The nutritional and medicinal values of gboma leaves are amazing plant food for the health and fitness of the body. The leafy vegetable is common in food markets around Ghana.
The gboma leaf is a favourite and highly valued vegetable in everyday food of people of the Ewe ethnic group in West Africa, where its name gboma comes from. Indeed, the gboma plant (Solanum macrocarpon) is grown in other places on the African continent, the Caribbean and Asia for its leaves and fruit.
Gboma leaves constitute a favourite complement to Okro (okra) in preparing the ever popular tasty okro soup, also a highly desired complement to akple and banku dishes.
Normally, the young gboma leaves are cooked in sauces and soups together with other ingredients. Sometimes the leaves are eaten as a separate dish. Its somewhat bitter taste adds a much desired flavour to soups.
The leafy gboma plant, usually is grown on small farms for the market and in home gardens. The gboma plant is a shrub that grows up to 1.5m tall, with mildly broad alternating leaves up to 15cm.
The amazing nutritional and medicinal values of gboma leaves are well documented in several studies. The composition of gboma leaves is comparable to that of other dark green leaf vegetables. Gboma leaves contain per 100 g edible portion:
|176 kJ (42 kcal)
Proteins are one of the important building blocks of body tissue, bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. Proteins are important for the growth of new cells and repairs. Your body also uses protein to make enzymes, hormones, and other essential body chemicals. They can also serve as a fuel source.
Carbohydrates are the sugars, starches and fibers found in vegetables, fruits, grains, beans, milk products, etc. Carbohydrates are a primary source of food your body uses for energy. They are called carbohydrates because, at the chemical level, they contain carbon, hydrogen and oxygen.
Dietary fibre is a type of carbohydrate, the indigestible parts of plant foods, such as vegetables, fruits, grains and beans. Unlike other carbohydrates, fibre cannot be broken down into sugar molecules, and instead it passes through the body undigested. Fibre helps regulate the body’s use of sugars, helping to keep hunger and blood sugar in check. Also, it absorbs water to help to soften the contents of our bowels and support regular bowel movements.
Calcium is needed by the body to maintain strong bones and to carry out many important functions. About 99% of the calcium in our bodies is in our bones and teeth. The body also needs calcium for muscles to move and for nerves to carry messages between the brain and every body part. In addition, calcium is used to help blood vessels move blood throughout the body and to help release hormones and enzymes that affect almost every function in the human body.
Phosphorus is a mineral that is part of every cell in your body. It is found mainly in your bones and teeth. Phosphorus works with calcium and other nutrients to build healthy bones and teeth.
However, some of the nutrient content of gboma leaves may be reduced significantly when the various conventional food processing techniques, including boiling and frying, are applied.
The leaves, fruits and roots are known to have a variety of medicinal uses. For instance, in Sierra Leone, heated leaves are chewed to treat throat infections. The fruits are taken as a laxative and to treat cardiac diseases in Nigeria, while flowers and fruits are chewed to clean the teeth. In Kenya the juice of boiled roots is drunk to get rid of hookworms, while crushed leaves are taken to treat stomach troubles.
Take note, in spite of all the amazing nutritional and medicinal values of gboma leaves, the plant contains alkaloids, which gives the leaves and fruit that bitter taste. For that reason, it is recommended that gboma is consumed sparingly, as consuming the plant in large frequencies may potentially be poisonous to the body.
Now you know. Go on and enjoy your favourite gboma and banku responsibly.
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