Home NUTRITION THERAPYFOODS HEALTH BENEFITS OF SUKUMA WIKI / COLLARD GREEN

HEALTH BENEFITS OF SUKUMA WIKI / COLLARD GREEN

by Philemon kwizera, RN
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What is Sukuma wiki

Sukuma wiki is most known as collard green in English and mistakenly called kale, they are dark green loose-leaf greens. Like lettuce, broccoli, kale and cabbage; they belong to the cruciferous family. Sukuma wiki is a form of a cabbage where green leaves do not form a head.

It is an East African plant mostly common in Kenya by 90% of small-scale farmers but is welcomed well here in Rwanda due to its nutritious value on top of that it is very easy to grow in a variety of climates, and it tastes good and is healthy when it is very well managed.

Sukuma wiki means to push the week in the Swahili language because it had been used mainly by the poor people because it was easily available, especially during the famine and could be eaten every week, especially in Kenya but due to the improvised way of cooking by the addition of meat, other vegetables or pulse it has been accepted by the whole society

Health benefits of Sukuma wiki

Sukuma wiki/ collard green is very rich in many vitamins (beta-carotene, vitamin K and vitamin C) minerals (iron, phosphorus, magnesium and calcium), and antioxidants which reduce oxidative stress by combating free radicals in your body (Lutein, zeaxanthin phenols, polyphenols, and alpha-lipoic acid) and fibres. Eating it regularly might reduce your risk of developing certain diseases.

The vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and dietary fiber found in collard greens provide significant health benefits:

  1. The soluble dietary fibers found in Sukuma wiki are important for helping maintain your digestive health and can help absorb cholesterol before it makes its way into your bloodstream, on top of that feeds the good bacteria in your gut, which can help you digest foods more efficiently.
  2. Sukuma wiki is rich in antioxidants such as phenols, polyphenols, and alpha-lipoic acid which possess anti-cancer properties, particularly lowering the risk of prostate, breast and lung cancer
  3. People with a high risk of osteoporosis such as older people or women reached menopause should regularly consume Sukuma wiki to get calcium and vitamin K, both of which are important for bone health, instead of dairy products. Dairy products such as milk, cheese, and ice cream in particular are highly acidic, but the body prefers a more balanced and slightly alkaline PH to neutralize the acidity, your body pulls calcium from the bones. Better calcium sources include leafy green vegetables such as Sukuma wiki, broccoli, beans, almonds and sesame seeds. 
  4. Prevent Birth Defects like spina bifida occurs when a developing baby’s spinal cord fails to develop or close properly while in the womb. In Rwanda, pregnant women are recommended to take food rich in folate, and they take folate as a supplement but Sukuma wiki is the best natural source of folate.
  5. Sukuma wiki improves the human immune system and prevents the attacks of invading bacteria and viruses due to provide vitamin A and vitamin C helps keep your blood cells healthy, and vitamin A is important for T-cells

Preparing Sukuma wiki

The Sukuma wiki leaves like broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflowers are utilised mainly alone or in a mixture with other vegetables, meat, omelettes, pulses and as soup in peanuts to increase the nutritional values. They contain a tough stem and center rib that many people prefer to remove before eating.

Other ingredients include tomatoes and onions to increase the flavour, Sukuma wiki normally takes ten to fifteen minutes in the stove and is then served with ugali, rice or potatoes alongside beans and Sukuma wiki can be mixed with beans with other ingredients such as tomatoes, onion and eggplant.

They’re easy to enjoy fresh in salads, smoothies, sandwiches

You can use Sukuma wiki as salads or eat raw by washing them then, De-stem and chopping them

After placing the strips in a large bowl then add olive massage the oil and salt into the strips with your hands until all pieces are well coated after pour vinegar (apple cider or lemon) or fresh lemon dressing over the Sukuma wiki strips, add tomatoes, onions or other vegetables as you wish. Let marinate, particularly in the refrigerator, for at least 2-4 hours

When olive oil is available you can use avocado to better absorb the vitamins such as vitamin A, E and K

Storing Sukuma wiki

If you choose to freeze your Sukuma wiki, first wash them and cut off the woody stems, pre-washing before storing vegetables, to prevent the microbes from growing, after washing, drain the water well, and package your Sukuma wiki in plastic freezer bags. Remove as much air as possible from the bags. Remember to date and label your bags for up to about 5 days. You’ll need to wash them when you are ready to cook them.  If there is no refrigerator you can pack them in plastic bags and then store them in a safe place.

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