As we celebrate women this month of March, we turn our attention to fibroids, a common health condition with a high incidence amongst women of African heritage and highlight some foods that can help in preventing and managing this condition.

TOMATOES: This staple ingredient of West African cuisine is a one of the best sources of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that can reduce the size and occurrence of fibroids. Lycopene is made more potent by cooking so tomato-based stews and Jollof rice are definitely on the menu (use each link to download your free recipe card).

BEANS: Fibroids can cause heavy periods and consequently iron-deficiency anaemia resulting in tiredness, shortness of breath, lack of energy, palpitations and pale skin. Beans are a rich source of iron which helps to prevent and treat anaemia, as are dishes based on them.

OKRA: Current research shows a strong link between high blood pressure and the development of fibroids. Potassium is known to lower high blood pressure, so including potassium-rich foods such as okra in your healthy meal plan can help to reduce your risk of fibroids.

OILY FISH: Fibroids occur as a result of chronic inflammation and uncontrolled cell growth. Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines contain Omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin D which have been shown to respectively reduce inflammation and prevent the growth of fibroid cells.

GREEN LEAFY VEGETABLES: Dark green leafy vegetables like fluted pumpkin leaves, waterleaf, African spinach and jute leaves are rich in antioxidants such as vitamins A and C which combat oxidative stress. We recommend lightly cooking them to preserve their health benefits.

SPICES & CONDIMENTS: Spices and condiments such as Aidan tree fruit/seeds, scotch bonnet, African pepper and country onion used to add taste and enhance the flavour of dishes are rich in phytochemicals which prevent inflammation and fibroid development.

Which of these will you start eating more of now you know how they can benefit your health? We’d love to hear your comments.

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