Fluted pumpkin is a popular vegetable in West Africa, especially Nigeria. It’s used to prepare soups like; Egusi, Okra, ogbono, vegetable, and native soup. Ugu leaves are also used to make tomato stews, sauces. Pumpkin leaves are rich in nutrients like iron, which helps with blood circulation and reduces menstrual cramps.
Fluted pumpkin (Telefairia occidentalis) is locally known as Ugu in Igbo, Eweroko in Yoruba, Kabewa in Hausa, Ikong-ubong in Efik, Krobonko in Ghana, and Gonugbe in Sierra Leone.
Nutritional Benefits Of Ugu Leaf
Rich in Protein:
Ugu is an excellent source of plant protein. Protein is essential for cell growth and repair. It is a significant growth agent. Protein also aids memory and hormonal balance. Protein is good for weight-related issues and can also function as an antibody to specific viruses and diseases.
Rich in Calcium:
Ugu is a good source of calcium as calcium is needed for healthy bones and teeth. Calcium in your body plays key roles in cell signaling, blood clotting, muscle contraction, and nerve function.
Excellent source of Fats and Carbohydrates:
Ugu is a good source of fats and carbohydrates, which promotes the energy level in the body and reduces fatigue.
Rich source of Iron:
Ugu provides an essential amount of iron to the body. Iron helps to balance hormones naturally and prevent weakness and dizziness. Lack of iron will lead to anemia and poor concentration.
Rich in Potassium:
Ugu is rich in potassium. Potassium helps prevent and maintain blood pressure, improves cardiovascular health, and promotes bone and muscle building. Potassium is vital to the healthy functioning of all your body’s cells, tissues, and organs. It also helps to control the amount of water in your body and maintain a healthy blood pH level.
Rich source of Magnesium:
Ugu is an excellent source of magnesium. Magnesium helps to maintain normal nerve and muscle function, supports a healthy immune system, keeps the heartbeat steady, and helps bones remain strong. It also helps to regulate blood glucose levels and aid in the production of energy and protein.
Source of Dietary Fiber:
Fluted pumpkin leaves are a source of dietary fiber that helps in the healthy maintenance of the digestive system.
It plays a vital role in improving digestion, thereby reducing the chances of health conditions like an irritable bowel movement, constipation, and those caused by indigestion problems like ulcers. Dietary fiber is also essential when dealing with weight loss. Fiber prevents you from overeating because it fills the stomach faster.
Medicinal Benefits of Ugu leaves (Fluted pumpkin)
Improves Blood Production:
Fluted pumpkin leaves are always recommended for patients who suffer from a shortage of blood due to the effect of certain illnesses; the presence of iron and other essential minerals in it contribute to the boosting of blood in the body system and prevent anemia.
- 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.
Ugu leaves and seeds have been used locally as a natural treatment of infertility in both men and women.
It contains many vital nutrients and compounds, which have proven effective in its use to boost/improve sperm count in men and the overall functioning of their testicles.
Fluted pumpkin leaves contain certain antioxidant compounds that help to improve memory. It also provides vital nutrients such as vitamins and magnesium, which aid in the improvement and normal functioning of the brain and nervous system.
Ugu can help in improving cognitive reasoning, memory loss (Dementia), and other health conditions associated with memory health such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Promotes Heart Health:
Fluted pumpkin leaves also play a role in providing the natural treatment of cardiovascular diseases and also cleans out your arteries to reduce the risk of heart diseases like arteriosclerosis.
Protects the Liver and Kidney:
Ugu has a high phosphorus level, thus preventing the formation of kidney stones, which can eventually lead to kidney disease. It also prevents and treats Hepatitis A. Make it a part of your diet to improve liver and kidney functions.
Improves Eye Health:
Ugu leaves are a perfect source of Vitamin A, which is essential for eye health and prevents the degeneration of some of the parts of the eye.
Boosts immune system:
Ugu leaves are full of antioxidants, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties. These properties inhibit the growth of pathogens in the body, get rid of free radicals that harm the body, and acts as an analgesic.
Strengthens Bones and Teeth:
Fluted pumpkin vegetable contains the right amount of calcium, magnesium, and potassium that the body needs for maintaining healthy bones and teeth also keep the skeletal systems in normal functioning conditions. Magnesium helps in the adequate absorption of calcium by the bones and teeth. Potassium also helps in maintaining bone mineral density. This helps to prevent osteoporosis, which affects the bones, especially in the aged.
Ugu leaves have been found useful in treating convulsion in children. It becomes medicinal in this case when sliced and mixed with coconut water and with a small amount of salt. Scientifically there might be no proof of this, but it has been used hundreds of years ago in the treatment of high fever and convulsion.
It is known that fluted pumpkin leaves have a role to be anti-malaria properties. As a result, this benefit is linked to the presence of antiplasmodial properties contained in Ugu leaves. Also, by having these properties, they are capable of treating a parasitic infection.
Has soothing properties:
Feeling tired or not getting enough sleep lately? One cup of Ugu leaf juice before you go to bed can help you to fight insomnia.
Pumpkin leaves are rich in calcium, so the juice of Ugu leaves are popular among lactating mothers. It normalizes the calcium level and helps women lactate properly. Ugu leaves also prevents morning sickness in early pregnancy.
It is not a secret that Ugu leaves contain antioxidants, so these leaves are a well-known remedy to slow down the aging process. It also hydrates the skin and makes it smooth.
In the case of burns, inflammation or abscess, Ugu leaf juice works as a cooling agent. It is beneficial for treatment and relieves pain caused by insect bites as well. Antioxidants, such as vitamins A, C, E, and zinc, help your wound or burn to be healed faster.
How to make ugu juice
- Wash and rinse with water properly.
- Blend or pound the leaves.
The juice can be taken directly, with milk or with a bottle of malt drink and orange (optionally).