5 Natural African Spices You Should Incorporate Into Your Daily Meal

Amarachi Irobi
Amarachi Irobihttp://@Amara_ii
My name is Amarachi Irobi, a content writer and food lover who loves to explore traditional African cuisine.
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Food security, essential environmental services, social cohesion, and the economics of most African countries are all dependent on healthy and productive soils. Africa has some of the most fertile lands on the planet, and out of this fertility emanates culture-rich foods, herbs, and natural spices which are enjoyed all over the world.

In this article, we’ll learn a lot about natural African spices, where they are found, their individual health benefits, and the numerous ways we can incorporate them into our daily meals.

Throughout history, the usage of herbs and spices has been extremely essential. Many were revered for their therapeutic benefits long before they were used in cooking. Many of these have since been proven by modern science to have significant health advantages.

The first few spices that come to mind when someone thinks of spices may differ based on what they eat. For some, all they need is pepper, cinnamon, and a variety of dried herbs. Curry powder, cumin seeds, cloves, and fennel seeds may be used by others.

Herbaceous plants produce tiny aromatic fruits and oil-bearing seeds known as spice seeds. Herbs are aromatic leaves from plants like nettles, mint, rosemary, and thyme that can be used fresh or dried.

Spices, spice seeds, and herbs are used as food additives to add flavor, aroma, and piquancy. They may have minimal nutritional value in the modest amounts required to produce culinary meals, but they increase appetite, add zest to food, and enhance flavors.

5 natural African spices and how to incorporate them into your daily meal:


Alligator pepper

aligator-pepper African spice
Image from Gosiora Greens N Grains

Alligator pepper, or Aframomum melegueta, is a popular herbaceous perennial plant native to West Africa, with populations in Nigeria, Cameroon, Liberia, Cote D’Ivoire, Sierra Leone, Togo, Gambia, and Ghana. It is a close relative of grains of paradise, obtained from the closely related species, Aframomum melegueta or “grains of paradise”. Unlike grains of paradise, which are generally sold as only the seeds of the plant, alligator pepper is sold as the entire pod containing the seeds.

Alligator peppers thrive on a fertile, well-drained soil blend, such as compost, manure, and peat moss. To increase drainage, sand can be added to the topsoil. Alligator pepper plants cultivated in pots can also be grown in regular, well-drained potting soil.

During the harvesting season,  the pods are collected from the plants, and the seeds are removed from the pulp by cracking them open and smacking them out with hands or the side of a knife. The seeds are then placed on leaves and left out to dry in the sun. Once completely dried, they are tightly wrapped inside the leaves.

Nutritional values of scent leaf

The seeds of this African since containing high concentrations of the following:

  • calcium
  • potassium
  • iron
  • vitamin C
  • thiamine
  • riboflavin
  • niacin

Medicinal benefits of Alligator pepper

Apart from being an African spice, alligator pepper comes with a lot of medicinal benefits.

  • It has antimicrobial properties: The antibacterial effects of the seed extract are attributed to the presence of phenolic chemicals, which are commonly employed as disinfectants. According to research, Aframomum melegueta extract has a broad spectrum inhibitory impact on bacteria including Salmonella typhi, Staphylococcus aureus, and Klebsiella pneumonia.
  • This African spice has aphrodisiac properties which makes it a good sex stimulant and maintains high stamina, especially in women as it works on their libido and makes them more sensitive to touch due to increased stimulation of nerve endings during sexual intercourse.
  • Its leaves are used in preparing herbal medicine that helps treat malaria and also works well in relieving digestive problems such as bloating and preventing constipation.
  • Effective in treating wounds and burns: This African spice has a high fiber content, which promotes tissue regeneration and wound healing. In addition to fiber, it has a significant level of tannin, which treats burns, heals wounds, and reduces inflammation by easing the pain of inflamed mucous membranes. Ulcers, diarrhea, stomach pains, and intestinal worms are among conditions that can be treated with its herb.
  • Helpful in weight loss: Thermogenesis, or the process of producing heat in warm-blooded animals, is boosted by this spice. In men, greater heat activates brown tissue adipose tissue, which increases energy consumption. As a result of the interaction of these mechanisms, weight loss occurs.

Contraindications of Alligator pepper

Ingestion of large quantities of Alligator pepper poses a health risk to women in their first trimester of pregnancy.


