From time immemorial, plants have played a major role in people’s culture via their food, clothes, and medicine, among others. Several plants are utilized widely in Northern Ghana based on their associated health benefits. The major ones are African Locust Bean, Baobab, and Shea which are affectionately called the “three king” plants.
AFRICAN LOCUST BEANS TREE
Parkia biglobosa, also known as the African locust bean or simply known as Dawadawa is synonymous with the Northern part of Ghana. The Dawadawa plant is no exception when it comes to the plants heavily depended on by the people in Northern Ghana. The various parts of the plants are used in various forms and ways in their everyday lives. Aside from being eaten as a fruit when it ripens, the seeds are processed and used to cook all kinds of dishes. Popular among the dishes is the” Dawadawa Jollof” which is fast becoming a delicacy among a lot of tribes in Ghana. In some cultures, in Northern Ghana, the dried pod is processed into a special herb that is used in decorating walls and also preserves the wall from attacks of some insects and harsh weather conditions for a long period. In recent times, the usage of the plant and its related products are spreading across other parts of Ghana and beyond.
The health benefits of Dawadawa are numerous. Prominent among them is that it is rich in nutrients such as protein, iron, carbohydrates, phosphorus, calcium, and fats. Dawadawa is also rich in antioxidants like phenols and flavonoids. Antioxidants protect our body against free radicals and help to prevent metabolic diseases. Again, the Dawaawa plant stabilizes blood pressure. It contains a compound called catechins which promotes dilation of the blood vessels leading to a reduction in blood pressure. Dawadawa is also known to prevent anemia due to the iron it contains.
Another prominent plant used domestically and industrially is the Baobab. It is known scientifically as Adansonia. It is popular for its uses and health benefits. In culinary, its pulp and leaves are used to prepare sumptuous nutritious meals. Studies have proved that it contains many chemicals such as glutamic and aspartic acids which are part of amino acids that contribute to the human body’s general wellbeing. Firstly, Baobab powder is a rich source of vitamin C whose function involves releasing energy, immunity, and healthy glowing skin. Also, baobab powder contains fiber which can improve blood cholesterol and reduce visceral fat. Oils extracted from the seeds of the Baobab smoothen the skin and clear skin infections. These among many others are the health benefits of the Baobab tree.
The Shea tree is mainly known to provide shea butter which is widely used around the world. Two main products from the shea tree are its fruit and the seeds or nuts. The fruits are eaten by both the young and the old. The seeds or nuts are also processed into shea butter which is a major economic activity among the women in Northern Ghana. Shea butter is widely known to be a healing item for several skin issues. It is used as a moisturizer and also as a main ingredient in beauty products. Moreover, shea butter is also used in cooking.
Plants are vital to human life and his or her survival. We must continue to research and study to ascertain those plants that improve our wellbeing and most importantly use them accordingly. The Dawadawa, Baobab and the Shea plant’s usage should be encouraged because of their immense health benefits to humans.