About Health and Nutritional Benefits of Fluted Pumpkin Leaves (Ugu)

Fluted pumpkin leaves are greenish leafy vegetables grown in Nigeria and other West African countries.

They are edible when boiled or cooked with foods; they can also be taken as a vegetable salad or juice when mashed as fresh leaves and the juice extracted.

It is called sokoyokoto in Yoruba, Ugu in Igbo language, kabewa in Hausa, and Ikong-Ubong in Efik. It contains calcium, iron, potassium, and manganese also provides a good amount of vitamin C, A, B2, and E.

Here are some nutritional benefits of fluted pumpkin leaves or vegetables;

 

1. Good Source of Dietary Fibre

Fluted pumpkin leaves are a source of dietary fiber that helps maintain the digestive system's health maintenance.

It plays an important role in improving digestion, thereby reducing health conditions like irritable bowel movement, constipation, and those caused by indigestion problems like ulcers and gastroparesis.

Green leafy vegetables such as fluted pumpkin leaves are rich in dietary fiber and should form a part of our daily meals to gain the benefits of this fiber.

 

2. Maintains the Body Tissues 

The vitamin contents present in this vegetable helps in maintaining healthy tissues, cells, membranes, and maintaining the skin, and treating wounds in the case of vitamin C.

The protein in fluted pumpkin leaves also helps improve and maintain the body tissues, which includes the connective tissues, muscles, and nervous systems.

 

3. Rich in Antioxidants

They are rich in alkaloids, resins, hydrocyanic acid, tannins, and flavonoids, powerful antioxidants that offer some immune system and anti-inflammatory benefits.

Foods rich in antioxidants are known to be effective in preventing cancer and other associated health conditions like ulcers due to their ability to prevent the damages that the oxidative stress should have caused in the body.

Oxidative stress and inflammation are some of the underlying causes of cancer and other age-related illnesses and can cause changes in the DNA, resulting in cancer formation.

 

4.  Balances the Hormones

The vegetable is known to have high protein content. Ugu contains the amount of protein needed for hormone balancing; tissue repairs and regulates the acidities of body cells and organs.

Consuming fluted pumpkin leaves is essential, as their protein content will also help improve the body cells and replace broken ones in the body.

 

5.  Serve as Anti-Diabetic Agent

It has an anti-diabetic effect which means that it has the ability to treat diabetes mellitus by reducing the level of glucose in the blood.

It is possible due to the content of polysaccharides and ethyl acetate, which have effectively lowered blood sugar levels. They are also effective in promoting glucose tolerance as well as the levels of serum insulin.

The extract of Ugu leaves has proved effective in this case, and it has been used as an anti-diabetic agent to regulate the blood glucose level.

 

6. Improves Blood Production

Fluted pumpkin leaves are always recommended for patients who suffer from a shortage of blood due to certain illnesses; the presence of iron and other important minerals in it contributes to the boosting of blood in the body system and prevents anemia.

Iron, one of the essential minerals in red blood cells, can cause adverse reactions such as the one stated above when there is a deficiency. Therefore fluted pumpkin leaves have been used in improving the level of blood in the body.

For the effectiveness of helping boost blood production, it is recommended to be pounded, then strain the mashed vegetable to collect the liquid/juice. Most times, milk is also added to the juice before drinking.

 

7.  Improves the Bones and Teeth

Fluted pumpkin vegetable contains a good amount of calcium that the body needs to maintain healthy bones and teeth and keep the skeletal systems in normal functioning conditions.

It also contains magnesium which plays a vital role in making the bone firm and strong. It might be surprising to say that calcium is almost ineffective to bones without magnesium as it helps the adequate absorption of calcium by the bones.

It also plays the same function on the teeth, as adequate magnesium in the body helps make the teeth stronger and firm.

Ugu also has potassium as one of the minerals it contains, which also helps maintain the bone mineral density, which helps to make the calcium content in the bones intact, avoiding the leaching of the mineral.

