Pumpkin leaves are cultivated in Nigeria and other West African countries. They are edible when boiled or cooked with food; they can also be crushed as fresh leaves and the juice extracted to make a vegetable salad or juice.
In Yoruba, it’s called Sokoyokoto; in Igbo, it’s called Ugu; in Hausa, it’s called Kabewa; and in Efik, it’s called Ikong-Ubong. This amazing plant acts as an anti-aging agent and fights cancer, enhances fertility, prevents infection, lowers cholesterol, treats convulsions, and combats diabetes. It’s also worth noting that pumpkin leaves are high in potassium, calcium, folic acid, iron, vitamin E, vitamin B6, vitamin A, vitamin C, and other vitamins and minerals.
Health Benefits of Pumpkin Leaves
- Prevents convulsion: Convulsion is defined as a rapid, forceful, irregular movement of the body caused by involuntary muscular contractions and is linked to brain problems such as epilepsy, the existence of certain poisons or other substances in the blood, or fever in children. It is not something that anyone should go through because it may be quite painful. Alternative medicine practitioners, on the other hand, have been using pumpkin leaves to prevent and treat this condition for many years. The young leaves are chopped and combined with coconut water and salt before being preserved in a bottle until needed.
- Natural anti-oxidants: They’re high in alkaloids, resins, hydrocyanic acid, tannins, and flavonoids, which are potent antioxidants with anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties. Because of their ability to counteract the damage that oxidative stress should have generated in the body, foods high in antioxidants are known to be useful in avoiding cancer and other related health disorders such as ulcers. Oxidative stress and inflammation, which can cause DNA changes that lead to cancer, are two of the main causes of cancer and other age-related illnesses.
- Promotes fertility: Fluted pumpkin leaves have indeed been used in the treatment of infertility in both men and women in the local area. Its high concentration of essential nutrients and chemicals has been shown to help men increase their sperm count and improve the overall function of their testicles. Breast milk production increases, which makes women more fertile and improves their post-pregnancy health. It helps nursing mothers feed their babies enough. In studies, pumpkin leaves have been demonstrated to be beneficial in the treatment of infertility disorders. Oleic acid, vitamin A, alkaloids, tannins, and linoleic acid are antioxidants that have been demonstrated to assist in promoting the activity of the testicles for increased sperm count.
- Aids weight loss: Weight-loss foods are advised due to their usefulness in weight management. Dietary fiber is abundant in vegetables like fluted pumpkin leaves, which can help you lose weight by filling you up and suppressing your hunger. It has few or no calories, reducing the possibility of the body retaining additional calories. Calories are good for the body because they give energy, but if they aren’t fully used, they can build up in the body, which can lead to weight gain.
- Prevents cancerous growth: Cancer has gradually become one of the world’s leading causes of mortality, and it is now a familiar name when it comes to illnesses. And, unlike in the past, when finding someone with cancer was rare, it has now become more of an airborne disease. According to studies, there is a direct link between fiber intake and cancer risk. This is due to the fact that foods high in fiber are also high in vitamins and minerals, all of which are necessary for cancer prevention. As a result, it is suggested that these leaves be consumed regularly in soups.
- Diabetes prevention: Only a diabetic understands the agony of diabetes. Pumpkin leaves are known to have a hypoglycemic impact, which helps to keep diabetes under control by lowering blood sugar levels. According to studies, the aqueous extracts of pumpkin leaves have anti-diabetic qualities that help diabetic patients lower and manage their glucose levels. This is because the leaves of the plant have anti-diabetic compounds like ethyl acetate and polysaccharides that help keep blood sugar levels stable.
- Boosts the immune system: The immune system is made up of organs and bodily processes that aid the body in fighting infection and poisons. The thymus, bone marrow, and lymph nodes are among these organs. Pumpkin leaves, on the other hand, have been found to be a powerful immune system booster due to their high vitamin and mineral content. They boost your immunity by helping to increase hemoglobin in the blood and keep your bones strong. This lowers your risk of contracting diseases and hence keeps you healthy. As a result, general health is preserved in the process.
- Good for bones and teeth: The fluted pumpkin vegetable is high in calcium, which the body needs to maintain healthy bones and teeth, as well as to preserve the skeletal system in good working order. It also contains magnesium, which is essential for maintaining bone strength and firmness. It may come as a surprise to learn that calcium is almost useless to bones without magnesium, as magnesium aids in the proper absorption of calcium by the bones. It also has the same effect on the teeth, since adequate magnesium in the body aids in the strengthening and firming of the teeth. Potassium is one of the minerals found in Ugu, and it helps to maintain bone mineral density, which keeps the calcium level in the bones in good shape.
- Good for digestion: Pumpkin leaves are high in dietary fiber, which helps to keep the digestive system healthy. It helps to improve digestion, which helps to reduce health problems like irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, and indigestion-related issues like ulcers and gastroparesis. Because of its fiber content, it aids digestion and facilitates stool passage. The stools are huge and soft due to the high fiber content, causing muscular contractions and passing of the feces without any further pressure. Your digestive system will be detoxified as well because your stomach is clean.
- Improves blood production: Making pumpkin leaf juice is always advised for patients who have a blood shortage due to disease; the presence of iron and other vital elements in it helps to boost blood in the body system and avoid anemia. When iron, one of the necessary minerals in red blood cells, is deficient, it can induce undesirable effects like the one described above. As a result, fluted pumpkin leaves have been utilized to help the body’s blood circulation. It is recommended that it be pounded, then strained to collect the liquid/juice for its usefulness in aiding to stimulate blood production. Before consumption, milk is usually added to pumpkin leaf juice.
Pumpkin leaves are mostly renowned for their culinary use. Even so, most individuals are unaware that they generate significant health benefits when used together or independently, including but not limited to healing a variety of ailments, restoring dead cells in the body, and maintaining tissues and membranes.
Many nutrients in pumpkin are found largely in its raw form, as some may be destroyed after cooking. However, it must be cooked for a short time to kill any bacteria that may be present but cannot be seen with the naked eye. Pumpkin leaves aid in the prevention of disease and the improvement of overall health.