English Name: Fluted Pumpkin Leaves
Local Name: Ugu (Igbo)
Botanical Name: Telfairia Occidentalis
This tropical vine known as Telfairia occidentalis is well grown in West Africa as a leaf vegetable and also for its edible seed. It belongs to a member of the Curcurbitaceae family and is indigenous to southern Nigeria. Ugu is mostly cultivated in Nigeria by the south eastern Nigeria, and widely distributed among the Igbo speaking people, particularly Imo state. It is mainly used in soups and herbal medicines. The seed produced by the gourd are high in protein and fat, and can therefore contribute to a well-balanced diet. It is widely cultivated in the West and Central Africa (Benin Republic, Cameroon, Nigeria, Sierra Leone to Angola, and up to Uganda in east Africa). It is called ‘ugu’ by the Igbos, ‘ugwu’ by the Yorubas and ‘ekobon’ by the Cameroonians.
Considered an “oil seed”, the fluted gourd is high in oil (30%). The Shoots of T. occidentalis contain high levels of potassium and iron, while seeds are composed of 27% crude proteins and 53% fats. The leaves contain a high amount of antioxidants and hepatoprotective and antimicrobial properties.
Health Benefits of Ugu leaf (Telfairia occidentalis)
- The seed are used in making cakes which are high in protein and are suitable for fortifying foods
- Pregnant women suffering from anemia is advised to use the leaf to strengthen the blood
- The oil seeds have lactating properties and are therefore in high demand by women with young babies.
- The sliced young leaves mixed with coconut water and salt can be stored in bottle and used for the treatment of convulsion
- The Telfairia occidentalis juice used in the management of hyperchelsterolaemia, liver problems, and impaired immune system
- The Telfairia occidentalis juice has the potential to regenerate testicular damage and therefore can be used used to remedy reproductive and fertility issues
- Telfairia is high in anti- oxidant and free radical scavenger properties and that may contribute to why many use the leave extract in oxidative damage condition such as cancers, liver and liver diseases.
- Nursing mothers are advised to drink the Telfairia occidentalis juice in other to replenish lost blood, due to its high iron content
- The Telfairia occidentalis can also be used for the treatment of malaria
Read more: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3507126/