Impwa, also known as African eggplants, are among the healthiest foods you can eat and they are very affordable

By Dr. Chitalu Chilufya

Dear colleagues, friends and family,

Today, I wish to discuss the nutritional value of impwa…

Eggplants are a natural source of vitamin B, such as thiamin, niacin, B6 and pantothenic acid, that helps the body in the proper use of fat and protein; and also contributes to the nervous system positively. Vitamin B plays a vital role in promoting good health and well-being. It helps in brain development and also helps in making sure that the immune and nervous system works properly. Regular consumption of impwa provides you with enough vitamin B needed by the body.

Packed with minerals, vitamins and other nutritional properties, impwa can play a key role during pregnancy. They can help both pregnant women and unborn children for healthy situational conditions. The high presence of folic acid makes impwa an excellent food and useful dietary addition during pregnancy. Folic acid protects infants from neural tube defects that do occur.

Eggplants are a rich source of iron, which helps to increase the red blood cells in the body, thereby aiding in fighting against anaemia or deficiency in iron. But they are also rich in copper, another important component of red blood cells. Consuming eggplants regularly helps in making the red blood cells to flow adequately through your veins, thereby causing a boost in strength and energy.

They are equally an important source of soluble fibre and carbohydrates which can help in the control and prevention of diabetes. Foods rich in fibre and carbohydrate help in the regulation of blood sugar levels and glucose absorption. Consequently, eggplants are an excellent food for people suffering from diabetes helping with the reduction and prevention of type 2 diabetes.

Impwa contain a high amount of calcium, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus. These minerals help in maintaining electrolyte balance in our body. This aids in neutralising sodium effects in the body, thereby controlling blood pressure levels. An antioxidant in eggplants known as chlorogenic acid also helps in reducing cholesterol levels in the body. Therefore regular consumption of impwa helps in maintaining a good blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Impwa are rich in vitamin B1 and B6 (thiamin and niacin). These vitamins are essential in the body for the proper functioning of the heart and cellular respiration. Vitamin B1 deficiency leads to cardiovascular problems. Therefore foods rich in vitamin B1 play a vital role in ensuring a proper functioning of the cardiovascular. Vitamin B6 helps in maintaining a healthy nervous system. Consuming impwa can greatly help in preventing heart disorders.

Studies have also shown that polyphenols in eggplants have anti-cancer effects. The anthocyanins and chlorogenic acid help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals, thus preventing tumour growth and the spread of cancer cells. Anthocyanins prevent new blood vessels from forming in a tumour, reducing inflammation and blocking the enzymes that help cancer cells to spread.

Equal to the task and probably even more effective are the eggplant leaves as they are known to be natural blood cleansing herbs, especially when served raw as a salad. You can equally boil them for a few seconds and then filter the juice. The juice helps in cleansing the kidney by filtering the blood, preventing any form of kidney related issues.

But there is another important organ that is not left out, the liver. The importance of impwa to the liver cannot be overemphasised because of the antioxidants that help protect it from certain toxins, thereby making it a remedy for liver issues.

It should be now evident why our foreparents in villages would reach old age without complications of non communicable diseases. Next time you see impwa on sale, you know what to do. Make a decision today to choose a healthy eating lifestyle that prioritises vegetables. If you have found this write-up useful, remember to share it with friends and family.

The Author is a Medical Doctor, Law maker and Zambia’s Minister of Health in President Edgar Lungu’s Government

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28 COMMENTS

  1. There are different views out there. Someone told me South Africa, after seeing people importing them, took them to the lab for tests & tests found that impwa has a chemical element that might cause or enhance the development of ulcers in the stomach. Remember that it has a bitter taste which they argued causes acidity in the stomach. So mwandi kulilafye na risk since twali belela

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    • And ba Dr, if you want to clearly tell us things about the nutritional value of a food, as a Dr & if you info is research based break it down for us. Tell us like vitamin B (%), folic acid (%), etc etc. That’s how info is communicated by breaking the content down to percentage composition. Not kwati we are primary pupils sure. Some research ni Z standard!!!

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    • Ba Bongo not everything that is bitter equates to acid…lemons and lime are bitter but not acidic. The key to good health is keeping the body non acidic or alkaline with specific fruit and veg as prescribed by Dr Sebi’s alkaline diet.

