Hypertension: One reason to eat locust bean
By Sade Oguntola from Nigerian Tribune
January 6, 2007

A diet rich in locust bean benefits the body greatly.

When last did you enjoy home-made soup made with locust bean or even eat the fermented bean raw? Locust bean is one common cooking condiment that is been phased out on tables of the educated. Hardly is this cooking condiment given its right of place on the family table again despite its many health benefits for all ages.

While the young ones need it for good eye sight, the older ones need it to drive away hypertension and its other related diseases like stroke and diabetes.

Tough to many, the fermented locust bean is merely for adding taste, but science has also corroborated its many nutritional and medicinal values.

For example, when the entire seeds and decorticated, fermented seeds were tried out in rats to find out whether it actually has any impact on controlling blood pressure, the results obtained with both preparations, found adequate doses of the two helped to decrease arterial blood pressure. In fact, the diastolic blood pressure measurement enjoyed more reduction than even the systolic blood pressure.

Importantly, the Dakar Medical Journal in which the study was published has it that the effect of fermented locust seeds was much more than that due to the entire seeds in decreasing blood pressure in hypertensive than in those with normal blood pressure, meaning that a regular consumption of it can both reduce elevated blood pressure as well as prevent it in those with the medical problem.

The wonders of African locust bean tree are many. The pulverised bark of African locust bean tree, for instance, is employed in wound healing and serves as one of the ingredients that is used in treating leprosy. In Gambia, the leaves and roots is prepared into a solution for sore eyes too.

A decoction of the bark is used also as a bath for fever and as a hot mouth wash to steam and relieve toothache in Ivory Coast. The pulped bark is used along with lemon for wound and sores generally.

Similarly, the possible use of fermented locust bean seed in controlling diabetes and cholesterol level was also confirmed in rats by Prof. A.A. Odetola ; Dr. O.A. Akinloye; C, Egunjobi ; W.A. Adekunle and A.O. Ayoola in the latest edition of the journal, Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology.

Using the water and alcoholic extracts of African locust bean on experimental animals, they found for example that a dietary supplementation with the extract (6g per kg of the plant extract administered orally for four weeks), ameliorated the alloxan-induced diabetes in a manner comparable with that of the reference antidiabetic drug, glibenclamide.

Water and alcoholic extracts of the fermented locust bean elicited 69.2 per cent and 64.4 per cent reductions, respectively in fasting blood sugar level compared with 70.4 per cent in 0.01mg per cent 150g glibenclamide – treated rats. Glibenclamide is a drug for controlling blood sugar level in diabetics.

In addition, high levels of HDL, the good cholesterol and low LDL, the bad cholesterol, were observed in animals treated with the water extract of locust bean, a pattern similar to that seen in normal control.

The scientists concluded based on the study that while both the water and alcoholic extracts of fermented seeds of African locust beans exact a blood sugar lowering effect, only the water extract of it can ameliorate the loss of body weight usually associated with diabetes.

Similarly, garlic is another cooking condiment that shouldn’t be over looked. Garlic is a natural agent for the treatment of hypertension, with several scientific studies to back its effectiveness.

A marked decrease in systolic blood pressure was noticed with its usage. In these rats, three doses of garlic decreased the blood pressure within 30 minutes in each case.

A preliminary report on this by Fushee D.B, Ruffin J. and Banerjee U. said that the average decrease in systolic blood pressure for the 0.1ml per kg and the 0.25ml per kg were calculated as 51.25 mmHg and 56.25 mmHg respectively. However, these doses were not sufficient to sustain the blood pressure in a normal range for more than one or two hours.

It was a 0.5ml per kg dose that ensured an average decrease of 65.7 mmHg sufficient to provoke a decrease to a normal blood pressure level and to sustain this decrease for up to 24 hours.

But the best garlic to use should be the aged type according to the researchers in the Journal of Nutrition. Even though, both the aged and raw garlic reduced an increased systolic blood pressure when compared with the control group after four weeks of using the experimental diet in the rats, the effect of aged garlic extract was also accompanied by a decrease of pulse pressure, suggesting an added advantage to use aged garlic.

Because some harmful effects were observed in the rats feed raw garlic, including a decrease in their red blood cell volume, based on the result, they then suggested that aged garlic extract may safely improve several factors that affects the heart and blood circulation, unlike raw garlic.

So when next you are cooking, remember to add plenty of fermented locust bean seed or garlic.