Pumpkin leaves scientifically known as Cucurbita moschata Duchesne is a creeping vine which has large alternate, simple leave. It is mostly called “Ugu leave” (Igbo language) in Nigeria which is being used in various soups, due to its health benefits.
Fluted pumpkin leaf is a dark green leafy vegetable found in the tropics, rich in water, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, iron and magnesium, vitamins A , K and folate. It is used for various soups in the West African sub-region.
Squash and Pumpkin leaves are indeed, edible. In many parts of the world, including Asia and Africa, they are a regular part of the diet when available. The taste is similar to a mixture of green beans, asparagus, broccoli and spinach.
Brief History of Pumpkin leaves
Pumpkin is considered to have originated from Mexico and Central America.
Before the Europeans arrival, it was widely cultivated in South and North America.
The evidence was found by archaeologists that the cultivation and domestication of Cucurbita moschata (pumpkin leaves) dated from 4,000–3,000 B.C. in Peruvian sites and from 1440–400 B.C. in Mexican sites.
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Health benefits of Pumpkin Leaves
Pumpkin leaves are healthy and delicious, and is also loaded with iron, manganese, that is an important mineral for a lot of bodily processes. Apart from that pumpkin leaves also include several calcium, vitamin C, vitamin A and B vitamins, in addition to magnesium, phosphorus and copper.
They are essential for a healthy body and it has many beneficial properties, listed below are few of the popular benefits of regular consumption of pumpkin leaves:
(1) Promote the health of the heart
Pumpkin leaves contain plenty of soluble fiber; high intake of soluble fiber helps to reduce the absorption of cholesterol and bile acid from the small intestines, thus decreasing blood cholesterol level.
When soluble fibers are broken down by bacteria in the intestines, some fatty acids released are said to decrease the production of cholesterol by the liver. By lowering blood cholesterol, fibers help to reduce the risk of heart disease.
Pumpkin leaves also contain plenty of potassium which helps to prevent irregular heart beat and to reduce risk of stroke.
(2) Strengths Your Immune System
Iron which is found abundantly in pumpkin leaves plays an important role in providing strength to the immune system of the human body.
Thus, the body becomes capable to fight against a number of diseases and infections.
Red blood cells are essential for providing oxygen to damaged tissues, organs, and cells.
Without it, there would be no hemoglobin; without hemoglobin, there would be no oxygen. The healing process needs iron to happen!.
(3) Ensures Soft and Supple Skin
Pumpkin leaf consists of Vitamin A which is recommended everyday as a diet.
Therefore consuming vitamin A rich foods helps to keep body free from free radicals and toxins, which might cause damage to your skin.
It helps to keep the skin soft and supple by ensuring moisture retention, thus preventing dryness, keratinization and skin conditions like psoriasis.
(4) Fight against cancer
Pumpkin leaf like other green vegetables is rich in fibers; several researches in the last three decades have shown a link between increased fiber in-take and a decrease in colon cancer.
It is due to the fiber itself or the nutrients that are commonly in fiber-rich foods like vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and essential fatty acid.
Regular consumption of pumpkin leaves is extremely recommended and this is easily possible in West Africa through soups.
(5) Reduce Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Low levels of vitamin B6 are related with increased symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), like severe pain. Earlier research has discovered that people with RA need more vitamin B6 compared to healthy people because they experience constant muscle aches and joint pain because of chronic inflammation.
Vitamin B6 rich foods helps in curbing pain and can be useful in supplement form for controlling aches in the muscles and joints due to arthritis.
(6) Strengthen our bones
Pumpkin leaf consists of huge amount of calcium and phosphorus which are essential for the bones and teeth of our body.
We must consume enough of them daily to confirm strong bones, proper growth and good teeth development. It also avoid stiff joint and bone pain.
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