Dika Nut (Ogbono)

credits: www.nap.edu

Dika nuts are the seed kernels of the fruits of the Bush mango or wild mango tree. It is also called Dika bread, Gabon chocolate, Apon and Ogbono. Dika nut is indigenous to the West Africa and it is the key ingredient in Ogbono soup, a soup which was indigenous to the South eastern part of Nigeria but has become a part of many food cultures all over Nigeria.

About 60% of the seed kernel is oil. Most of the oil is saturated unlike Egusi which contains mostly polyunsaturated oils. The saturated oil is about 50% lauric acid (type of fatty acid in coconut) and 40% myristic acid. It contains small quantity of Monounsaturated fatty acids.  The oil has been used in times past for making soap, cosmetics and in pharmaceuticals. A study suggested that it can also be used as an alternative to margarine since it does not contain trans-fat.

credits: en.wikipedia.org

100G of dehulled Ogbono seed will give about 687kcal of energy, protein of 8.7g, 62g of fat, and 21.9g of carbohydrate. It also contains really small amounts of iron, potassium, sodium and zinc and it is reported rich in beta-carotene.

For the protein (Amino acid composition), it contains essential amino acids lysine, tryptophan, valine, threonine, isoleucine, and phenylalanine. Methionine and cysteine are deficient. It also contains low antinutrients.

Ogbono forms a mucilaginous ‘drawing’ soup and it can be eaten by children as well as adults. When it is used in cooking, dried shrimps, locust beans (iru), peppers, fish, and some other condiments and ingredients are usually added to the pot of soup to get a nutritious food.

Other goodness in Ogbono is its phytochemical components. It has some phytochemicals such as ellagic acid, Quercetin-3-O-rhamnoside, and Kaempferol-3-O-glucoside. Phytochemicals are known to be beneficial to health.

Consuming Ogbono being mostly saturated fats can be worrisome for a lot of people who are health conscious because some countries’ (e.g. US, Australia) dietary guidelines recommend that consumption of saturated fats should be reduced ( to 10% of calories consumed in one day as in the case of US). The basis of this recommendation is that saturated fats have been linked to heart diseases but some studies have shown that there is not enough evidence to conclude that saturated fat increases heart diseases. Harvard health publications (2015) have stated that meals rich in saturated fat can increase total cholesterol and increase LDL Cholesterol (Bad cholesterol) thus recommending reducing intake of saturated fats to replace with unsaturated fats. On a different note, there is also research to back up the fact that low fat meals do not reduce risk of heart diseases or death due to heart diseases.

100g of Ogbono seed will give about 558kcal (of saturated fats) in a 2,000kcal consumed per day; this is above the recommended 10%. However, a 100g of Ogbono (dehulled seeds) when processed would be too much to consume for one person per day and thus will not be up to 10% of saturated fats unless other meals taken are also high in saturated fats.

The smartest thing to do to avoid getting caught in the web of science is to eat a variety of meals; of course focusing on the specific foods that are certain to bring you better health like fruits and vegetables. This way, you can get the best of everything (food) and stay healthy. So, you can enjoy your Ogbono soup as one of the MANY soups that you eat.

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