Melon seed, commonly known as Egusi, is a widely enjoyed food in Nigeria and other West and Central African countries. It is extracted from a fruit belonging to the Cucurbitaceae family, which also includes watermelon, and is typically prepared by grinding the seeds to make soups.
Although preparation methods may vary across different regions, the main ingredient for these soups is the white seed within the dried, inedible fruit. The seeds are obtained by removing them from the fruit and letting them dry, then breaking through the tough, brown shell to get to the edible portion.
Nutritional Contents of Egusi (Melon Seeds)
Egusi seeds are packed with protein and beneficial omega-6 fatty acids, mainly consisting of unsaturated fats. The oil extracted from the seeds is also abundant in antioxidants like vitamin E and beta-carotene.
In addition, as with all plant-based foods, egusi contains no cholesterol. A 100-gram serving of West African egusi includes the following nutrients:
- 593 calories
- Carbohydrates: 11.3g
- Fat: 47.9g
- Protein: 27.5g
- Fibre: 3.2g
- Calcium: 16% of the reference nutrient intake (RNI)
- Iron: 42% of the RNI
- Zinc: 75% of the RNI
- Phosphorus: 157% of the RNI
- Potassium: 18.5% of the RNI
Health Benefits of Egusi (Melon Seeds)
Here are 7 health benefits of Egusi seeds:
1. Rich in Antioxidants
Egusi seeds are rich in antioxidants, including vitamin E and ß-carotene. These antioxidants play a crucial role in protecting the body against oxidative damage, which is caused by free radicals. By reducing oxidative damage, antioxidants help to keep you healthy and delay the aging process.
2. Rich in of Minerals
Egusi seeds are a rich source of potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, and zinc. These minerals are essential for maintaining good health and are especially important for people with high blood pressure. Potassium, for example, helps regulate blood pressure, while magnesium helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function.
3. May Boosts Immunity
Egusi seeds are a good source of essential nutrients, including vitamins and minerals, that help to boost the body’s immunity. Regular consumption of Egusi seeds can help keep you healthy and reduce your risk of getting sick.
Just like all plant foods, Egusi seeds are naturally cholesterol-free. This makes them a great alternative for people who are looking to reduce their cholesterol levels and maintain a healthy heart.
5. Aids Weight Management
Egusi seeds are low in calories and high in fiber, making them a great option for people who are looking to maintain a healthy weight. The fiber content of Egusi seeds can help keep you feeling full for longer, reducing the need to snack on high-calorie foods.
6. Rich in Protein
Egusi seeds are a great source of protein, making them a perfect addition to a vegetarian or vegan diet. Just 100g of Egusi seeds contains up to 18g of protein. This makes it an excellent alternative for people who are looking for protein sources that are not of animal origin.
7. Rich in Omega-6 Fatty Acids
Omega-6 fatty acids are essential for the human body and play a critical role in maintaining good heart health. Egusi seeds are a great source of these essential fatty acids and can help you maintain optimal health.
Are Egusi Seeds Healthy?
Yes, egusi seeds are considered nutritious as they are packed with essential nutrients such as protein, omega-6 fatty acids, potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, and zinc. Additionally, these seeds are a source of natural antioxidants like vitamin E and beta-carotene and have no cholesterol. Nevertheless, consuming excessive amounts of egusi can contribute a substantial amount of calories and fat to one’s diet, so it is essential to consume them in moderation.
Can Egusi Seeds Be Eaten Raw?
Egusi seeds are not typically consumed in their raw form. To prepare the seeds for eating, the hard outer shell is removed, and the seeds are dried. The resulting product can then be roasted or ground into a paste, which is commonly used as an ingredient in dishes such as soups or stews.
Is Melon Seed Good for Kidney?
The impact of melon seeds on kidney health is uncertain. Maintaining a balanced and diverse diet filled with whole foods is believed to be beneficial for the kidneys, but it’s crucial to consult with a medical professional before making any significant dietary changes. Further research is needed to determine the specific effects of melon seeds on the kidneys.