Palm wine is the sweet tasty sap gotten from wounded palm trees. Anyone who has grown in Cameroon, Nigeria, Ghana and other parts of central and West Africa has come across palm wine. Palm wine is good for our health, if only we drink pure palm wine. This is because preservatives and sweeteners are added to it in order to extend its shelf life, which makes it not good for our health.
When palm wine is tapped, it is fresh and sweet but in 24 hours, it can become sharp and sour, and contain more alcohol than some of our alcoholic drinks. This is because the palm wine undergoes fermentation. Palm wine has benefits when consumed fresh or fermented, but the most benefits are gotten when it is consumed fresh.
In Cameroon and Nigeria, the process of tapping palm wine from palm trees is called palm wine tapping. A palm wine tapper climbs the palm tree with a rope that is locally designed for that purpose. He also climbs the palm tree with a cutlass, a knife and a gallon or calabash. When the tapper climbs the tree to the top, he will cut some palm branches to expose the tissue and use the knife to create a hole in the tree. A hollow bamboo or empty pipe is used to direct the sap into a gallon which is tied around the tree.
Contents of palm wine
The following are found in palm wine
- Amino acid
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin B1,B2 B3 and B6
Health benefits of Palm wine
1 Palm wine improves eyesight
Palm wine helps in maintaining good eye health. This is because it contains the antioxidant Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) which is also found in other fruits and vegetables. Vitamin B1 (thiamine) also helps in improving our vision. This is why some school of thought argue that our grandparents in the village have better eyesight than us because palm wine is their beverage.
2 Reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases
Research has showed that drinking moderate amounts of palm wine has been associated with a reduced risk of developing cardiovascular diseases such as heart failure. This study was conducted by Lingberg and Ezra in 2008. Palm wine contains potassium which has been proven by research to improve heart health and bring down hypertension. However drinking it in excess has adverse effects like destroying the liver.
3 Palm wine can help fight against cancer
Palm wine contains vitamin B2, also known as riboflavin. Riboflavin is an antioxidant which helps in the fight against some cancer causing agents called free radicals.
4 Palm wine helps in maintaining a healthy hair, skin and nails
The Iron and vitamin B complex found in palm wine are needed for a healthy skin, hair and nail. Iron is very essential for the development, growth and functioning of some cells in our body. This property of palm wine makes it helpful in promoting wound healing by repairing our tissues and promoting the growth of healthy cells.
5 Palm wine promotes lactation
Palm wine is being used by many natural healers in Cameroon, Nigeria, Ghana and other parts of Africa to help a lactating mother when she has limited breast milk production. Research is needed to investigate the property of palm wine that makes it stimulate the production of breast milk.
Do not drink fermented palm wine in excess. Fermented palm wine in excess is detrimental to our health. Fermented palm wine is locally referred to as “strong white mimbo” Fermented palm wine contains a high percentage of alcohol, which is probably higher than that found in some of the alcoholic beverages we drink. This fermented palm wine destroys our kidney, liver and other systems in our body. Drinking alcohol in excess is a risk factor for hypertension.
Lingberg , M.L. and Ezra, A.A. (2008). “Alcohol, Wine and Cardiovascular Health”. Clinical Cardiology. 31(8), pp 350
Akinrotoye, Kehinde Peter. “Effects of fermented palm wine on some diarrhoeagenic bacteria. Available at http://www.eliteresearchjournals.org/erjbm/content/2014/august/Akinrotoye%20KP.pdf