African Blue Basil

african blue basil - african spice
Image from SF Gate

African blue basil (Ocimum kilimandscharicum × basilicum ‘Dark Opal’) is a hybrid basil variety, a cross between camphor basil and dark opal basil and is mostly found in African and Asia. It is one of a few types of basil that are perennial. African blue basil plants are sterile, unable to produce seeds of their own, and can only be propagated by cuttings

All portions of the blossom, leaves, and stems are edible; while the camphor aroma may be too strong for some, the herb is said to make a pleasant pesto with a “rich, mellow flavor” and may be used as a flavoring in soups and salads, especially those with tomato, green beans, chicken, and other vegetables.

Nutritional values

  • Energy
  • Carbohydrate
  • Food fiber
  • Fat
  • Protein
  • Water vitamin A
  • Thiamin
  • Riboflavin
  • Niacin
  • Vitamin B6
  • Folic acid
  • Vitamin C
  • Colin
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Manganese
  • Phosphor
  • Potassium
  • Sodium
  • Zinc


Health benefits of African blue basil

  • Anti-aging properties: this African spice is rich in antioxidants that prevent premature aging as well as help fight diseases.
  • Anti-inflammatory properties: Basil’s powerful anti-inflammatory characteristics make it a potential remedy for a wide range of ailments and conditions. The anti-inflammatory characteristics of essential oils such as eugenol, citronellol, and linalool aid to reduce inflammation. Basil’s anti-inflammatory characteristics may assist to reduce the risk of heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory bowel illness. Consumption of basil could also soothe a fever, headache, sore throat, cold, cough, flu.
  • Boosts immunity: This African spice is very rich in Vitamin C which is an antioxidant and helps boost the immune system, making you less susceptible to disease.
  • Great for the skin: The oil of basil helps to cleanse the skin from the inside out. This wonderful face cleanser is ideal for oily skin. It also aids in the removal of clogged-pore dirt and pollutants. Basil leaves, sandalwood paste, and rose water are mixed together to make a paste. Allow 20 minutes for the paste to rest on your face. Rinse off using cold water. The strong anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties of basil would help prevent the formation of acne.
  • Cancer drugs: Monoterpene content in this bacillus can affect the development of cancer. Even consuming African blue basil on a regular basis can cure some types of cancer. Not only heal, but basil can also prevent it.
  • Helps fight depression: Basil essential oil may also aid in the treatment of sadness and anxiety. The plant is said to boost neurotransmitters that control the hormones that cause happiness and vigor. Basil is thought to be a potent adaptogen and anti-stress agent. Its anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting effects also assist with stress management.

Side effects of African blue basil

  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding: In dietary proportions, basil is probably safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Larger medicinal doses, on the other hand, are possibly unsafe. Basil includes estragole, a substance that has been shown to induce liver cancer in experimental animals. Онлайн-казино привлекает большое количество пользователей, многие из них продолжают играть и не останавливаются. Поэтому часто возникает вопрос, почему происходит данное явление. В-первую очередь, пользователи продолжают играть в Top online casino России из-за возможности развлечься и приятно провести время. После тяжелого трудового дня или недели, люди могут получить удовольствие от приятной музыки, дизайна и геймплея. Также пользователи продолжают играть в онлайн казино из-за возможности выиграть определенную сумму денег. Азарт и другие положительные эмоции могут провоцировать продолжать играть.


Scent Leaf

scent-leaf-african spice

Nchanwu or Effirin are two common names for Scent Leaf. OCIMUM GRATISSIMUM is its botanical name. It also goes by a variety of names in different dialects. The plant is normally a perennial homegrown shrub, although it can be found in the wild, and is used mainly as a spice for cooking delicacies due to its aromatic taste. This plant’s blooms and leaves are high in essential oils, adding a fragrant flavor to soups, salads, and other regional foods. Scent leaf is also an aromatic tropical plant, which leaves are mostly used for cooking. The extracts of this African spice are also commonly used as traditional medicine in treating illnesses like fever, cough, body pain, and so on.

Nutritional facts of scent leaf

The leaves of this African spice are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and essential oils such as:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B
  • Calcium
  • Vitamin K
  •  Potassium
  • Dietary fiber
  • Protein
  • Water
  •  Magnesium
  •  Iron
  •  Zinc
  •  Phosphorus

The essential oil of scent leaf is high in eugenol, thymol, camphor, pinene, limonene, and other chemical compounds that are responsible for many of their therapeutic properties.


