Efo Riro

Derived from the Yoruba language, Efo riro is a vegetable soup filled with so many layers of flavor. In literal terms, Efo means ”Green leafy vegetable” or ”spinach”, and riro, means ”to stir”.  Sobasically, Efo riro simply means ”stirred leafy vegetable” or you can call it the African Stewed Spinach. As the name implies, Efo riro is native to the Yoruba people in Nigeria and it is prepared with three major ingredients - the efo (spinach) itself, fermented locust bean (iru), and palm oil (epo).

Trust me when I say Efo riro should be on everyone’s menu. By everyone, I mean both vegetarians and non-vegetarians. Although meat, and fish give the soup a lovely flavour, it can also be adapted to fit into the vegetarians menu without losing its rich depth offlavour. The beauty of a well prepared pot of efo riro can be seen in the way it looks, and felt in its taste. At face value, the soup isusually packed with a lot of 'orisirisi' - crayfish, fish, meat - and thisgives it a very delicious taste, yet very nutritious. It is worthy ofmention that this stew is usually fresh; the spinach should not be overcooked, and it can be served with any swallow of choice (eba, fufu, pounded yam etc) or with rice, boiled yam, it can even be eaten alone. I must also add that the simplicity of making this stew is the reason it's a welcome choice on many food menus. It's not expensive to prepare and the needed ingredients can be readily found anywhere.

How does efo riro benefit me?

The ingredients used in making this stew have made it a highly nutritious dish. Spinach leaves- the main ingredient- are a greatsource of vitamins A, C, K, and folate. Palm oil, another crucialingredient, is a rich source of vitamin E, pepper is rich in vitamin C, locust beans, also known as iru, is a rich source of protein andessential amino acids. Lastly, the meat, fish are a source of protein, and they're rich in zinc and iron. I've highlighted five major health benefits of this soup below:

1. Boosts immunity

Efo riro is an excellent source of vitamins A, and C. Vitamin C helps to boost immunity by stimulating the body's production ofwhite blood cells, which fight off infections and diseases. Spinach leaves are rich in beta-carotene, which is converted into vitamin A, which aids cell development, and helps to keep immune system's proper function. It also supports healthy skin, vision, and organfunction. So, while you have the deliciousness of efo riro on your taste buds, you are also building your immune system.

2. Improves digestion

Efo riro is very rich in fiber. Dietary fiber aids in digestion, it keeps the digestive system running smoothly. It helps to move food thtough the digestive tract more quickly, thereby preventing constipation, diarrhea, and waste toxins are effectively carried out of the body. Spinach, itself, contains phytonutrients which help to detoxify the liver and prevents bacterial overgrowth in the gut. Italso contains antioxidants and other compounds that help protectagainst digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) andCrohn’s disease.

3. Promotes healthy bones

Leafy greens are a good source of calcium, which is essential forhealthy bones and teeth, muscle function, nerve transmission, andblood clotting. In addition to calcium, vitamin K, which regulates calcium absorption and prevents the breakdown of bone tissue, can be found in spinach.

4. Improves eye health

Spinach contains carotenoids, and this means it is rich in Vitamin A. Vitamin A protects the cornea and, as we get older, it lowers the riskof macular degeneration and night blindness. In a nutshell, vitamin A preserved the health of the cornea, retina, and macula, this means that the risk of cataracts is reduced, and overall eyesight is improved. Eating efo riro also exposes us to two antioxidants, luteinand zeaxanthin, which can help protect your eyes from the damagethat UV rays can cause.

5. May have anti-diabetic properties

Generally, vegetables have a lot of fiber, which is good for regulating blood sugar levels. Research shows that consuming eforiro may be beneficial in managing diabetes, and can as well preventthe onset of type 2 diabetes. The green vegetables and peppers, in the soup, have phytonutrients that help diabetics keep their insulinlevels in check.


Efo riro is -its ingredients are- packed full with important vitamins, and minerals that are essential to healthy living. The soup is really easy and in-expensive to prepare. I hope with these benefits highlighted, you can incorporate efo riro in your menu. Till I come your way again, I hope you prepare this soup.

Ayomide Oloruntobi

'Mide Oloruntobi is a creative writer with a keen interest in addressing topical issues around fitness and proper diet through her writing. 

Although 'Mide is a graduate of mathematics, she loves to participate in medical outreaches, she's also a volunteer with the Kindhearts foundation, a breast cancer advocacy group. 

Or send her a mail @ayomideoloruntobi@gmail.com

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