Ukpo seed, scientifically known as Mucuna Sloanei, or Mucuna flagellipes is popular in Nigeria. However, it’s commonly known as hamburger beans.
This seed belongs to the family of Fabaceae (legume plants), and it’s mainly cultivated in tropical regions. Ukpo seed is majorly used as a soup thickener; however, its benefits aren’t just limited to its thickening abilities.
Ukpo has some impressive health benefits, making it one of the most sought-after in these regions. This article discusses the nutritional composition and health benefits of ukpo seed.
Nutritional Composition of Ukpo Seeds (Mucuna Sloanei)
A 2004 study on the nutritional properties of ukpo seeds revealed that it contains crude protein, fibre, fat, and ash. The phytochemicals in the seeds were alkaloids, flavonoids, tannins, phytic acid, and trypsin inhibitors.
6 Amazing Health Benefits Of Ukpo Seeds (Mucuna Sloanei)
Below are some of the potential health benefits of ukpo seeds:
1. Prevents Hypertension
A 2018 study was done to investigate the antihypertensive effects of ethanolic extract of Mucuna flagellipes seed on salt-induced hypertension on Sprague-dawley rats. The study showed that the different doses of the Mucuna flagellipes seeds possess significant antihypertensive effects. The result of the study, therefore, suggests that the seeds might possess significant antihypertensive effects though not as potent as amlodipine. Further research is therefore recommended on these effects on humans.
2. Cancer Prevention
According to some studies, ukpo seeds can also prevent the risk of developing cancer. Preventing cancer growth in the human body is linked with antioxidants that are richly found in mucuna. These antioxidants help reduce or prevent the development of free radicals, which cause the growth of tumors.
Free radicals are said to be the contributors to many chronic health problems. Some of the physical complications caused by free radicals include cardiovascular and inflammatory disease, cataracts, and cancer.
Furthermore, a 2021 study investigated the effects of mucuna sloanei seed extract on some haematological indices in monosodium glutamate (MSG) Intoxicated albino rats. The study found out that mucuna sloanei seed extract can alleviate the deleterious effects of MSG on the blood cells.
3. Prevent Constipation
Adding ukpo seed to your regular meal can help you to avoid constipation. It contains a good amount of carbohydrates and dietary fiber. It’s said that dietary fiber can help in stooling situations.
4. Anti-inflammatory Properties
Ukpo seeds are very effective in protecting your cells from injury and damage. People claim the seeds contain active compounds known for destroying harmful substances capable of causing inflammation. In other words, it is not a bad idea to incorporate it into your daily meal.
5. Maintain Blood Sugar Level
The dietary fiber found in ukpo seed can be used to control the amount of glucose that goes into the bloodstream. Aside from reducing the high glucose absorption, it can also speed up insulin sensitivity. Insulin can help to regulate blood and sugar levels.
6. Maintains Cholesterol Levels
Mucuna sloanei are known to help maintain a good level of cholesterol. This is why nutritionists often advocate eating it. The dietary fiber found in it is a crucial factor in controlling the cholesterol level in the body system.
Ukpo seeds flour are used as thickeners for soups in many rural communities in Nigeria. According to some medical research, ukpo seeds are said to have health benefits such as preventing cancer, protecting the heart, as well as maintaining good cholesterol and sugar levels. However, more research has to be done be to explore the health effects of the seeds on humans.
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