The vegetable “Oha” or “Ora” is a household Nigerian vegetable used in the preparation of the popular delicacy called OHA soup.
Scientifically named Pterocarpus mildbraedii, OHA is a good source of many beneficial nutrients and phytochemicals. “It has ANTIOXIDANT, HYPOCHOLESTEROLEMIC, CHEMOPROTECTIVE and ANTIBACTERIAL properties.” (Ujowundu etal, 2010)
• ANTIOXIDANTS remove all potentially damaging oxidizing agents in living organisms.
• HYPOCHOLESTEROLEMIC agents lower cholesterol level in the blood.
• CHEMOPROTECTIVE herb or substance protects healthy tissues from the side effects of certain anticancer drugs.
OHA is rich in minerals such as calcium, iron, copper, zinc magnesium, potassium, and manganese and vitamins like A, B1, B2, B5, B6 and C.
In the research work titled; “Identification of Phytochemicals Present in the Leaves of Pterocarpus mildbraedii”, Rosemary I. Uchegbu etal, 2015 concluded:
“..results of the investigation have revealed that the leaves of Pterocarpus mildbraedii are not only palatable in soup but also very medicinal. All the phytochemicals present in the leaves proved that the plant could serve as ANTI-INFLAMMATORY, ANTI-OXIDANT, ANTI-TUMOR and ANTIMICROBIAL agent. The leaves of Pterocarpus mildbraedii could be used in the treatment of diseases such as CANCER, LIVER, KIDNEY, HEART DISEASES, ARTHRITIS, CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE and DIABETES. The nutritional and health benefits of the leaves of Pterocarpus mildbraedii have proved the plant to be a potential source of useful drugs and quality food.”
OHA leaves are rich in fibers and also contain amino acids like glutamic acid, lysine and cysteine.
• This amino acid acts as fuel to the brain cells.
• It is involved in the metabolism of ammonia.
• It assists in the treatment of alcoholism.
• It is required for adequate calcium absorption.
• It checks the proliferation of viruses with antioxidants like Vitamin A, C and Zinc.
• It assists in tissue repair.
• It prevents the development of pneumonia.
• It assists stomach function.
• It helps in lowering high serum triglyceride level.
• Helps promote white blood cells production.
• It improves skin texture.
• Assist patients suffering from serious respiratory diseases.
• It prevents lungs, liver and brain damage.
• Helps the body to combat free radicals.
OHA vegetable appears to be one of the underutilized vegetable plants considering its immense health benefits and potentials.
Now see to it that, at least, OHA soup becomes a more regular home meal; that way, its health values will not elude you totally .
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Dr Gilbert Ezengige is a licensed natural medicine practitioner, lecturer and writer on health and social issues.