Veggies are not everyone’s cup of tea, children and adults equally. It probably explains why some are picky when it comes to the vegetables they choose to eat, completely ignoring others that offer many health benefits.
One of these overlooked vegetables is lauki, also known as ‘bottle gourd’, ‘white-flowered gourd’ or ‘long melon’, grown for its fruit. It can be either harvested young to be consumed as a vegetable, or harvested mature to be dried and used as a utensil. When it is fresh, the fruit has a light green smooth skin and white flesh.
According to vendors who sell them in Nyabugogo market, lauki has a small number of consumers. In Rwanda, it’s grown mostly in some small progressive communities around Kigali.
A piece of lauki goes for Rwf 400 to 600 depending on where you buy it. Apart from Nyabugogo and Kimironko markets, one can also purchase lauki from online grocery delivery stores.
Studies have shown that this wonder veggie has sedative and anti-bilious properties, which helps in relaxing the body. In fact, it is loaded with ample nutrients.
Regarded as one of the healthiest veggies, lauki is a powerhouse of nutrients and health benefits.
Erick Musengimana, a nutritionist at Rwanda Diabetes Association in Kigali, says it has been proved that just like watermelon, lauki is rich in water, vitamins and minerals and is an effective home remedy for many health ailments.
He says there are many reasons based on research why people should include this unique vegetable in their diet, including filling the body with essential nutrients and fibres.
For instance, Musengimana says, it has been ascertained that lauki is low in saturated fats and cholesterol, and rich in nutrients such as riboflavin, zinc, iron, magnesium, Vitamin C among other vitamins.
Besides, the vegetable contains anti-oxidation properties along with Vitamin B and C.
He says that in cases where the body is dehydrated, lauki can be a good remedy for hydration because of its high content of water.
According to different studies, the loss of sodium causes migraines, uneasiness and life-threatening heat strokes. Lauki with 96 per cent water content is also high in sodium and potassium and replenishes the body, helping with dehydration.
Another extended therapeutic advantage of this vegetable is that its essential blend of fibre and water can cool the body’s temperature. The internal mechanism of your body will remain calm and soothed after consuming this vegetable.
In case of restlessness, or poor sleep cycle, when mixed with sesame oil, lauki has properties that can help with sleep-related disorders.
“This is vital because for healthier life, one needs to eat, sleep and hydrate, therefore, including this vegetable regularly in your diet is essential,” says Musengimana.
Rich in dietary fibres, lauki is also easy to digest and is helpful in curing constipation and even piles.
According to a research, 100 grams of bottle gourd contains 15 calories and is also low in saturated fats and cholesterol. It is packed with dietary fibres and keeps you full for long, thus helping with weight loss.
Also, nothing can beat the benefits of freshly squeezed bottle gourd juice. According to health experts, a blend of lauki and lemon juice is considered one of the best home remedies for urinary tract infections.
It is advisable to consume cooked bottle gourd because raw vegetables could harm the stomach and digestive system, causing ulcers and rarely multi-organ damage. It can be cooked with other dishes of your choice.