African Locust Beans ( Parkia biglobosa) looks nothing like what we might consider a vegetable plant to be. It is a tree, a giant tree. It often grows more than 20 meters tall, and people harvest all the pods they can get, sometimes climbing to the top.
Locust beans are attractive trees, with dramatically spreading crowns and clusters of bright red flowers dangling like holiday decorations on long stalks.
The pulp is yellowish and is very sweet. Many people lick the yellow pulp and dispose of the seed; Little do they know that the seed is more useful and nutritious.
African Locust bean seed is a popular West African Seasoning. It’s called DawaDawa in Hausa, Ogiri okpei in Igbo, Iru in Yoruba, Eware in Edo, Sumbala in Mali & Guinea, and Ntetou in Senegal. The seeds are soaked and allowed to ferment to get the intense aroma that it gives.
The flavourful seasoning is a rich source of protein, vitamins, and food energy. It Is often used in the preparation of delicacies like concoction rice, ofe ugba, stew, gbegiri, scent leaf soup, egusi, and ofada sauce.
Health Benefits of African Locust Beans.
Controls Cholesterol and Blood Sugar Levels:
African Locust beans contain soluble fiber, which helps to control sugar level and reduce cholesterol levels. Hence, diabetic patients should consider including locust beans in their meals to stay healthy. The water and alcoholic extracts of fermented locust bean is used to reduce blood sugar
Controls Blood Pressure:
The fruits and leaves contain procyanidin, which is proven to reduce blood pressure. A decoction of the bark is used traditionally in treating high blood pressure.
Aids Digestive System:
The regular consumption of African Locust Bean is excellent for the digestive system. The lipids found in locust beans are needed to transport vitamins A, D, E & K from the intestines to the bloodstream to ensure proper absorption and digestion of food nutrients. In traditional medicine, The barks are macerated (infused or soaked in liquid) for the treatment and prevention of gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea and stomach ulcer.
The bark of Iru can be crushed, ground, soaked, and boiled for preparation of a herbal tea used to aid the healing of wounds.
Locust beans are rich in Vitamin A, which helps to build a good vision, prevents blindness, and reduce the risks of eye infections like, cataract, and glaucoma.
Boosts immune system:
Another reason you should add locusts beans to your diet is to boost your immune system. Locus beans contain zinc, a trace element that makes you less susceptible to disease and illness. African locust bean is useful in boosting the immune system in immunocompromised individuals.
Locust beans contain calcium, which contributes to the proper development of teeth. The bark is boiled and used as a mouth wash, and it also prevents toothache. The twigs are also used as a toothbrush in Niger.
Treatment of Respiratory Infections:
African Locust beans can be macerated and used for the treatment of pneumonia, cough, and bronchitis. It also treats cold and Fever
Your body uses protein to build and repair tissues. You also use protein to make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals. Locust beans are an excellent source of protein, which serves as an essential building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood.
African Locust beans can be soaked and used in bathing individuals with skin infections like Leprosy and sores. It can also be applied to the skin to soothe burns.
Locust beans contain aphrodisiac properties, which means it boosts sexual desire (libido). The zinc property in it increases testosterone levels and improves potency.
According to research, Parkia biglobosa is useful in the treatment of malaria. The leaves, pods, stems, and bark can be macerated and used as a herbal remedy for malaria.
The oil from locust bean contains high saponification value, which makes it very useful in soap making. The oil and pod ash are normally used for making soap.
How to preserve African Locust Beans:
Iru can be preserved in any way possible, soaked in water, salted, dried, and refrigerated. If you feel it has lost its intense aroma, you can always soak it in hot water again before use.
People also preserve it in moi moi/banana leaves. Keeping it in this leaf gives it a unique taste and smell when in use. This leaf is healthy and completely gives a different taste when used. The nutritional value of the leaf adds up with that of the iru; in other words, making your iru healthier and better.