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Pumpkin Leaves

Did you know that you can eat pumpkin leaves? Yes, you can! It is a very edible and palatable food. Pumpkin leaves are packed full of nutrients that may contribute to quality and longevity of life.

Despite its richness in vitamins and minerals, the calories found in these leaves are very low compared to other vegetables. In Africa, pumpkin leaves are usually used to prepare local soup dishes.  In Nigeria, pumpkin leaves also called Ugu, are used to prepare soups like; Egusi, Okra, ogbono, vegetable and native soup. Ugu leaves are also used to make tomato stews, sauces, porridge beans and porridge yam.

Health benefits of Pumpkin Leaves

Reduce the Risk of Cancer

Pumpkin leaves are good sources of beta-carotene which is proven to reduce the risk of some cancer.

Including pumpkin leaves in your diet will boost your body’s vitamin A level and can prevent the growth of cancers like prostate and breast cancer.

Prevent Obesity

As a plant food, pumpkin leaves can also reduce the risk of obesity. It disrupts the growth of fat in the body and burns the excess fat present in the body. Studies found that it also promotes great Body Mass Index.

Lowers Blood Pressure

Potassium is one of the nutrients for heart health. Eating potassium rich foods can prevent high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes and other heart-related diseases. The good news is, this important element can be found in pumpkin leaves.

It lowers blood pressure in people with high blood pressure and can prevent those that don’t have it from developing high blood pressure.

Boost Immune System

The combination of vital immune-boosting nutrients present in pumpkin leaves makes it one of the foods that have the ability to fight diseases and infections. For instance, beta-carotene produces vitamin A which protects the body from infections.

Also, there is an abundant number of vitamin C in pumpkin leaves. Vitamin C also strengthens our immune system and keeps us healthy.

Rich in Fiber

Daily intake of fiber is good for the body. Fiber helps in the digestion of food. It also prevents the blood from absorbing too much sugar. It regulates the bowel’s movement which reduces the risk of colon cancer.

Other Benefits

Apart from the above, pumpkin leaves have other benefits that can improve human health. It can improve eye health, prevent asthma, protect the muscle and prevent skin damage.

Pumpkin leaves can be consumed in various ways. It can be made as a soup, added to salads, made as a dessert or eaten raw. It is essential to make sure the leaves are not overcooked to prevent the nutrients from being destroyed. The best way is to eat the leaves raw or half-cooked for the utmost result.

Picking the leaves

When picking pumpkin leaves, go for young fresh leaves. The old leaves are not edible and have thin thorns growing on them. The younger leaves also have thorns but the thorns are still tender and can be eaten.

Pumpkin Leaves woman

Yam and Pumpkin Leaves Recipe

There are many ways to cook pumpkin leaves. Porridge yam and pumpkin leaves is a popular meal in Nigeria. It is quick to prepare, filling, tasty and nutritious.

Ingredients

  • 1 kg white yam
  • Pumpkin leaves
  • Red palm oil
  • Ukpaka (oil beanoptional
  • 2 medium onions
  • Chili pepper
  • Salt
  • Stock cubes
  • Dry fish/Meat

Instructions

  1. Peel and cut the yam tuber into rectangular cubes. Wash the yam cubes and place in a sizeable pot.
  2. Wash and cut the leafy pumpkin vegetables, rinse the ukpaka and cut the onions into tiny pieces. Grind or blend the chilli pepper.
  3. Put all these in a separate pot and set aside.
  4. Pour enough water to cover the yam cubes and cook till the cubes are soft and the water is a bit like porridge.
  5. Pour out the water from the pot, leaving the yam cubes in the pot.
  6. Add a cooking spoon of water from the yam to the pot containing the vegetables.
  7. Cook till the vegetable is softened by the heat. Don’t overcook the vegetables.
  8. Pour the cooked vegetables and other ingredients into the pot containing the yam cubes. Add the palm oil and salt to taste.
  9. Stir with a wooden spoon till all the ingredients have mixed well.
  10. Serve hot.