African oil bean seed, scientifically called Pentaclethra macrophylla, is one of the many tropical under-utilized crops that are recently attracting worldwide attention because of its high nutrient. It is a native plant in the tropical regions of Africa. The oil bean tree is mainly found in rainforests southern West Africa where they grow wildly. The tree grows the oil bean leaf or flowers between March -April and June – November. What the Igbo people of Nigeria call ‘ugba or ukpaka’ is the fermented African oil been. It is a popular traditional food condiment among the southern and southern-eastern tribes. The oil bean seed is found in the fruit of the oil bean tree. The fruit is black, hard and with woody pod. When it is mature, it splits open revealing up to 8 flat, brown and shiny seeds.
Nutritional Values of the African Oil Bean Seeds
African oil bean seed is an excellent source of energy, protein, amino acids, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, vitamins, calcium, manganese and copper. It is also an excellent source of phytonutrients such as tannins, alkaloids, flavonoids, sterols, glycosides and saponins. Notwithstanding the high nutritional content of the African oil bean seeds, studies reveal that the fermentation process which they undergo before consumption usually eradicates most of these minerals and vitamins such as phosphorus.
Animal Feed Production
African oil bean seeds are a rich source of nutrients. They contain amino acids, minerals, proteins and fatty acids. These nutrients have been proven essential for use in the production of animal feeds especially when fortified (enriched). Animal feed is important for continuous breeding of healthy animals in animal farms. Healthy animals equal healthy animal produce.
African oil beans contain properties that control body weight. This, in turn, helps to control obesity. The oil bean plant is a rich source of phytoestrogens which can be taken as a nutritional and vitamin supplement for controlling overweight and obesity.
Dermatologic and Beauty Purposes:
African oil beans contain anti-inflammatory properties which reduce inflammation in the body. It has been recorded that both the bark and seeds can be used for producing local ointment for treating itches, insects bites, cuts, and wounds. The vitamin component in the oil bean seed rejuvenates and feeds the skin to achieve utmost beauty results.
Lowers Cholesterol Level:
The oil bean seed effectively lowers cholesterol. Saponin reduces plasma cholesterol which will benefit the heart providing healthier blood channel and body.
Reduces the Risk of Cataract:
Cataract is a common vision or eye diseases caused by the deficiencies of certain vitamins and minerals. Studies have shown oil bean seed to contain some active compounds that could help prevent cataract.
Contains Anti-Bacterial Agents:
Bacteria cause many common infections such as pneumonia, wound infections, bloodstream infections (sepsis) and so on. Saponins and alkaloids are two active compounds found in oil bean seed that are excellent anti-bacterial agents. The combinations of these active compounds could be used to fight some bacteria.