Professionals in the field of nutrition have revealed that Pumpkin leaves popularly known as ‘Ugwu’ in Nigeria is very beneficiary to the body when consumed.
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According to researchers in the field, ugwu is very nutritious and its consumption should be encouraged.
Speaking of the benefits of the pumpkin leaves, Dr Ochuko Eruikainre and Mrs Yeside Adesiyun, who are both Senior Nutritionists Researchers in the Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi, Lagos, noted that the Ugwu leaves can help to prevent issues of infertility in men by increasing sperm counts.
According to Eruikainre “Ugwu leaf oil has also shown to be beneficial to female fertility by maintaining the morphology of the ovary and uterus as well as increasing serum levels and oestrogen.”
“This can be attributed to its nutritional and phytochemical constituents such as antioxidants which help to protect against oxidative stress.”
He noted that this has been proven by scientific research which has been carried out in the past on the extract of the leaves.
In his words, “The water extract of the leaf has shown by several studies to have a pro-fertility effect in males.’’
Speaking further, the nutrition expert said, “These micronutrients are also co-factors for most enzymic activities in the reproductive tract.’’
Contributing to the benefits of the leaves, Adesiyun on her part said: “Ugwu leaf contains beta-carotene that is converted into Vitamin A, which helps to support the immune system and eye health.”
“Some of the micronutrients in Ugwu leaf are antioxidants and these are very important in improving health and fighting diseases.”
She, however, warned that the leaves should not be overcooked in order for it not to lose its benefits.
Quoting Adesiyun, “How you prepare your Ugwu leaves can determine what you have left; the nutritional advice is that you should wash your leaves whole before cutting them.
“It helps to reduce the number of nutrients that will be lost.” “Hot water blanching and prolonged cooking also reduce the nutrients. It is best to reduce heating and cooking time.’’