What is your favourite soup? Ask me mine and I'll gladly shout ~ ogbono soup!!!

Each time I eat ogbono soup reminds me to concur to an interesting story my dear mother told me about my passion for this delectable soup. My mum told me that right from when I was a year old baby, I usually enjoyed and looked forward to eating this delectable soup. By the time I got to two years old, I wouldn't let anyone else feed me this soup as I'd already had a unique way of eating it. At that tender age, I would take small portions of either fufu, eba or pounded yam with Ogbono soup then, first of all, pass it around my head twice or thrice before finally popping it into my mouth.

If you are acquainted with ogbono soup, then you will agree with me that one distinguishing feature of this soup is that it draws quite a lot. So mum believed that my main reason for firstly passing the soup/fufu around my head before eating it is to stop the ogbono soup from being so draawwyyyyy. But I suppose I could have been in a better position to explain to people my motives behind eating ogbono soup in this manner if only I knew what I was doing then.

According to my mum, the funniest part of it all is that I never allowed anyone else to feed me this soup because I find pleasure in executing the task. So you can understand where I am coming from when I mentioned that my favourite soup is ogbono soup. Well, you can say that my passion for this soup did not just start overnight. This has been from the onset of my journey on this planet earth.

Kudos to my sweet mama for sharing this thrilling story with me because it kind of made me love this soup the more. Interestingly, I've grown to find out that apart from being a delicious soup condiment, that ogbono seeds and other parts of the tree are useful for several remarkable benefits.

Peradventure you haven't heard, seen or eaten ogbono before, this post is here to bridge the gap! It sheds light on some important features, extraction methods, nutritional values, medicinal and several other benefits of this awesome fruit.

Ogbono is botanically known as Irvingia gabonensis (Aubry-Lecomte ex O’Rorke) Baill and is highly demanded due to its immense benefits. Ogbono is a specie of African trees that belongs to the genus Irvingia. The high demand for ogbono is due to its high socioeconomic, nutritional and medicinal values. Different parts of the world have different names for Irvingia gabonensis for example, it is known as ugiri or ogbono by the Igbo people, biri, goron, goronor by Hausa people, ogwi by the Benin people, mbukpabuyo by the Ibibio and Efik people, oro, apon or aapon by Yoruba, bobo, manguier or sauvage by French and apioro by the Deltan people. It is equally known as dika, sweet bush mango, odika, iba-tree, chocolatier, African mango, dika nut, duiker nut, manguier sauvage, wild mango, Irvingia and dika bread tree. 

According to Ladipo et al., (1996), the Irvingia genus is made up of 7 species comprising of Irvingia wombolu, Irvingia gabonensis, Irvingia giarobur, Irvingia excels, Irvingia malayaria, Irvingia gradifolia and Irvingia smithii. Unlike the pulp of some other Irvingia spp., the pulp of Irvingia gabonensis is edible, sweet and juicy. Irvingia gabonensis is closely related to Irvingia wombolu. While Irvingia wombolu bears inedible and bitter fruits, the Irvingia gabonensis bears edible ones. Irvingia excelsa Mildbr fruit pulp is hard and inedible while Irvingia smithii Hook.f. fresh fruit is sweet and edible. 

The ogbono tree measures between 15 to 40 meters with slightly buttressed bole. It bears edible mango-like fruits that are highly valued for their nutritious nuts. Ogbono tree is prevalent in the dry and wet tropical zones such as Nigeria, Angola, Uganda, Congo, Cameroon, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Côte d'Ivoire and Southeast Asia. It can grow in a farmland, semi-deciduous forest, canopied bush or gallery forests. Although this fruit is also referred to as bush mango, yet it is in no way similar with mango fruit. 

Irvingia gabonensis tree is distinguished by its compact crown with branchlets that end in a curved, narrow, stipular sheath. The tree grows upright to approximately 40 metres height and 1-metre diameter. This usually covers the leaf bud. The leaves are elliptic, slightly obovate, dark green in appearance and measures approximately 5 to 15 x 2.5 to 6 cm. Ogbono leaves bear between five to ten pairs of irregular lateral veins that have the lower ones to protrude out closely to the margin.

The slender, bisexual flowers are yellow to greenish-white in colour with some clustered racemes formed above the leaves. Ogbono fruits are greenish when unripe but change to yellow when ripe. The evergreen crown is dense and spherical in shape. The drupe fruit is distinguished by its fibrous flesh and the nut is woody and contains one seed.

