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The potential of cucurbita species (pumpkin) as dietary adjunct in the management of diabetes: their qualifying medicinal and pharmacological properties

Author: 
Utoh-Nedosa, Uchechukwu, A., Anowi Chinedu, F., Nedosa, Kenechi, S. and Uzondu Akueyinwa, L. E.
Subject Area: 
Health Sciences
Abstract: 

Diabetes Mellitus is characterized by increased frequency of urination (polyuria) and increased appetite (polyphagia) due to loss of glucose. As a result of a parallel exponential increase in the incidence of diabetes and fatality due to diabetes vis-à-vis the disappearance of the pumpkin-eating culture of the native Igbo populations of Eastern Nigeria since the late 1960s, this study investigated the effect of admixed ground pumpkin flesh on the texture, particle size and carbohydrate content of a protein food, Voandzeia subterranean seed flour paste meal, as a possible adjunt diet in diabetes management; The paste formed from a mixture of Voandzeia subterranean seed flour; palm oil; cold, warm or hot water and sodium chloride were deep-fried in scoops, alone or were mixed with cooked or ground raw pumpkin and deep-fried to produce a composite meal. Blended-in sliced onions or sliced leafy vegetables of Ocimum gratissimum, Ocimum basilicum, lufa cylindrica or ground Zingiber officinale were included as additional enrichments of the meal but were not essential factors in the study. A comparism of the fried cakes of the Voandzeia subterranean seed flour paste alone with the fried cakes of the Voandzeia subterranean seed flour mixed with ground flesh of pumpkin showed that the flesh of cooked or ground raw pumpkin softened the texture of the Voandzeia subterranean seed flour cake; eliminated particulation of the fried Voandzeia subterranean seed flour paste cake; made the consistency of the cake homogenous; reduced the carbohydrate nature of the cake; increased the protein content of the cake and reduced its shelf life. The efficacy of pumpkin (Cucurbitaceae) species in the remission of diabetes is exemplified by Momordica charantia (which is itself a Cucurbita specie),fruit, juice or powder which several studies reported that they produced decreases in blood glucose levels and/or improvements in the glucose-tolerance tests of diabetic patients who received various doses of them. And, since the flesh of Cucurbita spicies have been found to contain 0.5-1.5% protein; calcium, phosphorus; Iron; traces of vitamin B and C and vitamin A in yellow-fleshed forms, the results of this study enable us to conclude that the flesh (and leaves) of pumpkin species should be incorporated with or eaten alongside largely protein meals for the efficacious remission of diabetes.

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