Botanically known as (Talinum Fruticosum or Talinum triangulare) and commonly known as Waterleaf, Waterleaf is a herbaceous annual and perennial plant with light green edible leaves. It is scientifically classified as a weed and is extremely abundant in rainy season, easily propagated by cuttings and by seeds; it is quick growing and has a short life cycle making it a highly perishable vegetable.
Waterleaf originated from tropical Africa and is widely grown in West Africa, Asia, and South America respectively. In Nigeria, It is called Gbure in Yoruba; Mgbolodi in Igbo, in Edo, it is regarded as Ebe-dondon. It has succulent stems ranging from 30 – 100cm heights and is often harvested from the wild for local consumption and cultivated in various parts of the tropics for its edible leaves. It is sometimes planted as an ornamental pot plant or as an edging plant in gardens.
Waterleaf is particularly grown in larger scales by most rural and urban farmers in some African countries not just for personal consumption but also as a means of livelihood due to the peculiar nature of its profitability to these farmers. Recorded among these unique benefits are; (1) that it is a short duration crop which is usually due for harvest between 35-45 days after planting. (2) That it is used as a “softener” when cooking fibrous vegetables such as Afang (Gnetum africanum), Atama (Heinsia crinata), and fluted pumpkin (Telferia occidentalis). (3) That the leaves and young shoots serve as a thickening agent to sauces causing it to be consumed in large quantities in the Southern part of Nigeria. The rather increasing domestic demand and supply gap of this product has made it a unique opportunity for farmers who have found the time and the need to grow them in larger quantities.
Waterleaf can grow to 5 feet by some accounts, and has simple pink flowers. It is an excellent source of iron, zinc, and molybdenum.
Waterleaf is a rich source of the essential nutrients Calcium, Phosphorus, Iron, and Vitamin C.
It is also a good source of:
Nutrients per Serving
Every 100 grams of waterleaf contains approximately:
The main concern when it comes to eating too much waterleaf stems from its oxalate content. Too much oxalate can be unhealthy for individuals with kidney disease. As such, those individuals should refrain from consuming raw waterleaf. Cooked waterleaf has approximately 50 percent less soluble oxalate than its raw counterpart.
Otherwise, waterleaf is a healthy food that is low in both calories and sugar. Generally, it’s a good idea to try to eat three to four servings of vegetables per day.
Waterleaf is a fantastic vegetable if you want to be able to grow your own food. While it grows best in tropical climates, it can be cultivated anywhere with a hot, humid growing season. Keeping the plant well-watered and at least partially shaded will accelerate growth.
Soil should be well drained. Standing water is detrimental to the plant. Waterleaf also needs nitrogen to be healthy. If the leaves begin to yellow, it may mean there’s insufficient nitrogen in the soil.
After waterleaf is harvested it can be eaten immediately, dried, or kept in a plastic bag in a refrigerator to maintain freshness. It can be prepared in much the same way as spinach, and is popular for soups, stews, stir fries, and pizza. It can also be enjoyed raw, though it is recommended not to do so in large quantities.
Some popular waterleaf recipes include:
HEALTH BENEFITS OF WATERLEAF
Research indicates that eating a diet rich in vitamin C reduces the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and slows age-related cognitive decline. Waterleaf is an excellent source of vitamin C, with about 31 mg for every 100 grams of vegetable matter.
Regular consumption of this vegetable has a good effect on the cognitive ability because of the presence of certain constituents which helps to improve cerebral blood flow and cognitive function.
And due to its ability to improve the flow of blood, it helps the brain to function adequately by supplying it with adequate oxygen as well in order to prevent/improve Cerebral Hypoperfusion, Schizophrenia as well as the death of the brain tissues.
The presence of iron which is a micronutrient found in waterleaf helps also in the strengthening of the brain muscles and tissues which helps in the improvement of the human brain, thereby improving the cognitive reasoning as well.
The crude protein contained in waterleaf is an important supplement both in quality and nutritional perspective which plays a very important role in the human blood cell.
It functions when it comes to blood cells in the body can’t be overemphasized. It is believed to help in the adequate pumping of blood and its supply and as such is used in many cases such as in the treatment of anemia.
It generally helps in improving the blood cells which includes both the white and red blood cells, and with the content of iron as well helps in this case.
Waterleaves, when consumed on a daily basis, perform a key role in maintaining the cardiovascular system.
It helps to keep the heart healthy by regulating the activities of the heart and reduce the risk of related heart diseases as well as stroke by adequately supply of blood and oxygen to the needed areas.
It also helps in reducing the cholesterol levels in the blood, which is good for the prevention and improvement of heart-related conditions.
Contain certain properties such as antibacterial properties, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties that help to suppress the growth of bacteria, fungi and inflammatory diseases in the body.
It has been proven effective for the treatment of some diseases like Atherosclerosis which results as the arteries in the body is been accumulated with fats and cholesterols thereby making the walls of the artery to be narrow.
This makes the blood flow to be interrupted and can even cause a total blockage in the artery thereby leading to many health conditions like stroke, heart attack and more.
Waterleaf consumption has been locally used in the treatment and prevention of this health condition, for more effective results, the leaf should be washed and properly squeezed to extract the juice which has to be taken orally.
There is no measurement for the quantity of waterleaf juice to be taken but it should be moderate.
They are a good source of vitamins such as A and C which helps to repair the body tissues and promote good eye vision.