Ogbono seeds

How to Extract Ogbono Seeds (Irvingia gabonensis)

~ Ogbono fruits are picked from the ground near the tree or plucked from the tree.
~ The fruits are allowed to decompose for few days or alternatively the pulp can be peeled, leaving behind the ogbono nuts.
~ The nuts are then cracked open using a hammer.
~ The ogbono seeds are extracted from the nuts.
~ The extracted ogbono seeds are then dried in the sun for few days.
~ Sun-drying the ogbono seeds helps to preserve the seeds for a long time.
~ Dried ogbono seeds can be stored in a container and used for more than a year.

20 Key Benefits of Ogbono Irvingia gabonensis

Several studies have been carried out to ascertain the medicinal, nutritional and other benefits of Irvingia gabonensis. Anegbeh et al., (2003) agree that the Irvingia fruits are utilised both in modern and traditional medicine for treating several diseases. Some benefits of ogbono include;

Edible Purposes
Irvingia gabonensis fruit can be eaten as fresh fruit. The sweet pulp can be juiced or used for making smoothie, jelly, jam and wine. The seeds can be pressed for vegetable oil or margarine. The dried ogbono seeds can be ground and used for preparing ogbono soup, stew, Gabon chocolate and dika bread.

Antidiabetic Properties
Diabetes has remained a challenging health condition that has caused the loss of several lives. Ngondi et al., (2005) agree that ogbono seed is capable of reducing fasting blood glucose levels in obese beings. Furthermore, Sulaimon et al., (2015) study evaluated the antidiabetic properties of Irvingia gabonensis leaf and bark extracts on alloxan induced diabetic rats.

The study showed that the aqueous extracts of leaf and bark of Irvingia gabonensis had more anti-diabetic activity than the ethanolic extracts. However, the researchers recommended further studies to determine the toxicity of Irvingia gabonensis leaf and bark extracts.

Weight Management
Studies on African mango reveals that it suppresses hunger and as such very essential for people that want to minimise their food intake. Reduction of food and caloric intakes help to maintain a healthy weight. Ngondi et al., (2005) evaluated the efficacy of Irvingia gabonensis seeds in the obesity management.

This was carried out as a double-blind randomised study using 40 subjects. 28 subjects received Irvingia gabonensis 1.05 g three times a day for one month while 12 subjects were on placebo and the same schedule. The obese patients given Irvingia gabonensis had a significant decrease in triglycerides, total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol with an increase in HDL-cholesterol. However, the placebo group showed no changes in blood lipid components. This suggests that Irvingia gabonensis seed is suitable for weight management.

Analgesic Properties
Okolo et al., (1995) screened the water and ethanol extracts of the powdered stem bark to ascertain the analgesic effects of this fruit. The results were further compared with standard analgesic drugs. The study suggests that the water extract has analgesic effects similar to a narcotic analgesic.

The ethanol extract might contain compounds that behave similarly like non-narcotic analgesic agents. The results of this study are the first pharmacological basis that supports the traditional use of Irvingia gabonensis as a pain remedy. The bark can be boiled and used for relieving tooth pain

Medicinal Tablets Production
Ogbono contains sticky wax (mucilage) that is useful for making medicinal tablets. The wax acts as a binding agent during tablets production. Studies reveal that tablets manufactured with bush mango have increased brittleness and reduced tensile strength when compared to gelatin tablets.

Regulates Serum Cholesterol Levels
Ngondi et al., (2005) study validates that obese patients given Irvingia gabonensis had a significant decrease in LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, total cholesterol with an increase in HDL cholesterol. This suggests that Irvingia gabonensis is suitable for regulating the serum cholesterol levels.

Construction Purposes
The wood can be used as timber for construction purposes such as paving blocks, railway ties, canoes, ship decking, pestles, mortars, boards and planks.

Dysentery Treatment
The bark can be decocted and used for treating dysentery and diarrhoea. The bark can also be combined together with palm oil for treating diarrhoea.

Antibacterial and Antifungal Properties
Kuete et al., (2007) support that the methanolic extract of Irvingia gabonensis can be used for treating bacterial and fungal infections.

Dye Production
The fruit pulp can be used for producing black dye for dyeing cloths. Both the roots and barks also contain tannin, which is suitable for dyeing.

ogbono kernels Ogbono Kernels

Cosmetics Production
Pressed ogbono oil can be used for making cosmetics and soap. The bark can be used for treating scabby skin. The powdered kernels can be applied on the skin as a cosmetic to make the skin less oily. 

Livestock Fodder Purposes
The fruits and seeds can serve as fodders fed to farmland livestock such as goat, sheep, cow, cattle etc.

