ukwa and pregnancy

African breadfruit popularly known as “UKWA”  is a highly nutritious meal which if added to daily food could help build the immune system. Ukwa, African breadfruit, is not a popular meal amongst non-igbos. The African breadfruit botanically known as “Treculia Africana”, is rich in so many nutrients and is commonly eaten by the Igbo people of southeastern Nigeria. The African breadfruit Ukwa is very much appreciated and valued due to its health benefits. In most occasions where Ukwa meal is served, it usually turns out to be the peoples choice, before the English and Foreign dishes.

Ukwa is commonly called “Afon by the Yoruba; Ize in Benin, Jekri, Ediang in Efik and Sobo in Ijaw. Breadfruits have excellent benefits to human health and total well being. It can be consumed in cooked form, baked or fried. Either which way provides heart-friendly nutrients and other wonderful whole nutrients. Generally, Breadfruit roots, leaves, and latex are used to make medicine for arthritis, asthma, back pain, diabetes, fever, gout, high blood pressure, liver disease, and toothaches. Breadfruit latex is taken by mouth for diarrhea and stomach pain. ALSO READ: Complete List of Foreign and Local NGOs in Nigeria


Benefits of breadfruit during pregnancy

What a woman eats and drinks during pregnancy is her baby’s main source of nourishment. So, nutritionist recommend that a mother-to-be should eat nutrient dense foods to provide the important nutrients a baby needs for growth and development. This delicious food crop provides the body with protein, essential minerals and other nutrients.

Protein forms an essential component of a healthy diet in humans to support both growth and maintenance. Research has shown that during pregnancy, an exceptional stage of life defined by rapid growth and development, adequate dietary protein is crucial to ensure a healthy outcome. Protein deposition in maternal and fetal tissues increases throughout pregnancy, with most occurring during the third trimester. Ukwa is a rich source of protein (12.5% crude protein), plant base protein are highly recommended during pregnancy because during this period, it’s harder for your body to digest animal protein, which could cause discomfort since your digestive system slows down as the pregnancy progresses. Therefore, increasing plant protein during pregnancy is encouraged!

See: Traditional Birth Attendants in Nigeria

There are few times you hear more about the importance of iron than during pregnancy. But have you ever wondered why this mineral is so crucial? Your body uses iron to make hemoglobin, a substance in red blood cells that transports oxygen throughout your body. During pregnancy, your body supplies blood and oxygen to your baby, so the demand for iron goes up to keep up with the increase in blood supply. In fact, you need about twice the amount of iron—27 mg per day—than you do when you’re not pregnant. Consuming Ukwa will help you meet the recommended daily intake of iron. According to the Journal of food chemistry, the plant is also a good source of Vitamins B1, B2, C, and β-carotene. ALSO READ: Nigerian Foods and Beverages to Avoid During Pregnancy

Nutrient                                                      Importance

Vitamin C (80 – 85 mg*, daily max = 2000 mg) An antioxidant that protects tissues from damage and helps body absorb iron; builds healthy immune system


Thiamin/B1 (1.4 mg) Raises energy level and regulates nervous system


Riboflavin/B2 (1.4 mg) Maintains energy, good eyesight, healthy skin


Iron (27 mg) Helps in the production of hemoglobin; prevents anemia, low birth weight, and premature delivery


Side Effects & Safety

There are few information on the safety of breadfruit or ukwa in pregnancy and the likely side effects associated. However, there is concern that breadfruit might increase the risk of bleeding. As a result, you are advised not to eat breadfruit if you have a bleeding disorder. The food might also cause allergic reactions in people sensitive to bananas or Benjamin fig. See: Healthy Nigerian Meals Time Table



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