Telfairia occidentalis: A blood booster, an antioxidant and an antihyperglycaemic agent
Philippa C Ojimelukwe
Telfairia occidentalis (Hook F) (Fluted pumpkin) is an underutilized twining herb with dark-green leaves grown for its edible leaves and seeds. It is found in tropical regions especially in West and Central Africa. The seeds and leaves are used as food and in ethnomedicine but their compositional and medicinal contributions to human health are not yet well researched and well documented. The purpose of this review paper is to present available information on the nutritional quality and health benefits of Telfairia occidentalis leaves and its seeds highlighting the gaps in knowledge that require further research input. Knowledge about the nutrient composition of the leaves and seeds are available in literature. Significant research attention has been given to the haemoglobin boosting, antihyperglycaemic, and antioxidant properties of T. occidentalis leaves. The constituent phytochemicals require more research attention to elucidate the structural components and relate them to nutrition and their biological activities. The emerging health benefits and grey areas such as anti-sickling, anti-inflammatory, analgesics properties and spermatogenesis boosting properties/testicular damage require more research input. The paper also documents other potential uses of T.occidentalis to optimize its benefits as a source of nutrient and as a medicinal food.