Offers Shades
The tree offers shade to other growing crops such as maize, cocoa, yam and coffee.

Erosion Control
The trees can be planted for preventing and controlling erosion.

Ornamental Purposes
The trees can be planted for ornamental and beautification purposes.

Prevents Constipation
Being a rich source of dietary fibre, ugiri fruit can be eaten to improve bowel functioning and for preventing constipation.

Aids Digestion
The dietary fibre present in this fruit also aids easy digestion of food thereby preventing bloating .

Astringent Purposes
The powdered kernels can be used as an astringent applied to soothe burns (Irvine, 1961). The powdered kernels astringent can also be applied to the skin to reduce bleeding from minor abrasions.

Dental Care
The stems of the tree can be used as chewing sticks for cleaning teeth.

Nutritional Values of Ogbono (Irvingia gabonensis)

Ogbono fruit is a rich source of potassium, iron, water, energy, protein, carbohydrate, ascorbic acid, sodium, amino acids, dietary fibre, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. The seeds contain fatty acids such as stearic acid, oleic acid, palmitic acid, myristic acid and lauric acid.
Preliminary phytochemical screening of the aqueous leaf extract of Irvingia gabonensis shows that it contains phlobatanins, saponins, phenols and tannins.

This post is for enlightenment purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for professional diagnosis and treatments. Remember to always consult your healthcare provider before making any health-related decisions or for counselling, guidance and treatment about a specific medical condition.

1] Anegbeh, P. O., C. Usoro, V. Ukafor, Z. Tchoundjeu, R. R. B. Leakey and K. Schreckenberg, (2003), Domestication of Irvingia gabonensis 3: Phenotypic variation of fruits and Kernels in a Nigeria village, Agroforestry Systems, 58: pp. 213-217.
2] Ayuk, E. T., Duguma, B., Franzel, S., Kengue, J., Mollet, M., Tiki-Manga, T. and Zenkeng, P. (1999), Uses, management and economic potential of Irvingia gabonensis in the humid lowlands of Cameroon. Forest Ecology and Management 113(1): pp. 1–8.
3] Irvine F. R. (1961) Woody plants of Ghana. Oxford University Press London, pp. 506-508.
4] Kuete, V., G. F. Wabo, B. Ngameni, A. Tsafack Mbaveng, R. Metuno, F. X. Etoa, B. Tchaleu Ngadjui, V. Penlap Beng, J. J. Marion Meyer and N. Lall, (2007), Antimicrobial activity of the methanolic extract, fractions and compounds from the stem bark of Irvingia gabonensis (Ixonanthaceae), Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 114: pp. 54-58.
5] Leakey R. R. B., Greenwell P., Hall M. N., Atangana A. R., Usoro C., Anegbeh P. O., Fondoun J. M. and Tchoundjeu Z. (2005), Domestication of Irvingia gabonensis: 4. tree-to-tree variation in food-thickening properties and in fat and protein contents of dika nut: Food Chemistry. 90: pp. 365-376.
6] Matos L., Nzikou J. M., Matouba E. and Pandzou-Yembe V. N. (2009), Studies of Irvingia Gabonensis Seed Kernels: Oil Technological Application”, Pakistan Journal of Nutrition 8(2), pp. 151-156.
7] Ngondi, J., J. Oben and S. Minka, (2005), The effect of Irvingia gabonensis seeds on body weight and blood lipids of obese subject in Cameroon. Lipids Health Diseases, 4: p. 12.
8] Nwigbo S. C., Ngini J. O. and Atuanya C. U. (2013), Physical and Mechanical Properties of Irvingia Gabonesis and Irvingia wombolu at varying Moisture Content and Temperature, International Journal of Multidisciplinary Sciences and Engineering, vol. 4, no. 6, pp. 10-13.
9] Ogunsina S. B., Bhatnager S. S., Indira T. N. and Radha C. (2012), The Proximate Composition of African Bush Mango Kernels (Irvingia Gabonensis) and Characteristics of its Oil, Ife Journal of Science 14. 1. pp. 177-182.
10] Okolo, C. O., Johnson, P. B., Abdurahman, E. M., Abdu-Aguye, I. and Hussaini, I. M. (1995), Analgesic effect of Irvingia gabonensis stem bark extract, Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Volume 45, Issue 2, pp. 125-129.
11] Sulaimon, A. O., Auta, T. and Hassan, A. T. (2015), Evaluation of antidiabetic activity of Irvingia gabonensis (Aubry-Lecomte ex O’Rorke) leaf and bark in alloxan induced diabetic rats, Biosciences Research in Today’s World, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp. 84-89.


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