Who among us does not know what an Alugbati is? And how come this leafy vegetable is now one of the solutions in fighting malnutrition? Let’s all be amazed by what Alugbati can offer, not just as one of the ingredients in Ginisang Munggo. Basella alba or commonly known as Alugbati is a succulent, branched, twining herbaceous, perennial plant that is cultivated as a vegetable. The serving size of 44 grams provides 10 calories. It provides 50 µg of Vitamin B9, 0.65 mg of Iron, 55 mg of Calcium, 0.049 mg of Copper and 21 mg of Magnesium. Malabar spinach is rich in Vitamin B9 and other proteins as well as minerals. Micronutrient deficiency is one of the biggest problem in health and nutrition and is defined as a lack of essential vitamins and minerals required in small amounts by the body for proper growth and development.
The continuous rising of malnutrition cases leads a group of researchers from the University of the Philippines, Davao City to develop Alugbati noodles as one good way to fight malnutrition. They successfully innovated the typical egg noodles that we have today. Based on their researchers’ findings, substituting the flour with 15% powdered alugbati leaves yielded the most favorable product. Most of the panelists who participated in the study even described the formulation as “tasty and delicious.” “The ‘alugbati’ egg noodles with 15% substitution level had significantly higher ash (2.27 ± 0.28), fiber (1.77 ± 0.38), and protein (11.50 ± 0.11) contents compared to the control,” concluded the researchers. They also noted the possibility of incorporating the alugbati leaf powder into other products that need vitamin A fortification, due to its relatively high total carotenoid content (TCC).
Aside from these mind-blowing information, Alugbati is also an excellent source of iron, calcium, Vitamin C and Vitamin A. It contains high protein and great source of phosphorus and potassium. It has great number of antioxidants such as lutein and beta carotene. Here are 7 healthy benefits of Alugbati:
- Healthy heart. Folate is essential to reduce the homocysteine level which is present in the blood. Homocysteine increases the chances of strokes and heart attacks. Folate helps to convert the homocysteine into methionine which normalizes the level of homocysteine. It has a positive role in metabolizing minerals as well as antioxidant activities. The studies have shown that high intake of folate reduces the chances of cardiovascular disease.
- Treats depression. The intake of folate with adequate amount of veggies as well as plant foods helps to treat the depression naturally. The high intake of folate helps to lower the depression significantly in depressed patients.
- Prevent dementia. The studies show that high levels of homocysteine increase the chances of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The low amount of folate in the body leads to poor mental activities. The folic acid decreases the level of homocysteine, but it has not been proven that it improves the cognitive function and forbid diseases. The addition of diet rich in folate and nutrients helps to treat the Alzheimer’s disease.
- Treatment for cancer. The low presence of folate in the body increases the chances of colon, cervical, breast, lung, and brain cancer. The evidence has shown that the diet rich in folate protects from cancer development. One should intake the natural forms of Vitamin because the pharmaceutical form of vitamin differs from natural ones which provide the protection.
- Utilizes amino acids, iron and vitamin B12. Anemia is also one of the causes of folate deficiency. It is the health condition where the red blood cells are formed improperly. Folate assists in the absorption of Vitamin B12 which helps to absorb the nutrients, brain function, and provides energy.
- Pregnancy. Folate is one of the vital vitamins which is required to having a healthy pregnancy. The deficiency of folate results in neural tube defects such as anencephaly, spina bifida, limb malformations and heart ailments. Folate is vital for copying DNA and builds the new cells. Low levels of folate lead to developments issues which remain after birth as well. Leafy greens, avocados, sprouted beans and citrus are the folate rich foods which one should intake during pregnancy.
- Provides energy. Anemia is the result of iron deficiency. The low amount of iron results in low hemoglobin due to which adequate amount of oxygen could not be transported to the cells. The iron deficiency leads to poor mental function, lack of energy and apathy. Children and pre-menopausal women are in high chances of suffering from anemia if they do not consume the foods iron rich foods.
Truly nature has lots to offer, and one proof of that is Alugbati. Let’s all give credit to this information and disseminate it to our friends and family. Remember that consuming natural foods like fruits and vegetables can really make us healthy and help us fight diseases. Dig in and be healthy!
NOI Zamubec Alomar C. Adlawan
- Malabar spinach – Basella alba
- Micronutrient Deficiency
- Mindanao Researchers Develop Vitamin A-Rich Noodles with Alugbati Flour
(Published on June 22, 2020 by Mikael Angelo Francisco)
- Health benefits of Malabar spinach