When it comes to food in Africa and Ghana especially, nothing can be compared to the impeccable taste of the well-seasoned meal. The mixture from sweet to savory to spicy and so on all comes from the various natural herbs and spices that can be found all around the place. The natural spices that contribute to making these delicious meals also produce a lot of health benefits.
Most of these spices are either planted in the homes or purchased from the local market and are preserved by drying, freezing and so many other ways.
List of Spices with Their Local Names and Health Benefits.
A majority of the spices used in Ghana are popularly referred to with their local names (mostly in Twi, Fante, or Ga) due to the familiarity with the traders and natives. Aside from knowing the health benefits, it is important to know the local names of these spices to help your shopping and make it easier. Below is a list of some spices and herbs frequently used in Ghana:
Mint is known in Twi as “Nunum”. It is used stewing meat and in a variety of dishes for its aroma. Mint is rich in nutrients like potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin C, iron, and vitamin A, and in the diet, it is most beneficial as a replacement for salty, sugary, or calorific flavorings. Mint helps relieve indigestion, It improves brain function, may relieve breastfeeding pain, improves cold, and masks bath breathe.
It is easy to add to your diet and also a potent source of antioxidants that help protect your body from oxidative stress, a type of damage to cells caused by free radicals.
Cloves is one of the most commonly used spices and it is known in Twi as “pepre/ dadoa mba” and “mbrego amba” amongst the fantes. Cloves are commonly used in spice blends for meat rubs and marinades. Whole or ground cloves are also used to flavor sauces, soups, and rice dishes. Cloves contain important nutrients like manganese and vitamin K. It boosts our health by protecting us against cancer, kills bacteria, improves liver health, reduces stomach ulcers, promotes bone health, and helps regulate blood sugar.
- ANISE SEEDS
Anise seeds are referred to as “Nkitikiti” by the Twi people and “Osu kon” by the Ga people. Iron, Manganese, and Calcium. It lends a licorice flavor to baked goods and other foods. It has anti-fungal, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties and may fight stomach ulcers, keep blood sugar levels in check and reduce symptoms of depression and menopause.
Basil is known to a majority of Ghanaians as “Akokobesa” which is a Twi word. Basil provides some macronutrients such as calcium and vitamin K. Basil is used for stomach spasms, loss of appetite, intestinal gas, kidney conditions, fluid retention, head colds, warts, and worm infections. It is also used to treat snake and insect bites. Basil promotes blood circulation after childbirth and also starts the flow of breast milk.
- UDA SEEDS (GRAINS OF SELIM OR NEGRO PEPPER)
Uda Seeds (Grains of Selim or Negro Pepper) is called “Soh” in Ga and “Hwentia/Ahentia” in Twi. It has anti-inflammatory purposes packed with antioxidants. Uda Seeds is a great remedy for dermatological problems, treating respiratory system diseases, preventing/treating malaria, keeping rheumatism at bay, relieving gastrointestinal problems, and might be used to treat menstrual problems.
- BLACK PEPPERCORNS OR WEST AFRICAN BLACK PEPPER
It is called “Esoro Wisa” in Twi, “Wie Din” in Ga, and “Masoro” in Hausa, and “Kale” in Ewe. Black Peppercorns can be used whole, crushed, or ground to add heat and flavor to cooking. It helps in losing weight, detoxifying your body, preventing cancer, cleansing your intestines and stomach. It also consists of potassium that helps in regulating heart rate and high blood pressure and helps in producing red blood cells and rich in vitamin B and produces calcium.
- GUINEA PEPPER OR GRAINS OF PARADISE
Guinea Pepper is popularly known as “Efom Wisa” in Twi, “Tsuruin” in Ga, and “Essa” in Nzema. The spice has a characteristic pungent flavor, and medicinally, it is used for its anti-microbial and aphrodisiac properties.
- AFRICAN NUTMEG
African Nutmeg is known as “Wedie Abain” and “Awerewain” in Twi. It gives an aromatic flavor to food. African nutmeg is rich in potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, zinc, copper, magnesium, and vital B-complex vitamins, including vitamin C, folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin A and many essential flavonoid anti-oxidants. It can reverse liver toxicity induced by high cholesterol diets.
- SCOTCH BONNET PEPPER
Scotch bonnet pepper is referred to as “Kpakposhito”. It gives food a spicy taste. Scotch bonnet peppers are an excellent source of phytochemicals, vitamin A, vitamin C (ascorbic acid), iron, vitamin B, carotenoids, niacin, riboflavin, dietary fiber, flavonoids, and magnesium. The roots of the pepper tree are also known to be used for the treatment of asthma.
- CHILLI PEPPERS OR AFRICAN BIRD PEPPER
Chili Peppers are known as “Misewa” in Twi and “Akweley Waawabi”. it is rich in phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, Vitamin C, and Vitamin A. The Health Benefits of Chili pepper include improves digestive health and metabolism, alleviates migraines, may reduce risks of cancer, fights fungal infections, colds, and the flu, provides joint pain relief, fights inflammation, supports cardiovascular health, may improve cognitive functions, may improve longevity.
Written by Precious Ann Yeboah/Georgeweb.org