It helps to prevent osteoporosis, which affects the bones, especially in the aged.

 

8.  Treat Convulsion

Ugu leaves have been found effective in treating convulsion in children. It becomes medicinal when sliced and mixed with coconut water and with a small amount of salt.

Scientifically there might be no proof of this, but it was used hundreds of years ago to treat high fever and convulsion and serve as a remedy to many other health conditions.

 

9. Effective for Weight Loss

Foods that help in weight loss are recommended for their effectiveness in weight management. Vegetables such a fluted pumpkin leaves contain a high amount of dietary fiber, which can help you lose weight as it makes one fuller and lowers their appetite.

It contains little or no calories, which eliminates the chances of storing more calories in the body.

Since calories are good for the body, which helps provide energy, they can start accumulating in the body if they are not totally utilized, leading to weight gain.

 

10. Promotes Fertility

Fluted Pumpkin leaves have been used locally in the treatment of infertility issues in both men and women. 

Its content of many vital nutrients and compounds has proven effective in its use to boost/improve sperm count in men and the overall functioning of their testicles.

It boosts fertility in women and improves post-pregnancy health as it helps the nursing mother adequately feed their babies by increasing breast milk production.

 

11. Can Improve Memory

Fluted pumpkin leaves, just as most green leafy vegetables, contain certain compounds that help to improve memory.

It also contains vital nutrients such as vitamins and magnesium, which aid in improving and normal functioning of the brain and nervous system.

It can help to improve cognitive reasoning, memory loss (Dementia), and other health conditions associated with memory health, such as Alzheimer's disease.

 

Nutritional Values of Fluted Pumpkin Leaves (Ugu) (90g)

 

Nutrients

Values

Calories

42

Total fat

1.6g

Saturated fat

0g

                            Trans fat

0g

Cholesterol

0mg

Sodium

48mg

Potassium

2500mg

Total Carbohydrate

7g

Protein

3g

Vitamin A

7%

Vitamin C

240%

Vitamin K

136%

Calcium

3%

Iron

78%

 

They are rich in dietary fiber, minerals, vitamins A, B6, C, phosphorus, protein, riboflavin, thiamine, manganese niacin, folate, magnesium, iron, potassium, antioxidants and vitamins flavonoid, poly-phenolic antioxidants such as lutein, xanthins, and carotene.

 

Where are Fluted Pumpkin Leaves Grown?

Fluted Pumpkin Leaves is mainly grown in the southern part of Nigeria, used in various local cuisines and soup. Still, it is also grown in other West African countries like Ghana, Sierra Leona, and others.

Its scientific name is Telfairia Occidentalis and is grown for its edible seeds and green leafy vegetable.

 

Fluted Pumpkin Seeds

The seed can be found in the gourd and is edible, as it can be used as snacks by roasting or boiling it. In some cases, it can serve as a soup thickener by drying and grinding it into fine particles.

The seeds are beneficial and contain oil (fats) and other vital minerals and nutrients like protein, carbohydrates, fiber, and more.

 

Is it Safe to Eat Fluted Pumpkin Leaves Raw?

Pumpkin contains many nutrients found mostly in its raw form, as some might be killed during cooking. But it is still necessary to be cooked a little to destroy some of the bacteria that might be present and can’t be seen by the physical eyes.

Except for this, it is generally considered safe to eat.

 

Culinary and Medical Uses

They are basically known to be used for culinary purposes. Still, most people are yet to know that they jointly or separately produce effective benefits to human health, which are not limited to treating several health issues, replenishing dead cells in the body, and maintaining the tissues and membranes.

 

Side Effects

Fluted pumpkin leaves are generally considered safe as there are no recorded proven side effects.

 

Conclusion

Fluted Pumpkin leaves help in protecting the body against disease as well as improving overall health. Therefore it has to form a part of our daily meal to gain these necessary benefits that it offers.



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