Pumpkin leaves are dark green leafy vegetables rich in water, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, iron, and magnesium, vitamins A, K, and folate.
Rene Tabaro, a nutritionist at King Faisal Hospital, says apart from a taste similar to a mixture of green beans, asparagus, broccoli and spinach, pumpkin leaf is a good source of nutrients, vitamins and minerals.
For instance, he says, it has been known that consuming 39 grams of pumpkin leaves offers 0.87 mg of iron, 0.081 mg of Vitamin B6, 0.138 mg of manganese and so forth.
He says pumpkin leaves are high in essential nutrients and low in calories and that they have numerous health benefits.
“Pumpkin leaves are high in essential vitamins such as A and C. While vitamin A improves eyesight and promotes healthy skin and hair, vitamin C helps in healing wounds and forming scar tissue, as well as maintaining healthy bones, skin, and teeth,” says Tabaro.
They contain a high amount of calcium which, Tabaro says, is crucial for healthy bones and teeth.
He goes on to add that woman, especially, need enough calcium to prevent osteoporosis and maintain strong bones, therefore, including pumpkin leaves in their diet can prevent such conditions.
Meanwhile, studies have also shown that calcium may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular failure.
Tabaro says these fibrous leaves are also high in iron, making them a healthy and beneficial addition to one’s diet.
Studies have shown that iron aids the muscles in storing and using oxygen, and also helps in carrying oxygen from the lungs to other parts of the body.
“Women and children, especially, need to maintain healthy levels of iron, and pumpkin leaves can help provide it naturally,” adds Tabaro.
The nutritionist notes that these leaves are also rich in protein, making them an excellent supplement for enhancing the body’s daily requirement.
Besides, pumpkin leaves are also believed to enhance lactation in nursing mothers, lower cholesterol and regulate blood sugar levels.
They are essential for a healthy body and it have many beneficial properties.
Erick Musengimana, a nutritionist at Rwanda Diabetes Association, Kigali, says pumpkin leaves contain plenty of soluble fibre.
He says that high intake of soluble fibre helps to reduce the absorption of cholesterol and bile acid from the small intestines, thus decreasing blood cholesterol levels.
He says that when soluble fibres are broken down by bacteria in the intestines, some fatty acids released are said to decrease the production of cholesterol by the liver.
By lowering blood cholesterol, fibres help to reduce the risk of heart disease.
Also, Musengimana says that pumpkin leaves contain plenty of potassium which helps to prevent irregular heartbeat and to reduce the risk of stroke.
Studies have shown that there is a link between increased fibre intake and a decrease in colon cancer.
And this is due to the fibre itself or the nutrients that are commonly in fibre-rich foods like vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and essential fatty acid, according to nutritionists.
Regular consumption of pumpkin leaves is, therefore, highly recommended.
As mentioned earlier, Musengimana says pumpkin leaf is rich in fibre which helps to add bulk to stool, making bowel movement easier for those having digestion problems.
“Fibre does this well. When plenty of fibre is consumed, the stool is large and soft, this encourages the muscles of the intestines to contract, pushing out the stool without the individual straining,” he adds.Follow Lydia_AtienoM