What are the Health Benefits of Ugba?

Nigeria is home to many foods, including yummy delicacies, tasty desserts, traditional spices, and healthy condiments. Ugba food is one of the Nigerian culinary veggies popular among the Igbos, though the meal has spread to many other Nigerian tribes with different names. For instance, the Efiks (another tribe in Nigeria) refer to it as Ukana.

Ugba is called African Oil bean seed in English and botanically named—Pentaclethra macrophylla.  

According to research, Ugba food benefit is not limited to its nutritional content but also cut across its economic values as Ugba production is a common business in the eastern part of Nigeria. 

Whether you’re a lover of Ugba or just want to learn about its benefits, you’re sure on the right page.

Sit tight as this post contains tons of valuable information about Ugba, including its nutritional and economic value.

First, let’s take a look at how Ugba is processed.

How Do You Ferment Ugba?

Before the oil bean seed can be used with other ingredients to make Ugba delicacy, it must first undergo fermentation.

If you are in the eastern part of Nigeria, you can collect the seed from the oil been tree.

After gathering the seed, boil it for about two hours until it’s properly cooked. Afterward, hull the cooked oil bean seed, shred into thin strips, and allow to ferment for about 4 days or more.

To know if the seed is well fermented, the Ugba should be dark-brown. This is opposed to the grayish-white color of an unfermented Ugba.

After Ugba is well fermented, then it can be used to make the Ugba delicacy.

You might wonder if it’s necessary to go through all this process. Well, you don’t have to. You can simply purchase already processed Ugba from Nigerian open markets.

If you’re outside Nigeria, you can find processed Ugba strips in international or African grocery stores.

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What is Ugba Food Made From?

This spicy shredded oil bean is a popular dish in several Nigerian restaurants. It is made from many ingredients, including fermented Ugba.

Below are the ingredients and recipe for Ugba delicacy.


  • 3 handfuls of shredded Ugba (Ukpaka).
  • 1 big stock cube
  • 1 tsp. powdered edible potash (or use baking soda)
  • 1/2 cup palm oil or be generous with the oil if you wish
  • 1 habanero pepper (Atarodo)
  • 10-15 medium-sized crayfish (not Oporo)
  • 2 tablespoons ground crayfish
  • ½ tsp. castor seed paste (Ogiri Igbo)
  • Stockfish
  • Cowskin (Ponmo)
  • Sliced onion and leafy spinach for garnish

Note that the quantity of ingredients used here is mainly for illustration. You can add or lessen the quantity based on your food quantity. 

Before Cooking Ugba

  1. Wash your stockfish and cowskin in clean water.
  2. Pour the powdered potash into 1/2 cup of cold water, mix very well, then use a sieve to remove rough particles and set aside. If you are using baking soda, no need to use a sieve.
  3. Slice your onion and cut the medium-sized crayfish into small chunks as well.
  4. Rinse your Ugba and set aside
  5. Grate your pepper too.

The Healthy Way to Prepare Ugba Delicacy

  1. Add the stockfish and cowskin into a saucepan, and set on heat.
  2. Add 1 big stock cube and cook till done.
  3. Next, transfer the fish and cowskin to a plate and continue cooking the stock until you have as little liquid as possible.
  4. Cut the stockfish and cowskin into small pieces and add them into the mix. You may retain big lumps of both for serving.
  5. Pour your palm oil in another saucepan.
  6. Slowly add the potash (or baking powder) solution into the oil and stir at the same time until the palm oil curdles and you achieve consistency. You can use more palm oil or less. The call is yours to make.
  7. Add the Ogiri Igbo, ground crayfish, medium-sized crayfish, and the chunked meat fish and cowskin into the palm oil solution.
  8. After everything is well mixed with the palm oil, set on heat.
  9. Now add your Ugba, pepper, and the stock.
  10. Allow it to cook for a couple of minutes, then add salt to taste.
  11. When done, garnish Ugba with the sliced onion and spinach.
  12. Your Ugba food is ready!

What Goes Well with Ugba?

Some people often take Ugba with chill beer. You can equally use palm wine to “wash it down.” If you don’t do alcohol, you can also take it with your preferred beverages.

ALSO READ: Is Okpa Protein or Carbohydrate?

Health Benefits of Ugba

According to studies, Ugba seed contains protein, carbohydrates, saturated and unsaturated fatty acids, and more essential nutrients.

Let’s consider a few of these nutrients—to see how beneficial they are.


The crude protein found in Ugba contains 20 amino acids. Protein is one of the three macronutrients that the body needs in large amounts for many activities and processes.

Children, for instance, need an ample supply of protein for growth and development. Certain processes, such as cell and tissue buildup, require a decent amount of protein.

Of the 20 amino acids that make protein, 9 usually come from our foods because the body can only produce 11. With 20 amino acids in its crude protein, Ugba is an excellent protein provider for children.

Is Ugba only beneficial to children? Of course, no! Adults also need this macronutrient.

For example, due to the increasing age and declining health, more protein intake will help older adults with better strength, physical performance, and lean muscle mass.

All in all, incorporating Ugba into your diet is a cheap source and an excellent way to get more protein.


Some often ask whether Ugba contains carbohydrates. According to the research, the seed contains 4 – 17% of carbohydrates, which is an appreciable amount.

As a macronutrient and the body’s primary source of energy, carbohydrate is required in healthy amounts. For example, athletes need enough carbs to make up for muscle glycogen that is lost during physical training.

Older adults are not left out too. To meet with the increasing decline in health, these health seniors must take carbs in the right proportions.

We have to mention that some people often tout carbs as a bad guy when it comes to nutrition. However, experts say a healthy amount of carbs is safe and a must for the human system. 

By including Ugba condiment into the ingredient in the delicacy, you’ll be getting a decent amount of carbs.

ALSO READ: Is it Good to Fry Ripe Plantain?

Other Benefits of Ugba

As you can see from the recipe, Ugba is just one of the other things in the delicacy. The cowskin, stockfish, onion, spinach, palm oil, crayfish, and every other ingredient that goes into this spicy shredded oil bean all have health benefits.

For instance, stockfish and crayfish found in this spicy oil bean are rich in protein. That’s another way to say you’ll be getting protein from multiple sources in the dish.

On an economic level, some people live off Ugba production too. They collect and process the oil bean seed, then sell it.

Ugba Food
Image: Pinterest

Closing Thoughts

Spicy shredded oil bean is a delicious and popular Igbo delicacy. As you already know, the food is made from fermented oil bean seed and other ingredients, which makes it tasty, nutritious, and goes well with chilled drinks.

Whether you are looking for a new recipe to try at home or intrigued by its health benefits, Ugba food would make an excellent choice.