The health benefits of ugu are as a result of its rich content of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Ugu is commonly used to treat anaemia and diabetes.
Telfairia occidentalis, also known as fluted pumpkin is a leafy vegetable that is grown widely in West Africa, with Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra leone being the major producers. Commonly known as Ugu in Nigeria, the leaves are frequently added to soups or sometimes juiced.
Ugu leaves are a rich source of potassium and iron, and are thought to have several antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. The seeds, which are also used to cook soups in certain parts of Nigeria are a rich source of vitamins A, C and E, iron, magnesium , potassium, antioxidants and unsaturated fatty acids. Consuming ugu leaves and/or its seeds could be protective against various diseases including:
Health Benefits of Fluted Pumpkin
- Anaemia: Ugu leaves significantly increases haemoglobin concentration and raises red blood cell numbers. It also increases the levels of white blood cells.
- Alcohol-induced testicular damage: The oil obtained from ugu seeds promote the regeneration of cells in the testicles that are damaged by excessive alcohol consumption and improves semen quality.
- Alzheimer’s disease and dementia: Ugu leaves contain certain antioxidant compounds that can inhibit the enzymes involved in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. These compounds are most active when the leaves are eaten raw, blanching reduces their inhibitory properties.
- Diabetes: Ugu seeds contain compounds known as globulins that possess glucose-lowering properties. Eating these seeds may therefore protect consumers from type 2 diabetes.
- Cardiovascular disease: Ugu leaves have the ability to effectively reduce cholesterol levels.
- Nervous system related disorders: Extracts of ugu leaves possess anticonvulsant and muscle relaxant properties so may be useful in the treatment of nervous system-related disorders.
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