With the growing trend of eating healthy, globally, more so here in Zimbabwe, many may have wondered about the health benefits of nyimo (round nuts). I, in particular, have made a decision to eat healthier, following my adaptation of the 80:20 rule! (where 80% of the time you have wholesome, nutritious foods, then the remaining 20% you have your culinary indulgences, lol :D). I’m not going at it alone though! My family is in too! It dawned on me how important it is, especially for the lady/man of the house, to feed your family well. It has been said you are what you eat! So let’s feed ourselves, our loved ones, families and friends with healthy food.
Nyimo, indlubu, also known as Round nuts, Bambara Groundnuts, Jugo Beans, etc) are a popular part of the Zimbabwean cuisine (although originally from West Africa). They are usually prepared by boiling to have as a pass time snack. As you may have known already, nyimo (like most legumes) are a good source of protein as well as fibre, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, folate, potassium, iron, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium. What are all these minerals and how do they benefit your body, you may be wondering. We’ll see their amazing properties in each of the nyimo health benefits that I’m going to list and briefly talk about below.
Promote Heart Health
Because nyimo are a low-fat and high fibre food, they help reduce the risk of many diseases including heart disease. They promote the good health of your heart by lowering your blood cholesterol through the soluble fibre that is found in them. Blood pressure is also lowered when you have legumes such as nyimo in your diet. A regulated blood pressure means you’re lowering your risk of heart disease. Nyimo are a rich source of several vitamins and minerals that are associated with improved heart health. Due to this fact, it is good to add them to your diet. Several studies have shown that diets that include legumes reduce the risk of coronary diseases by a whooping 82%.
Treatment of anaemia
There’s a time after the births of my first two children that I struggled with anaemia. If only I knew back then what I know now! I seriously despise taking medications! I only take them when it’s a do a die situation or I can’t deal with the pain anymore! So taking iron pill supplements was just horrible for me. I did try do some research on iron rich foods and focused mostly on leafy greens which I did add to my diet. Nyimo and nuts in general are rich in iron. Iron helps to boost blood levels in the body. Therefore, having nyimo in your diet will be fantastic in the management of anaemia. (I’m okay now by the way, in case you were wondering!)
Management of Diabetes
Are you diabetic or have someone in your life who is? Did you know that the nutrient protein, among other things, helps to stabilize your blood sugar levels? Due to their fairly high protein composition, nyimo can be added to the diet of those who are diabetic to help manage it.
Protein, magnesium and calcium are important minerals needed in the body to fight or prevent arthritis. Being a food rich in all of these, nyimo are ideal to add to your diet. The nutrients found in them will facilitate the healing of broken bones as well as prevent bone weakness and fractures.It’s therefore better to be safe than sorry and safeguard against arthritis and enjoy legumes such as nyimo!
Help Maintain and Lose Weight
For the most part of my adulthood thus far, I had been underweight and I so badly wanted some flesh on my bones!! That is until 3 years ago, after my 3rd daughter I did gain the weight. I was ecstatic to say the least! Then the weight was gradually increasing and I wasn’t as thrilled any longer! I needed to lose the extra weight, lol. I learnt that protein rich foods such as nyimo help you to maintain your ideal weight and or lose weight. This is because they make you stay fuller for longer, which will keep the hunger pangs at bay and prevent you from snacking unnecessarily or overeating. You know the adage- a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips? Well, you don’t have to worry about that when you eat nyimo (with some moderation of course)!
Due to their high content of protein, carbohydrates, calories and varying minerals that boost the growth of the body, nyimo are a good food source in the management of malnutrition, especially in children.
Promote Healthy Brain Function and Learning
High protein composition and amino acids in the nyimo attribute to this important health benefit.The brain requires a steady supply of amino acids in order to keep concentration, focus and energy levels up. Studies show that when amino acid deprivation takes place, learning and coordination suffers, but once all necessary amino acids are reintroduced into the diet, learning and motor skills improve. I’m not getting any younger by the day so I need this brain food in my life!
When one has diarrhea, important minerals are lost from the body leading to weakness. Because nyimo are a nutrient-rich food, they can help replace the minerals that the body loses during diarrhea. It however is also important to remain as hydrated as possible by taking ORSs (Oral Rehydration Salts) such as the good old sugar and salt solution which is basically 6 level teaspoons of sugar plus 1/2 level teaspoon of salt dissolved in 1 litre of clean water. Measurements have to be exact as too much sugar would make the diarrhea worse and too much salt will be harmful to the body!
Lack of sleep
Nyimo are a natural remedy for insomnia. Yes you read right! This is because they contain amino acids that stimulate release of a neurotransmitter known as serotonin. It is released from the brain, thereby bringing about mental calmness that leads to ability to fall asleep! So try adding nyimo to your diet if you have trouble sleeping. As with many natural remedies, you need to bear in mind that it’s not a quick fix! The benefits may be reaped down the line if you’re consistent.
So nyimo, as tiny and humble as they are, are packed with nutrients and minerals that have numerous benefits for our bodies. Where can you find them? Well, if you’re in Zimbabwe, they are widely available in the supermarkets, packed (at the healthy foods section or where you’d normally find sugar beans, popcorn, etc). You will also sometimes find them at the fruit and veg section in some supermarkets in baskets/buckets and you grab how much of them you want. You can also find them at your local farmers’ market. such as Mbare musika if you’re in Harare, if in Kwekwe or if in Bulawayo, etc. If you’re outside of Zimbabwe try checking supermarkets, farmers’ markets or the Indian corner stores.
When you do get your nyimo, indlubu, roundnuts, bambara groundnuts, below are some recipes of how you can prepare them.