Ugu (Fluted Pumpkin) is a trilling plant grown for its leaves and seeds.
In this article, we are looking at the Ugu leaf, more detail about the Ugu seed in the next article,
To begin let’s describe the Ugu leaf
Description of the Ugu leaf
Its appearance :
- The Ugu leaf is dark green in colour, the shades may vary from plant to plant
- They come as three leaves from one stem.
- Ugu leaves have flat and compound blades,
- the leaves are not lobed and own smooth margins,
- and the veins are palmate with long petioles.
Its taste :
- Raw Ugu leaf taste is quite difficult to describe because it is not sweet,
- nor is it bitter or sour yet the taste is a bit unpleasant when chewed, the taste is not sharp,
- I can say it’s a bit bland.
- When cooked the taste is bland.
Ugu in Nigeria
In my country, Ugu is a popular leaf used and sold in major cities
The predominant users are the Igbo’s
And it’s cultivated much more in southeastern Nigeria where they dwell,
Other tribes make use of the Ugu leaf as well.
The leaf is used by about 30 million people in Nigeria.
There is also high demand for the leaf by Nigerians in the diaspora
Thereby creating an export window for the crop,
it’s exported to counties in Europe and America.
Nutritional facts of Ugu (Fluted Pumpkin) leaves
Proximate Composition of Ugu leaf of 100g
- Protein – 33.6%
- Moisture – 8.46%
- Fat – 0.86%
- Ash – 6.88%
- Fiber – 13.30%
- CHO – 36.82%
- Dry matter – 91.56%
- Energy kcal – 289.66%
- Sodium – 96.3mg
- Potassium – 352mg
- Calcium – 21mg
- Magnesium – 35mg
- I*ron – 3.8mg
- Zinc – 22.3mg
Vitamins present in Ugu leaf
Vitamin A, B Vitamins, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, vitamin k, folate, and riboflavin.
The major use for this leaf is food
The leaves are used in making different kinds of dishes
- Owerri soup
- Edikang Ikong
- Ugu and okro
- Bitter leaf soup
- Tomato sauce
- Palmoil and Ugu sauce
- Yam porridge
The Ugu leaf is sometimes substituted with other leaves when cooking some of the above meals
But it is still preferable.
The leaves process some medicinal properties one of which is
It’s blood building property making it the first choice for anemic patients
The leaf is high in antioxidants, hepatoprotective, and antimicrobial properties.
The leaf is used in making food supplements for animals like birds and fishes such as catfish,
because of the high amount of protein it possesses
The stems are also given to animals for food.
The stem when decomposed serves as organic fertilizer (manure) enriching the soil.
Have Healing Properties
The antioxidant and vitamin C content in the leaf
help to speed up the healing process and end minor aliment.
Fluted pumpkin leaf processes iron,
this is a major component that prevents and treats iron deficiency anemia.
Improves Male fertility
They promote spermatogenesis (increased sperm count),
this is a result of the antioxidant properties which include oleic acid, vitamin A, Alkaloids, tannins, and linoleic acid
found in the leaves.
Improves Female fertility
Experts say that the oil of the Ugu leaf maintains the general
anatomy of the female reproductive organs.
Increase milk production
They help increase the production of milk for a breastfeeding mum.
Lowers Blood sugar
The presence of polysaccharides and ethyl acetate in the leaf helps
to lower blood sugar making it good for diabetic patients.
Boost the Immune system
It contains lots of vitamin and mineral, which helps to boost immunity.
Preparing Ugu leaf (Fluted Pumpkin) for food
Optimizing the nutrient in Ugu vegetables is key to getting the best from it,
once you have grown the crop or purchased it from a good source.
The preparation of the vegetable for food impacts the preservation of the nutrient
You don’t want to eat vegetables and not enjoy the nutritional benefit
Wash the Ugu leaf before shredding: the vitamins in the Ugu leaves are water-soluble, in other to have them intact
wash the vegetables whole, Cut vegetables when washed lose lots of the nutrients.
Cook on low heat: Subjecting the vegetable to high heat leads to a reduction of the nutrients.
Maintain short cooking time: Do not cook the vegetable for long, but ensure it’s cooked to avoid contamination, one
way to achieve this is to add the vegetable last when cooking. 10 – 20 minutes is fine, this will vary depending on the
quantity of the vegetable cooked.
Now that you know more about the Ugu leaf are you considering growing this vegetable at home?
See a step-by-step guide on how to grow the Ugu plant.