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    • @Jay Jay; Lemons are very acidic with a pH of about 2. But once metabolized, they become alkaline with a pH well over 7 which makes it healthy for consumption.
      However I don’t think I should be taking advice from a Dr who does not seem to understand the importance of a fire extinguisher in a hospital or who allows patients to keep getting expired drugs because he wants to keep his boss happy.

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    • Ba bongo apo twatampila ukulya impwa namaalusa yenu tayatwikata. We all know that alcohol on empty stomachs and worrying are the causes of ulcers. In south Africa junk food is in abundance so ulcers and hbp nipamushi. Fwebalya organic we have little to worry

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    • The Real Olivia ….. – some citrus fruits like Lemons and lime are acidic but form alkaline in your body….the reason is they are high in alkaline minerals like calcium and potassium. This is the primary determinant in whether a food is alkaline or acid forming. Research yourself and you’ll find this is the common characteristic of all alkaline fruits and vegetables.

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  2. The stuff is bitter and tastes like medicine, never liked it as a kid and still don’t like it however much lipstick you put on it.

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    • Cancer thrives in acidic environment especially when you are eating meats, processed meat etc keep away from healthy “bitter” foods at your own peril.

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    • There goes ubupuba, food should be valued for its nutritional content not its taste.This is why we’re poor bcuz we value style over substance.

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  3. Thank you! My energy was flagging this week and I was going to take vitamins, but I am now off to Dalston Market to purchase a sackful.

    My dad used to love to have Zambian food in our house and impwa was one of them (we thought they were too bitter). So the old man was right after all! Zambians should appreciate their food. This includes super foods like ocra, Inswa(delicious insects). Not forgetting edible caterpillarsb(though I bulk at this one)…yum yum

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    • You have to eat a large portion of foods to get the benefits. So how much is a beneficial portion?

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  4. He is writing paragraphs of healthy eating but will never write one paragraph about how to stop corruption at Medical Stores by improving the procurement process of drugs through accountable and transparent systems. Here is a man who was nicknamed Mr. ATM by PF cadres during campaigns because he used to give out money

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  5. That is food for civil servants, who cannot afford protein food, because of wage freeze and debilitating austerity measures. In all honest, a minister himself, cannot eat that food. He has a lot of allowances. He is even able to send his children to better universities. It is a mockery to talk about that food and it’s benefits because that’s the food they eat.When you are campaigning, you don’t promise people to eat eggplants. You promise people to eat an egg per day. But after winning the egg per turns into impwa throughout the year. You even has the audacity to lecture us on the food we are accustomed to. Shame on you!!!!!

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    • @Oxtail
      Ba Oxtail, mwansekesha bosses ! You have cracked my ribs !! Impwa will keep you healthy and prolong your life.

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  6. Informative, let’s explore all the meals our foreparents enjoyed. Think of horned melon {mankangala}

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  7. From my own point of view I feel this information is good to be shared to the people in the nation so they could grasp how valuable some foods are.
    I would wish there was someone from the ministry of health to give similar information on other foods and the benefits we get from consuming such foods.
    Dr Chilufya what you have started should not end today but let it be the beginning of such health information to Zambians at large .
    The foods we consume means a lot to our bodies and to our health in general, many times people consume foods without any nutritional values, however knowledge is power and can save man from some diseases.

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  8. I don’t understand, people wanted the doc to talk about the benefits of T-bone, broilers etc. or what?

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  9. OK I believe Impwa is healthy but what about Chikanda? I doubt if there’s any nutritional value in that gravel-tasting loaf.

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    • That gravel tasting loaf remember one of its ingredients is peanut butter if you went through primary school you should have been taught the benefits of peanuts. The only down side is farting all day and night

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  10. Thanks Doc. I have been to other countries and some of the foods they eat. But pa Zedi we like marginalizing our own foods. Which are turning out to be more healthy than the changanya we are consuming in large quantities.
    Please use some of our public resources to research all our traditional foods and place the information in an accessible format and place. Also help us to know what portions are necessary to avoid waste or under nourishment.
    Finally, our able citizens and agriculture pros, let us develop accessible seed and grow these in ou4 backyards.

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