Bitter leaf is a leafy green plant that contains high amounts of iron and is used in cooking different types of soups and stews in Nigeria. This leaf thereby functions as a vegetable when it is being cooked and eaten as food.
The scientific name of this plant is Vernonia amygdalina, it is known as Ewuro to the Yorubas, Onugbuby the Igbos and Chusa-doki by the Hausas.
It is known for its characteristic bitter taste which turns sweet after a while. Every part of this plant is bitter even though its bitterness is highly beneficial to the body. It is also known for its medicinal purposes and is often used as a home remedy in the treatment of certain ailments.
There are so many health benefits accrued to bitter leaf and it would be awesome for people to include it more in their diets in order to promote healthy living. Luckily for Nigerians, this plant grows almost everywhere; some people have it in their compounds as weeds while some plant it.
Bitter leaf could also be used in giving life lessons; the bitter-sweet taste of the plant shows the amount of hard work and toil people have to put into their dreams in order for them to reap a bounty harvest. This means that bitterness comes before sweetness.
Find below some of the health benefits of taking bitter leaf:
1. Useful in toning vital organs
The liver is one of the most important organs in the body, there are many vital functions that it performs. It is the largest organ in the body and it helps in the production of bile acid which is important for fat metabolism.
Bitter leaf helps in maintaining the liver as it helps it to function properly. The liver is a delicate organ that should not be damaged, it is healthy for people with liver problems to drink water boiled with the bitter leaf.
2. Helps in the control of cholesterol
Including bitter leaf in your diet would help you reduce the cholesterol in your body. High level of cholesterol promotes Alzheimer, stroke and heart attack.
This means consuming bitter leaf would help reduce the bad cholesterol (LDL) while increasing the good cholesterol.
3. Helps to fight breast cancer
Ten out of hundred women are at risk of having breast cancer; in order to reduce the chances of developing breast cancer, it is important to maintain a healthy weight and be physically active.
Including bitter leaf in your diet can help lessen the risk of breast cancer. Bitter leaf also increases breast milk production in nursing mothers.
4. High in antioxidants
There are some antioxidant properties contained in bitter leaf. When this plant is being cooked and eaten, it helps fight diseases. It would also help reduce the growth of precancerous cells that may be found due to oxidation.
5. It aids digestion
Bitter leaf (like every other vegetable) can assist the body with digestion as it contains fibre. It could also be used as a purgative when stomach problems like constipation are being experienced. It also helps the body to get rid of worms.
6. Helps in the treatment of fever
Bitter leaf can help in the treatment of fever; the juice is being extracted by squeezing the leaves. Taking this would help reduce pain and help the body to function well.
7. Essential for skin treatment
Bitter leaf contains some antibiotic and anti-fungal properties that could help cure skin diseases. Skin reactions like ringworm, eczema could be treated using bitter leaf.
8. Helps in detoxifying the body
Another importance of bitter leaf lies in its cleansing ability. It could be used to cleanse the body and also as a cure for piles.
9. Regulation of sugar level
Diabetic patients can take bitter leaf as it helps in the regulation of sugar level in the blood. It also helps repair impaired pancreas as it helps the pancreas to release the right amount of insulin needed to maintain the right sugar level in the blood. The juice from this leaf is highly beneficial to the body.
10. Helps in weight loss
Those who are interested in shedding weight can take bitter leaf as it helps in increasing metabolism which is highly helpful in maintaining a healthy weight.