Nigerian fluted pumpkin (ugu) leaves have healthy benefits!

NIGERIAN FLUTED PUMPKIN

NIGERIAN FLUTED PUMPKIN (UGU) LEAVES AND SEEDS(Telfairia occidentalis) HAVE NOT ONLY HEALTHY EATING BENEFITS BUT HAVE COMMERCIAL AND MEDICINAL VALUES TOO!

Many of us don't realise the importance of the plants, trees, fruits, seeds; roots, leaves and various vegetables God,In His infinite mercy and wisdom created and made available for our use.

Wherever, you are right now, look around you, can you see a fruit,seed, a plant, tree, some leaves; and vegetables? Have you ever asked who created them and for what purposes? We humans take many things for granted either through ignorance or through lack of interest. It looks like only the Christians partially realise the importance of these especially during harvest periods of the year!

God is a Great God and it doesn't matter whether you believe in him or not! In fact, every plant or tree he created has a purpose and if only we can look into them as the scientists and researchers do we will find so many wonderful secrets hidden in them be it for feeding or most importantly for healing purposes!

NIGERIAN FLUTED PUMPKIN (UGU) LEAVES AND SEEDS

Many of us in Nigeria have been eating both the leaves and the seeds either on their own or using them in cooking all kinds of soups including pepper soups as well as yam pottage. What kind of soup can any one in Nigeria cook without fluted pumpkin (ugu) leaves one may ask?

This type of dark green leafy vegetable is so versatile and can be recognised as a panacea to cure some of our hunger as well as illness if only we can look deep into its benefits. This is the purpose of this article! After reading this article, you will be well educated enough to realise the importance as well as the medicinal values of Ugu leaves!

Fluted pumpkin (ugu)is one of the commonly consumed dark green leafy vegetables in Nigeria. It is a tropical climber grown in West Africa as a leaf vegetable and as edible seed."It belongs to plants family of cucurbitaceae".

I ask again, what kind of soup can you cook in Nigeria without Ugu leaves? Is it Edika-ekong, Egusi, Ofe-owerre,okra; or ogbono soup? If you miss, ugu leaves, then, you have yourself to blame! I have eaten the leaves all my life and so have members of my family especially since I discovered that the leaves have many medicinal values!

Apart from enjoying cooking and eating tripe and goat meat pepper soup with Ugu leaves, I equally enjoy eating the cooked leaves with Moi moi and fresh fish pepper soup! These are healthy eating diets second to none!

THE COMMON NAMES GIVEN TO THE PLANT:

The Latin name is (Telfairia occidentalis). The Igbo people of Nigeria and most Nigerians call it Ugu. The Ghana people call it Krobonko, while people from Sierra Leone call it Gonugbe. The English name is Fluted pumpkin,fluted gourd and the Spaniards call it Costillada!

The fruit of the plant is usually very large reaching up and including 13-15kg. An average fruit pod can contain as much as 100-150 seeds. The fruit body and pod is generally dark chalky colour and very hard. They are organically grown in gardens and some allotments in Nigeria. The pods are like Cocoa pods when it is cut open. The seeds are red-blood or magenta colour. The coverings had to be thoroughly washed to remove the poisonous toxins.

The seeds can be boiled or roasted like Chestnut. The seeds have hard covering too. It has many advantages as meal eaten on its own or in conjunction with other meals. "Mature pumpkin seeds contain protein,and are high in potassium, iron and crude fat and can be further developed to increase world edible vegetable oil production".

Fluted pumpkin is massively cultivated and massively eaten by the Igbo people of Eastern part of Nigeria. Normally fluted pumpkin are cultivated across lowland humid tropics of West Africa including Ghana and Sierra Leone.

Apart from the nutritional, agricultural and industrial importance, the plant has been found to be great and medicinally useful. I'm excited to introduce it to the Western world or people from other countries of the world who may not have had the chance of seeing as well as eating this dark leafy vegetable.The photographic images of the leaves are featured in this page for your perusal.

The young shoots and the stems are tender and are equally eaten. The leaves are imported into UK by Nigerian and Asian grocers and can be bought fresh from Dalston, Barking, Shepard Bush,and Brixton markets in London every Tuesdays and Wednesdays in in the week all year round. They are equally sold in Birmingham and Manchester cities to mention a few.

The fresh leaves can be frozen for up to one month and can still retain their freshness. This article continues in another page entitled: 'THE MEDICINAL VALUES OF FLUTED PUMPKIN LEAVES'

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