Health Benefits of African pear called UBE by the Igbos


Health Benefits of African pear (UBE)

Studies revealed that UBE, the buttery African pear is loaded with essential ingredients for warding off diseases. It is uniquely different in appearance, shape and size from the common pear. Ube as it is locally called among the Igbos in the south-east of Nigeria, or African pear is botanically known as Dascroides edulis, of the family Burseraceae. African pear tree is typically planted for its shade and its fruit. Also, the bark of the tree is aromatic.

Nutritionists said that its pulpy pericarp has the qualities of butter and indeed rich in oil and vitamins! Cooked flesh of the fruit has a texture similar to butter. It is this portion of the delicious African pear that is eaten, either raw or cooked, especially with corn – cooked or roasted. Pear and corn share similar season and mix well in the bowels. Studies however revealed that African pear is rich in carbohydrates, sugars, fiber, vitamins, especially thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, panthotenate folate, vitamin C and vitamin B6.

Secretary General, West African Association of Food Science and Technology (WAAFoST), Prof. Osaretin Ebuehi told The Guardian that pear contains several minerals, such as calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and zinc.

“Pears have antioxidant properties, because they are rich in Vitamin C and therefore can protect body cells from oxygen-related damage caused by free radicals. The presence of fiber in pears helps prevent constipation and also ensures regularity of bowel movement. “Studies have revealed that eating pears help protect women against postmenopausal breast cancer. Pear is described as a hypoallergenic fruit, that is, less likely to produce an adverse response than other fruits.

“Regular consumption of pears might lower the risk of age-related macular degeneration, the main cause of vision loss in older adults. It has been reported that pears help lower blood pressure and also reduce the chances of a stroke,” he said. Osaretin, who is also the Head of Department of Biochemistry, College of Medicine, University of Lagos, added that the high content of pectin in pears makes them useful in lowering of cholesterol “Pears have been found to be good for colon health. Pear juice, being rich in fructose and glucose, serves as a very quick source of  energy. Drinking a glass of pear juice is believed to be helpful in bringing down fever.” He added that the antioxidant properties of African pear makes it good for strengthening of the immune system, while the consumption of pear juice helps relieve pain in various inflammatory conditions. “The presence of boron in it helps the body retain calcium and thus, reduces the risk of osteoporosis. The folic acid in pear prevents neural tube defects in infants,” he said.

A Microbiologist, Olanrewaju Disu, added that it is believed that “resin” which is secreted by the African pear is of medicinal value, useful in the treatment of parasitic skin diseases. As traditional food plant in Africa, this little- known fruit has potential to improve nutrition, boost food security, foster rural development and support sustainable land. The main use of D. edulis is its fruit, which can be eaten either raw or cooked in salt water or roasted. The pulp contains 48 per cent oil and a plantation can produce 7-8 tons of oil per hectare. It has a relatively short trunk and a deep, dense crown. The bark is pale gray and rough with droplets of resin. The leaves are a compound with 5-8 pairs of leaflets. The upper surface of the leaves is glossy. The flowers are yellow and about 5 mm across. They are arranged in a large inflorescence.

The tree flowers at the beginning of the rainy season and bears fruits during 2 to 5 months after flowering. There are two variants of Dacryodes edulis: D. e. var. edulis and D. e. var. parvicarpa. The fruit of D. e. var. edulis is larger and the tree has stout, ascending branches. D. e. var. parvicarpa has smaller fruit and slender, drooping branches. The tree is also a source of many traditional medicines. The plant has long been used in the traditional medicine of some African countries to treat various ailments such as wound, skin diseases, dysentery and fever. The extracts and secondary metabolites have been found to show biological activities such as antimicrobial, antioxidant and anti sickle-cell disease. A wide range of chemical constituents such as terpenes, flavonoids, tannins, alkaloids and saponins have been isolated from the plant.

In a study published in Science World Journal, A publication of Faculty of Science Kaduna State University, titled: “Nutritional Composition and Microbial Spoilage of Dacryodes edulis Fruits Nigeria” in 2010 by Omogbai B. A., Ojeaburu S. I., they noted that proximate analysis revealed that moisture content, lipids, protein, ash, crude fibre and carbohydrate ranged between 44.45-50.93 per cent, 30.55-35.60 per cent, 2.89-4.16 per cent, 2.65-2.76 per cent, 1.52-1.61 per cent, and 9.75-12.59 per cent respectively.

“The most abundant mineral element in the fruit pulp was phosphorus (692.55-698.40mg/100g) followed by potassium (540.81-553.15mg/100g), calcium (347.50-354.6mg/100g), magnesium (280.15-287.65mg/100g) and sodium (162.50-170.0mg/100g). “While the lowest concentration of nutrients use recorded for zinc (3.65-3.81mg/100g), iron (3.43-3.58mg/100g) and copper (0.38-0.45mg/100g).

“The heavy metals lead, cadmium, mercury and arsenic were not detected in all samples. The anti-nutrient levels in all samples were low following WHO standard for foods. The bacterial burden of fresh pulp samples was higher (2.82-3.18 log cfu/ g.) than the fungi load (2.58-2.72 log cfu/g). “Microbial spoilage resulted in log increase of these numbers. Of the 17 microorganisms isolated from Dacryodes edulis pulp samples, Erwinia carotovora, Pseudomonas flourescens and mostly with roasted or boiled maize (Zea mays) or sometimes with cassava in Nigeria. “Bacillus subtilis had the highest frequencies of 32.7, 23.2 and 12.5 per cent respectively amongst the bacteria. The predominant fungal spoilage organisms were Sacchacromyces, cerevisiae, Rhizopus stolonifer and Penicilium expansum.”  as written by Emmanuel  Ukwu


  1. Great one on our popular Ube. But I don’t know why a friend of mine complained that whenever he ate a sizeable quantity of African pear he felt like he was having fever. With all the good things coming from this fruit can it actually have this kind of adverse ‘reaction’ on somebody. This is a food product I would love to explore further and spread through my site: Can an expert please explain this? Thank you


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