Monday, October 15, 2012

Health Benefits of Pumpkin Leaves

Back where I come from, we call these green leaves "ugwu" or "ugu", and most Nigerians have no idea what the English name is (like most local foods). My grandmother used to say this was a great vegetable to blend and mix with juices and stuff, but way back then, as a child, I could never understand why someone would want to blend a vegetable. And it didn't have the best texture in the world. Now, look at me, blending all sorts of greens!

This vegetable is used a lot in Nigeria to cook soups (what you may refer to as a sauce), to boil and eat plain, or to blend into a shake. People say it is healthy, but I don't think people truly know what those health benefits are. Well, here are some of them:

Pumpkin leaves contain a healthy amount of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium, and Iron, while still staying very low on the calorie front. 

We all know about the vision benefits vitamin A provides, as well as the skin benefits. Vitamin C helps to heal wounds and form scar tissue, and maintain healthy bones, skin, and teeth. However since the body cannot produce this vitamin on its own or even store it, you should be consistently getting enough vitamin C in your diet.

As for calcium, your mother probably already told you growing up that you need a healthy dose of calcium for your bones and teeth as a child. However, if you are a female, it is important to consume enough calcium to help prevent osteoporosis and keep your bones strong. There have also been studies showing that calcium may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular failure.

Iron helps our muscles store and use oxygen, and helps carry oxygen from our lungs to other parts of our bodies as part of hemoglobin. If you've ever heard the term "anemia", this can be caused by iron deficiency. Women and children in particular need a healthy dose of iron consistently, and these leaves help provide that nutrient naturally.

I have heard from older Africans than pumpkin leaves can cure all sorts of things. While I don't believe any vegetable is magic and can cure anything in itself, as part of a healthy nutrition lifestyle, pumpkin leaves can really help you stay healthy and possible ward of some diseases.

Cheers Eights & Weights!

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