African forest leaf ‘eru’ beats Popeye’s iron-filled spinach as superfood

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In Cameroon, with an iron content 85 percent higher than spinach, a new study suggests forest leaf, ‘eru’ is key to lower anemia rates in Cameroon, where anemia especially affects women and children, according to the Center for International Forestry Research.

Researchers with CIFOR found that people weren’t starving, but they had iron-deficiency anemia. But some people did not have as much anemias as other groups, and researchers believe it is because of the dark leafy vine called eru (Gnetum africanum), which grows abundantly in Cameroon’s rainforests and across central Africa.

“Eru is traditionally cooked with palm oil, crayfish and bird pepper [Capsicum annum], a hot chili that grows wild in the area,” according to CIFOR. “The women harvesting it didn’t know about its health properties, they just go to the forest and forage and then feed their families with what they find.”