Vegetable soup is a popular delicacy in Nigeria. It is prepared with fluted pumpkin leaves (Telfairia occidentalis).
Pumpkin leaf, also known as ugu by Nigerian Igbos, is an edible leafy vegetable that is extremely good for the body. This vegetable improves digestion while also assisting in the overall balance of your diet. Ugu vegetable got their origin in West Africa and is commonly found in Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon, and Sierra Leone.
In contrast to other seasonal vegetables, Ugu is accessible year-round. In addition, each ethnic group has its own name for this vegetable. Sokoyoto is the Yoruba name, Kabewa is the Hausa name, and Ikong-ubong is the Efik name.
Vegetable soup is also prepared with animal protein such as fish, snail, or meat. Other ingredients added to it are water leaf, bell peppers, crayfish, onions, palm oil, and periwinkles.
Nutritional Value of Vegetable Soup (Ugu)
Vegetable soup has various nutritional components that are vital to the body’s functioning. Because the soup is prepared with various healthy ingredients, it is very nutrient-dense and healthy. The leaves, which are the major ingredient, contain a high amount of antioxidants. The following are some of these nutrients and vitamins in vegetable soup:
- Vitamin A, C, and E
- Folic Acid.
Health Benefits of Vegetable (Ugu) Soup
Below are some of the health benefits of vegetable soup (ugu) based on its ingredients and nutritional value.
1. Rich in antioxidants
In recent studies, it was discovered that fluted pumpkin leaves are abundant in antioxidants that exhibit anticancer, anti-oxidative, and superoxide effects. That means that it can help fight oxidative stress and reduce the risk of cancer.
The leaves of Telfairia occidentalis also contain chemo-suppressive properties, including chlorophyll, phenolic compounds, saponins, tannins, flavonoids, glycosides, and phytosterols – all of which help in fighting against cancer.
2. Protects the liver
According to a 2007 study, the leaves of fluted pumpkins were said to have hepatoprotective properties or liver-protecting abilities. They contained powerful polyphenols which might protect the body from liver damage. Hence, eating vegetable soup might be good for the liver.
3. Promotes healthy skin and hair
For healthy skin and hair, vitamins A and C are required in the body system. Hence, consuming ugu regularly provides you with healthy hair and skin.
4. Boosts blood production
Vegetable soup is recommended for patients who suffer from a shortage of blood. The leaves have often been used by traditional healers to increase blood production. Because of the presence of iron and other nutritional components, it contributes to boosting blood in the body system.
In fact, according to a 2016 study that investigated the anti-anaemic activities of the leaves, it was revealed that the leaves possess anti-anaemic activity and validated their uses as haematinics by traditional healers.
5. Improves digestive health
Vegetable soup is one of the healthy Nigerian foods that are good for the digestive system. They are rich in fibre, which promotes healthy digestion and supports good bowel movement.
6. May help in the treatment of convulsions
According to some research, ugu leaves might be useful in treating convulsions. In a 2013 study, it was discovered that leaf extract of Telfairia occidentalis possesses anticonvulsant and muscle relaxant properties. This means that it might be effective in treating convulsion in children.
7. Reduces stress
Yes! Eating vegetable soup can help you relax and help reduce stress. In one 2013 study, it was suggested that fluted pumpkin leaves possessed anxiolytic and sedative properties. That means they can be used to reduce anxiety and relax. Thus, a plate of vegetable soup can help you destress after a hectic day.
8. Good for weight loss
Naturally, vegetables have little or no calories, which makes them effective for weight management. Hence, vegetable soup helps you to lose weight by eliminating the chances of storing calories in the body. Furthermore, they are rich in dietary fibre and protein, which help you feel fuller and eat less.
There are many other amazing health benefits of vegetable soup. You can also find out the health benefits of fluted pumpkin leaves. However, from this article, we have learned that vegetable soup is very healthy and should be eaten regularly.
Effective ways to Preserve Vegetable (Ugu)
To avoid a decline in quality and nutritional content, use pumpkin leaf as soon as possible after collecting it. However, there are a number of options for preserving your vegetables (Ugu).
- By freezing the food and keeping it in freezer bags
- Using the sun to dry pumpkin leaves
- Chop the leaves and soak them in boiling water for three or four minutes to keep their vibrant colors, then drain and sundry them.
There are several factors you have to consider when using vegetables. These factors include the following:
- Make sure you get the fresh ones because they have more nourishment.
- Before slicing ugu, be sure to properly clean the leaves under running water.
- To assist chewing, slice your ugu very thinly; the narrower, the better.