Pumpkin scientifically known as Cucurbita moschata Duchesne is a creeping vine which has large alternate, simple, ovate-cordate- sub orbicular leaves of 20–25 × 25–30 cm. Pumpkin leaf is a dark green leafy vegetable found in the tropics, rich in water, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, iron and magnesium, vitamins A , K and folate. It is used for various soups in the West African sub-region. Squash & Pumpkin leaves are indeed, edible. In many parts of the world, including Asia and Africa, they are a regular part of the diet when available. The taste is similar to a mixture of green beans, asparagus, broccoli and spinach. Since it is a good source of food and is commonly consumed in Korea and Malaysia and other places like Africa, Pacific islands, Italy, Guam, India, Bangladesh, even in the UK, and other places around the world.
Pumpkin is considered to have originated from Mexico and Central America. Before the Europeans arrival, it was widely cultivated in South and North America. The evidence was found by archaeologists that the cultivation and domestication of Cucurbita moschata dated from 4,000–3,000 B.C. in Peruvian sites and from 1440–400 B.C. in Mexican sites.
Apart from their taste similar to a mixture of green beans, asparagus, broccoli and spinach pumpkin leaf is a good source of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Consuming 39 gram of pumpkin leaves offers 0.87 mg of Iron,0.081 mg of Vitamin B6, 0.138 mg of Manganese,41 mg of Phosphorus, 0.052 mg of Copper,38 µg of Vitamin A,4.3 mg of Vitamin c. Moreover many Amino acids 0.016 g of Tryptophan, 0.061 g of Threonine, 0.061 g of Isoleucine, 0.124 g of Leucine, 0.078 g of Lysine are also found in 39 gram of pumpkin leaves.
Health benefits of Pumpkin Leaves
Pumpkin leaves are healthy and delicious, and is also loaded with iron, manganese, that is an important mineral for a lot of bodily processes. Apart from that pumpkin leaves also include several calcium, vitamin C, vitamin A and B vitamins, in addition to magnesium, phosphorus and copper. They are essential for a healthy body and it has many beneficial properties, listed below are few of the popular benefits of regular consumption of pumpkin leaves:
1. Promote the health of the heart
Pumpkin leaves contain plenty of soluble fiber; high intake of soluble fiber helps to reduce the absorption of cholesterol and bile acid from the small intestines, thus decreasing blood cholesterol level. When soluble fibers 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, fibers help to reduce the risk of heart disease.
Pumpkin leaves also contain plenty of potassium which helps to prevent irregular heart beat and to reduce risk of stroke.
2. Immune System
Iron which is found abundantly in pumpkin leaves plays an important role in providing strength to the immune system of the human body. Thus, the body becomes capable to fight against a number of diseases and infections. Red blood cells are essential for providing oxygen to damaged tissues, organs, and cells. Without it, there would be no hemoglobin; without hemoglobin, there would be no oxygen. The healing process needs iron to happen!
3. Ensures Soft and Supple Skin
Pumpkin leaf consists of 38 µg of Vitamin A which is 5.43% of the daily recommended value. Therefore consuming vitamin A rich foods helps to keep body free from free radicals and toxins, which might cause damage to your skin. It helps to keep the skin soft and supple by ensuring moisture retention, thus preventing dryness, keratinization and skin conditions like psoriasis.
4. Fight against cancer
Pumpkin leaf like other green vegetables is rich in fibers; several researches in the last three decades have shown a link between increased fiber in-take and a decrease in colon cancer. It is due to the fiber itself or the nutrients that are commonly in fiber-rich foods like vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and essential fatty acid. Regular consumption of pumpkin leaves is extremely recommended and this is easily possible in West Africa through soups.
5. Reduce Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Low levels of vitamin B6 are related with increased symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), like severe pain. Earlier research has discovered that people with RA need more vitamin B6 compared to healthy people because they experience constant muscle aches and joint pain because of chronic inflammation. Vitamin B6 rich foods helps in curbing pain and can be useful in supplement form for controlling aches in the muscles and joints due to arthritis.
6. Strengthen our bones
Pumpkin leaf consists of huge amount of calcium and phosphorus which are essential for the bones and teeth of our body. We must consume enough of them daily to confirm strong bones, proper growth and good teeth development. It also avoid stiff joint and bone pain.
7. Alleviating PMS Syndrome
Many women suffer from premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Therefore, manganese can be useful to reduce these monthly situations like mood swings, headaches, depression and irritability. Women who suffer from severe PMS symptoms are advised to consume manganese supplements as well as manganese rich foods. Pumpkin leaf is one of the wonderful options to obtain required amount of manganese through your dietary supplement.
8. Prevent constipation
As mentioned earlier pumpkin leaf is rich in fiber which helps to adds bulk to stool, making bowel movement easier. Insoluble fiber does this well. When plenty of fiber 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 himself.
With little fiber in the food, the stool is usually small and hard and therefore needs force to come out. Regular straining during the passage of faeces can lead to piles (haemorrhoids) and other conditions like pouches (diverticulosis) in the large intestines. Piles can lead to anaemia due to bleeding. So include pumpkin leaf in your regular diet to obtain required amount of fiber and prevents constipations.
9. Helps Maintain Dental Health
As we have stated before phosphorus is important for bones, it is equally important for maintaining teeth and gum health. Calcium, vitamin D and phosphorus all play a role in the formation and maintenance of dental health by supporting tooth enamel, jaw-bone mineral density and holding the teeth in place, too — therefore, these minerals and vitamins can also help heal tooth decay.
10. Helps Prevent Premature Aging
Copper present in pumpkin leaves are a powerful antioxidant, which works in the presence of the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase to defend the cell membranes from free radicals. Superoxide dismutase is one of the strongest antioxidants that work within the body in the fight against free radicals. Free radicals attack many organ systems, but are specially well-studied in terms of their effect on aging, like wrinkles, age spots, susceptibility to numerous types of cancer, macular degeneration, and kidney malfunctions. Having sufficient copper in your daily diet can keep you looking younger for longer!