iru.
Health Benefits Of Iru
While we look at the health benefits of of iru, we will pick out each items in it especially the antioxidants and look at their benefits.
Lowers Risk Of Cancer
Locust beans contain an antioxidant called Carotenoids. These are beneficial antioxidants that can protect you from certain cancers. Carotenoids also enhances your immune system.
Most importantly, a 2002 study highlighted different benefits of carotenoids to humans.
Note that there are different forms of dietary carotenoids – beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.
They are all helpful in different ways.
“Beta-Carotene may have added benefits due its ability to be converted to vitamin A which is essential for your immune system.
Also, another compound in iru, phytic acid, is also great for its potential of reducing risk of certain cancers.
Although, this is one of the anti-nutrients in iru, its fermentation process degrades the phytic acid, making it good for consumption.
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Another antioxidant in locust beans, saponin, also helps the body to fight free radicals. It also lowers risk of cancer.
A 2004 study stated that “clinical studies have suggested that these health-promoting components, saponins, affect the immune system in ways that help to protect the human body against cancers”.
It also lowers cholesterol levels. Saponins decrease blood lipids, lower cancer risks, and lower blood glucose response.
Another antioxidant found in iru is phenol. Phenolic compounds have long been associated with a variety of biochemical and pharmacological properties, including antioxidant, antiviral, anticancer, and anti-inflammatory activities.
Promotes Good Eye Sight
Two other forms of carotenoids that are common are lutein and zeaxanthin and these are great for eye sight.
These two antioxidants are great because they absorb damaging blue light that enters the eye.
Reducing the use of seasoning and using more of iru and other spices would be a good adjustment for someone with eye problem.
Promotes Kidney Function
Locust beans is also great for your kidney. Again, the antioxidant, carotenoids in iru helps in protecting you against kidney stones.
People who have kidney stone issues would find this helpful.
It is easy to add to your meal. You can either blend it or add it the way it is.
Good Source Of Energy
Iru is sweet because it contains sugar.
This sugar and carbohydrate contents in iru, make it a good source of energy.
The carbohydrate in iru is more easily digested and absorbed than other complex carbohydrates.
It is also an indication of the sensory appeal of the fruit pulp
Boosts Immune System
Iru has a sour taste and that is a sign that it contains vitamin C (ascorbic acid).
Indeed, the vitamin C content in iru is quite high and this makes it a good source of this vital vitamin.
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This vitamin helps in immune boosting. Furthermore, it helps the body fight free radicals that could cause cancer or other forms of illnesses.
As often as you can, add iru to your diet if you want your immune system to be strong.
Anti-bacterial Anti-viral Properties
Tannin is another antioxidant that is in iru.
It helps to remove harmful microbes from the body, and fight against harmful bacteria, viruses and fungi
A study found tannins as a natural defense mechanism against microbial infections.
Also, “tannins have also been reported to exert other physiological effects, such as to accelerate blood clotting, reduce blood pressure, decrease the serum lipid level, produce liver necrosis, and modulate immunoresponses”.
However, the research also warned that the dosage and kind of tannins are critical to these effects.
Hydrocyanic acid (HCN) in iru is another antioxidant that is great for its function of helping your bone stay strong.
As you age, the bones become weaker, requiring an adjustment in diet. Adding iru to diet will help strengthen your bones.
Other functions of this compound are prevention of bladder pain, relief for dry eye discomfort, soothing feeling for acid reflux symptoms, promoting of wound healing and more.
Kindly share with your friends and loved ones to help them know the health benefits of locust beans.