Health benefits of scent leaf

  • Helps in eye care: Vitamin A is abundant in scent leaf, which helps to maintain strong vision. The retina of the eyes requires vitamin A in the form of retinal, which interacts with the protein opsin to generate rhodopsin, the light-absorbing molecule required for both scotopic (low-light) and color vision. Vitamin A deficiency can harm the eyes, resulting in xerophthalmia (a medical disorder in which the eye fails to produce tears) and night blindness, both of which can be avoided by eating enough fragrance leaves.
  • Scent leaf and menstruation: This African spice has also been shown to possess anti-inflammatory properties akin to drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen but is milder to the inner linings of the stomach. Extract from scent leaves is useful for healing menstrual pain, stomach ache, earache, and fever.
  • Lowers blood sugar: This plant can also help you avoid cancer and lower your cholesterol. Scent leaf may lower blood sugar levels and protect the pancreas cells that create insulin from harm in diabetes mellitus, particularly non-insulin-dependent diabetes (NID diabetes).
  • Reduce Nicotine: Benefits of Scent leaves the latter are to help eliminate and repair the damage caused by smoking. Smokers must consume Scent leaves. Other Scent benefits can also reduce stress, prevent diabetes and kidney stone disease. Wind laxative (carminative) contains a mint-like Scent.
  • Largely improves heart function: Scent leaves are high in calcium and magnesium, which both assist to lower bad cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) and improving blood circulation. Adults’ risk of Coronary Artery Disease is increased by low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterols, therefore consuming fragrance leaves can help to minimize this ever-present risk. Heart and artery issues caused by clogged arteries are almost entirely avoidable if sufficient amounts of scent leaves are consumed.

Side effects of scent leaf

  • It could interfere with blood-thinning medications: Vitamin K is abundant in scent leaf leaves, which aids in blood clotting. Blood-thinning medicines like warfarin may be affected by high intakes. If you’re on a blood thinner, make sure you’re getting enough vitamin K every day so your doctor can keep track of your dosage. This may be made more difficult if you consume items that contain a lot of Scent leaves.
  • It is contraindicated in patients with low blood pressure: This African spice is known to lower blood pressure. This poses a threat to individuals diagnosed with low blood pressure as it could further lower it.



cumin african spice

Image from Wikipedia

Cumin (Cuminum cyminum) is an Apiaceae family flowering plant. Its seeds, which are all contained within a dried fruit, are used whole or crushed in the cuisines of many countries. Cumin lends its distinctive flavor to chili, tamales, and various Indian curries. Its flavor has been described as earthy, nutty, spicy, and warm.

The seeds of this African spice are hand-harvested from an annual plant and are little, boat-shaped seeds that look like caraway seeds. Cumin is most commonly found in a brownish-yellow color, but black cumin, green cumin, and white cumin can also be seen.

Cumin is available as both whole seeds and ground powder and both are used in recipes, and are also very helpful in traditional medicine. This historical African spice that has been used for so long is used all over Africa. Traditions have held great importance and belief that during marriage ceremonies if the couples carry cumin seeds with them their marriage will be blissful. Though it is a great spice to add to your African meal.

Nutritional value

Cumin seed may be a good source of

  • iron
  • manganese
  • magnesium,
  • calcium
  • phosphorus.

Other vitamins present in this African spice might include

  • thiamine
  • riboflavin
  • niacin
  • vitamin A, C, E, K, and vitamin B6.

Health benefits of cumin

  • Aids in digestion: This African spice has been demonstrated in studies to aid with a variety of digestive disorders. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms as tummy pain, bloating, and the urgent need to go to the bathroom were greatly reduced by cumin extract in one study. This African spice has long been used as a traditional cure for diarrhea, and some preliminary research has found substantial evidence to back it up.
  • Rich in antioxidants: Cumin seeds may contain a variety of plant components known for their potential health advantages, such as flavonoids, alkaloids, phenols, and others. Free radicals create oxidative stress, which can lead to heart blockages, diabetes, and other disorders. These antioxidants may help limit the harm done to the body by free radicals.
  • Might be effective in weight control: Over time, the effects of this African spice can work together with a healthy diet and exercise to decrease fat deposits and reduce inflammation in your body. Cumin can help you burn calories more quickly by speeding up your metabolism and boosting your digestion. You will automatically lose weight if you have a healthy digestive system and higher metabolism.
  • Aids in skincare: Cumin’s bactericidal and antifungal qualities may also help protect your skin from fungal and microbial infections. It may also help to reduce wrinkles, age spots, and sagging skin, which are all symptoms of premature aging. The presence of vitamin E, which functions as an antioxidant and combats free radicals, may be responsible for this.
  • Increases lactation: Cumin, which is high in iron, may be good for breastfeeding moms, pregnant women, and women who are menstruating. Furthermore, due to the presence of thymol, it is supposed to assist relaxation and boost milk secretion in nursing women.
  • Reduces risk of diabetes: Cumin stimulates insulin production in the body, which helps keep the blood sugar levels in check.

