Bwari (Abuja), June 5, 2019
A Nutritionist, Mrs Kemi Adegoke-Abraham, has advised Nigerians to take advantage of including vegetables in their meals to promote a healthy diet while also reducing the risk of vitamins deficiency.
Adegoke-Abraham gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Kubwa, Abuja, on Wednesday.
She said that since most vegetables blossom during the rainy season and are best consumed fresh, one should eat as much as one could afford before the dry season, when they would be scarce and almost unaffordable.
“The high protein content of vegetables like fluted pumpkin, popularly known as `Ugu’ leaves, can have supplementary effect for the daily protein requirement of the body.
“Fluted pumpkin boosts blood level because the leaves are rich in iron; the vegetable plays a key role in the cure of anaemia.
“It also has lactating properties which is very good and recommended for nursing mothers.
“Now that they are in season, it is best to eat them fresh and well prepared,’’ Adegoke-Abraham said.
She explained that vegetables as `Ugu’ leaves could effectively be used to fight and prevent diseases like kwashiorkor as a result of malnutrition in children.
According to Adegoke-Abraham, vegetables like Jute leaves, popularly known as ‘ewedu’ leaves, also contain Vitamins A, C and E, which she explained were key in the protection of the body from diseases.
“Ewedu is another one that is a good source of fibre, which helps in dealing with weight management and may also promote digestive health, especially with bowel movement.
“The leaves help boost immunity and nourish the body system. `Ewedu’ increases production of collagen in order to keep the skin firm and smooth and is rich in beta-carotene for good sight,’’ she said.
She said that ewedu leaves are high in calcium content; good for healthy bones and teeth; boosts the immune system; lowers blood pressure; cholesterol and good for heart health and diabetes.
Other vegetables she encouraged are, spinach, water leaves, lettuce, cabbage, cucumber as well as fruits such as watermelon and oranges.
A fluted pumpkin trader in Dutse Market, Mrs Uche Felix, said the demand for the leaves had soared as more people had discovered the richness of the leaves.
She said: “They have since found it suitable for almost every meal, especially for growing children.
“Now mothers have a way of making good stew sauce with `Ugu’ in it for children to take to school, which is good.
“Unlike before, when we get supplies from the east, now a lot of our women here in Abuja are involved in farming some of these vegetables; we have some situated in Kubwa here.
“Our main challenge is that these vegetables are easily perishable even though patronage is high.
“One cannot store them for long after harvest and even the consumer needs to eat them fresh, so it is best sold fresh. That is when most customers like it.’’
According to her, when in season, a fair bundle of spinach and fluted pumpkin leaves sells for as low as N50, while water leaves go for N100 per bundle.
“In the dry season, water leaves go up to N200 for same bundle while others are scarce,’’ Felix said.