One of the main functions of vitamin C is to help in the normal body tissues repair and growth, it acts as an antioxidant as it prevents oxidative stress which is caused by the free radicals from damaging the body cells and tissues.
It makes the skin smoother and prevent dryness, as well as helps in the formation and improvement of the skin pigment.
Waterleaf is an excellent source of calcium and phosphorus, both of which are essential for healthy bones. The presence of calcium in this vegetable helps in maintaining strong bones and teeth, in general, gives support to the body skeletal structure and improve skeletal function.
Calcium is very vital in the formation of bones in the body, and the content of this mineral in waterleaf makes it one of the foods suitable for those who have bone conditions such as osteoporosis, fracture, and more, as it can help in its improvement.
Waterleaves are an excellent vegetable that is 100% healthy for the body even when consumed together with the stem which helps to reduce constipation and aid in proper digestion of food.
Problems with indigestion seem to alleviate when waterleaf is eaten and helps to soften the stool as well but when eaten in excess can cause a little stomach discomfort.
It serves as a weight loss diet due to the amount of fiber content in it. But should be taken on a regular basis either used in a salad or steamed to a certain temperature.
The fiber content makes the stomach fuller thereby eliminating the chances of craving for more food, its water content also helps in this case, which makes it one of the vegetables to be added to our daily meal for proper weight management.
In as much as it helps to improve weight, we have to also eat healthy at all times for the effectiveness of this nutrient.
Waterleaf has a great effect on the blood which makes it one of the vegetables which have to be incorporated into our daily meal due to its effectiveness.
It helps in the improvement of blood clotting and prevents new ones from forming just like thrombus which might be formed in ones of the blood vessels interfering with the flow of blood.
Though thrombus can be termed healthy when it functions to stop bleeding on injuries by making the blood to form a clot but can be termed unhealthy when the clot formation tends to block the blood vessels.
Therefore, the intake of waterleaf in whatever form can help prevent such occurrences and even help improve existing ones due to their anti-inflammatory properties and others.
Vegetables are essential for overall health which includes the eye as well, as they mostly contain vitamin A which functions to improve the eye health.
Waterleaf contains vitamin A which helps to enhance vision in poor light and as well helps in the improvement of the skeletal tissue and the skin due to its content of vitamin A1 as known as Retinol.
Vitamin A can help in providing the eye with the necessary nutrients which it needs to prevent some of the eye-related conditions like cataracts, macular degeneration and more. Therefore, the intake of waterleaf in the right amount will result in a healthy eye.
Waterleaf also contains vitamin C which helps to maintain a healthy eye by preventing the retina from damages which might be caused by free radicals and other health conditions that affect the eyes like dry eyes, conjunctival hemorrhages, and even cataracts.
Waterleaf is an excellent dietary source of iron. Iron deficiency can range from mild to severe. Those who experience milder symptoms benefit the most from shifting to an iron-rich diet
Nutritional Values of Waterleaf
The below table is based on 2000 Calorie Diets
Waterleaf is rich in Vitamin C, Protein, Calcium, Iron, Pectin, Vitamin A, as well as other essential nutrients and minerals.
Where is WaterLeaf Grown?
Waterleaf is a native to West Africa, Central America, Caribbean, and Mexico where its cultivation is believed too have started before migrating to other tropical areas like some parts of North and South America, and Asia.
In many places where it is grown, it has names allocated to it which include Lagos bologi (Nigeria), Philippine spinach (Philippines), Surinam Purslane, Ceylon spinach, Florida spinach and more.
Waterleaf is best cultivated during the raining season and posses a short lifespan which could be less than 4 months.
Most people may not be versatile with waterleaf juice as it is mainly used in cooking serving as an important vegetable in many local cuisines in Nigeria.
The juice of waterleaf is very beneficial to health and is effective in increasing the blood level and also in the treatment of many health conditions which has proven successful.
To get the juice;
Alternatively, some grinding machines like a blender can do this work, but in case there is none the above method should be considered.
Is Waterleaf Good in Pregnancy?
Waterleaf is most times called the “blood-pumping machines” as it plays a vital role in the adequate production of blood in the human body.
It is good for pregnant women as it helps increase their blood levels and as well, supply them with other vital nutrients that the body needs.
Culinary Uses of Waterleaf
Waterleaves are generally good and beneficial to human health. The uses are versatile such as for culinary purposes, they are used to prepare waterleaf soup, waterleaf stew or sauce, yam, salad and more.
In the southern part of Nigeria, waterleaf is used in making special soup known as Edikang Ikong and Afang (predominant in Cross River and Akwa Ibom), Mgbolodi Soup and more.
Waterleaves have been used in many ways serving diverse ranges of medicinal purposes. In this case, its juice, stem, leaves, and roots are all considered effective as they have proven successful in the treatment of measles.
It can also treat insomnia, anemia, malaria, arthritis reduce blood sugar and blood pressure. It is also used in the treatment of diarrhea, improve weakness and more.
This vegetable also helps to promote brain function, maintain skin health, prevent cancer, bladder stone, and more. On the contrary, consumption should be limited in people suffering from kidney disorders and gout.
It is effective for improving constipation just as most vegetable does but when it is eaten in excess can cause stomach upset and frequent stooling.
Waterleaf should not be underrated, as it has many benefits which it has to offer when we consume it adequately. Its richness in many vitamins and minerals makes it one of the vegetables we should add to our daily meal for an effective result.
NUTRITIONAL BENEFITS OF WATERLEAF
UNKNOWN HAZARDS ABOUT WATERLEAF
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