Sesame leaves are known as karkashi leaves in Hausa, ewe-atura in Yoruba, and Beni in Tiv. They are the leaves of the sesame plant, also known as the Sesamum indicum plant. They can be found in tropical and subtropical areas of Asia, Africa, and South America.
Karkashi leaves are mostly used by the Hausa tribe in the Northern part of Nigeria. They are used to prepare karkashi soup which is known as Miyan karkashi, a staple food amongst the Hausas. They are aromatic and possess a unique, nutty fragrance.
All the parts of the sesame plant, from the seed to the leaves, are beneficial to human health. However, in this article, we will discuss the nutritional value and health benefits of sesame leaves (karkashi leaves).
Nutritional Value Of Karkashi Leaves
Like other leaves, karkashi leaves contain essential nutrients needed for the proper development and function of the body.
Karkashi leaves are rich in essential nutrients and vitamins, such as vitamin C, iron, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, magnesium, manganese, sodium, fiber, and protein. They also contain low levels of fats and cholesterol.
They contain phytochemicals, such as oxalate, tannins, and phytic acid.
Health Benefits Of Karkashi Leaves
Below are some of the health benefits of karkashi leaves, based on its nutritional profile.
1. Great source of protein
Karkashi leaves contain a significant amount of protein. Protein plays numerous roles in the body. It is one of the essential nutrients needed by the body.
Protein is needed by the body for the growth, maintenance, and proper functioning of tissues. The body breaks down the same amount needed to build and repair tissues.
Sometimes, the body breaks down more protein than it can create. This causes an increase in the body’s needs. Therefore, a source of protein is required.
All of the enzymes in the body are made up of proteins. Enzymes are proteins that aid the biochemical reactions that take place in the body. It also acts as a messenger.
It provides the structure of tissues and cells, helps balance the fluid in the body, it maintains proper pH, and it boosts the immune system.
2. Good source of calcium
Most times, calcium is associated with bones and teeth development. However, calcium plays many important roles in the body.
It helps the blood to clot quickly, aids in the contraction and relaxation of the muscles, improves cholesterol levels, aids proper functioning of the nerves, and regulates normal heart rhythms.
Karkashi leaves contain calcium at the appropriate level needed by the body. Almost all the calcium in the body is stored in the bones, while the remaining is found in the blood, muscles, and tissues.
3. Aids in weight loss and digestion
These leaves aid in weight loss and improve digestion. This is due to the fiber and water content of the leaves.
The fiber content present in the leaves makes the stomach full quickly, and it makes the food last a while before digestion. This helps in weight loss because with the stomach being full, you don’t have to consume more food, and it also makes you consume fewer calories.
It provides the gut with digestive enzymes, and it helps the food move along faster, thereby improving digestion. Due to its antimicrobial properties, it helps prevent and treat digestion and gut health conditions like diarrhea and dysentery.
4. May enhance fertility
Karkashi leaves are rich in zinc which is an essential mineral in improving fertility. It aids fertility in females by stimulating ovulation and raising libido.
It also aids fertility in males because it affects the release of testosterone and the amount of sperm released at once.
In a 2007 study, it was discovered that intake of sesame leaves improved and increased sperm product in adult male rats. Hence, it could be useful in boosting fertility.
5. Rich source of iron
Karkashi leaves are a great source of iron which is an essential mineral in the body.
Lack of iron can result in anemia, which is the most common nutritional deficiency in the world. It causes extreme fatigue and lightheadedness.
Iron is responsible for the adequate distribution of oxygen from the lungs to tissues. It is also involved in metabolism as a component of some enzymes and proteins.
6. Possesses antimicrobial properties
Karkashi or sesame leaves have also been said to show antimicrobial activities.
A 2006 study investigated the antimicrobial activity of the various crude leaves extracts of Sesame against some common pathogenic micro-organisms. The study found that sesame leaves inhibited the growth of Streptococcus pneumoniae and Candida albicans.
Karkashi leaves are a popular leaves used in preparing some Nigerian delicacies. The leaves are rich in various nutrients and possess some health benefits.
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