The side effects of cumin

  • This African spice is known to have narcotic qualities, therefore use caution when using it. The seeds of this African spice can cause mental fogginess, tiredness, and nausea if consumed in large quantities.
  • Cumin seeds, when consumed in high quantities, can help to reduce blood sugar levels in the body. This may have an impact if you are scheduled for surgery, as blood sugar levels must be maintained. To control your blood sugar level during and after surgery, your doctor may advise you to stop eating the seeds of this African spice at least two weeks before the surgery.
  • The carminative effect of this African spice may cause excessive belching.



Nutmeg-seeds-african spice
Image from Britannica

Nutmeg is the seed or ground spice of several species of the genus Myristica. Myristica fragrans is a dark-leaved evergreen tree cultivated for two spices derived from its fruit: nutmeg, from its seed, and mace, from the seed covering. It is also a commercial source of essential oils and nutmeg butter.

This African spice comes from the seed of the evergreen nutmeg tree (Myristica fragrans). This tree, interestingly, is a host to one more incredibly potent and unique spice, mace, which is the dried reddish seed covering. Nutmeg has a distinctly strong fragrance. It has a nutty flavor and it is slightly sweet in taste.

The essential oil obtained by steam distillation of ground nutmeg is used in the perfumery and pharmaceutical industries. Nutmeg butter is obtained from the nut by expression. It is semisolid, reddish-brown in color, and has the taste and smell of nutmeg itself.

Trimyristin, which makes up about 75% of nutmeg butter by weight, can be converted to myristic acid, a 14-carbon fatty acid that can be used as a substitute for cocoa butter, blended with other fats like cottonseed oil or palm oil, and utilized as an industrial lubricant.

Nutritional value of nutmeg

This African spice is rich in fiber, which helps keep the digestive system healthy and prevents blood sugar from spiking.

It’s also a source of:

  •  Vitamin A
  •  Vitamin C
  •  Vitamin E
  •  Manganese
  •  Magnesium
  •  Copper
  •  Phosphorous
  •  Zinc
  •  Iron

Health benefits of nutmeg

  • Promotes digestion:  this African spice is well-known for its therapeutic qualities. This African spice has been used to cure indigestion and stomach ulcers, among other things. The nutmeg seed’s distinct fragrance is responsible for its therapeutic qualities.
  • Rich in antioxidants: Nutmeg is a rich source of antioxidants, which help protect against the signs of aging and serious conditions such as cancer, heart disease, and liver disease.
  • Used in skincare: This African spice has long been used in herbal and traditional medicine to improve the appearance and health of the skin. It’s usually used as a paste with water or even honey, which is equally beneficial to the skin.
  • Dental hygiene: Several dental products use nutmeg oil. The spice possesses antibacterial qualities that have been shown to be very efficient against germs that cause disease and foul breath in the mouth.

Side effects of nutmeg

  • Hallucinations and other mental adverse effects have been related to long-term usage of this African spice at doses of 120 mg or more per day. Nutmeg users have reported nausea, dry mouth, dizziness, irregular heartbeat, anxiety, and hallucinations after taking higher amounts.

Well there you have it, 5 African spices you should incorporate into your daily meal. They all have nutrients and are extremely beneficial to health. These African spices will allow you to select from a variety of flavors and spices accessible on the African continent that you should include in your dishes. You don’t know what you’re missing out on if you haven’t tried African spices. Whether you’re a vegan or not, Africa has a plethora of spices to choose from.

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Amarachi Irobi
Amarachi Irobihttp://@Amara_ii
My name is Amarachi Irobi, a content writer and food lover who loves to explore traditional African cuisine.

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