There are amazing health benefits of Ugu leaves (fluted pumpkin) which you probably are not aware of. Ugu is called fluted pumpkin in English, and it is a plant which is mostly grown in West Africa. You may be unfamiliar with this plant if you are coming to Africa for the first time, but it is widely cultivated in Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon, and Sierra Leona. In Nigeria, cultivation of this plant is heavily practised in the Southern and Eastern part of Nigeria. As a matter of fact, fluted pumpkin derived its popular local name Ugu in Nigeria from the Igbo language. The botanically name for Ugu is Telfairia Occidentalis which belongs to the cucurbitacase family.
Descriptively, the plant has some very unique characteristics. It has greenish leafy vegetables and fleshly gourds which are quite big. Yet, some of them are medium-sized whiles others are quite small. Ugu plant (fluted pumpkin) comes in large ranging size of 16cm to 105cm in length and an average diameter of 9cm. In addition, it has between 10 to 200 seeds in each group depending on the size of the ground. The diluted pumpkin seeds are edible but have to be cooked before consumption. The seeds can also be used for making soaps or used as local spice in food. Likewise, the leaves are widely adopted and used by many people for cooking stews and soups because of its nutritive benefits.
Ugu leaves (fluted pumpkin) are rich in dietary properties like calcium, iron, potassium, and manganese. They also provide great amount of vitamin A, vitamin B2, vitamin C,and vitamin E. It is also packed with antioxidant properties to protect the body.
Nutritional Value of Ugu Leaves (Fluted Pumpkins)
One cup of cooked purnpkin (245grams) contains
- Calories: 49
- Fat: 0.2 grams
- Protein: 2 grams
- Carbs: 12 grams
- Fiber: 3 grams
- Vitamin A: 245% of the Reference Daily intake (RDI)
- Vitamin C: 19% of the RDI
- Postassium: 16% of the RDI
- Copper: 11% of the RDI
- Manganese: 11% of the RDI
- Vitamin B2: 11% of the RDI
- Vitamin E: 10% of the RDI
- Iron: 8% of the RDI .
- Small amount of magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, folate and several B vitamins.
The Amazing Health Benefits of Ugu Leaves (Fluted Pumpkin)
So why do a lot of people add Ugu leaves to their regular diet? The answer is simple – it is because they have found out many of the health benefits of this wonderful plant. Let us look at some of the excellent health benefits of Ugu leaves, perhaps, you too will be convinced about the need to make this plant part of your regular diet.
Here are 6 reasons why Ugu leaves should be part of your next soup or stew ingredients:
1. Repair Worn Out Cells
By consuming ugu leaves, you help your body to acquire its protein needs. As we all know, protein play a very important role in the body by helping to restore the worn out cells in the body with new ones. In addition to that, protein plays a role in providing other great health benefits to your body including to support neurological function, balancing hormones naturally and preventing weight gain, as protein can make you feel full and eat less. Hence, if you want to get these great health benefits, you can start to add Ugu leaves to your diet regularly as a right option.
2. Correct Anaemia
Not only for providing protein, fat and carbohydrate nutrients, Ugu leaves are very rich in iron. Your body needs iron to form haemoglobin, which is the part of red blood cells that transport oxygen all around the body systems. If you don’t have enough iron in your body, you can develop what is known as iron-deficiency anaemia which can lead to feeling dizzy and weak. As such, the rich iron contained in Ugu leaves will help to balance hormones naturally and prevent the weakness and dizziness for sure.
3. Improve Digestion
Your digestive system is responsible for daefecation. This process is aided by the work of dietary fibre in the intestines. So, in order to promote a healthy digestive system, you need to consume rich fibre foods such as whole grains and green vegetables. Ugu leaves provides a good source of dietary fibre, and if you wish to prevent issues like constipation, diarrhoea or get healthy weight, this amazing plant will be there to help you do just that.
4. Acts as Antioxidant
Ugu leaves are rich in aponins, glycosides, phytic acid, tannin, flavonoids, alkaloids, resine, hydrocyanic acid and oxalic acids. These provide very valuable antioxidant effects in the body. Antioxidants are chemicals in the body that clear harmful free radicals in the body which are responsible for many of the health problems people face, including cancers. Adding Ugu leaves to your diet is a good way to protect your body against the effects of free radicals and prevent certain health problems as well.
5. Boost Immune System
Some vitamins and minerals are utilized by your body to fight infections and diseases. In addition to the antioxidants contained in Ugu leaves, Ugu plant has numerous vitamin and mineral components which help to strengthen your body’s immune system.
6. Promote Recovery
Many people consume Ugu leaves as a juice to be drunk as herbal medicine. This is due to the presence of healing properties it seems to have on symptoms of diseases like malaria and typhiod fever. Though there is no much information on the science behind it, a lot of people use Ugu leaves to alleviate the symptoms of certain diseases and illnesses.