Unlike other Nigerian soups that are only dominant in some regions, Egusi soup (also melon soup) is known all over the country. It perhaps goes with different names in different areas. The primary ingredient of this soup is melon seeds and usually spiced with other ingredients. However, our focus in this piece is not to look at the preparation of this soup but health concerns. We want to find out if Egusi soup is healthy or not.
So, is Egusi soup healthy?
Egusi’s primary ingredient is melon seeds, and they have been found to contain phytosterols that help in lowering “bad” LDL (Low-density lipoprotein). Also, the seeds are rich in essential nutrients like protein, dietary fiber, carbohydrates, and essential amino acids. That makes the soup healthy.
But there’s still more to learn about the health effects of Egusi soup. So, going forward, we’re going to dig into the various ingredients of this soup to find their nutritional content and impact on the human body.
What is Egusi?
Egusi is the local name for melon seeds. The name at the same time could mean the soup recipe gotten from the seeds.
Please note that Egusi is not the same as pumpkin seed, though some often confuse both.
When Egusi is prepared with ingredients like vegetables, meat, onion, pepper, and red palm oil, the soup is hearty and delicious.
Where is Egusi Gotten From?
Melon seeds are extracted from melon and dried under the sun or air. After well dried, the yellowish-white shell is removed, and the white flesh is ground into powder or paste.
If you are more traditional, you can reduce the seeds into a paste using a grinding stone. This is often the practice when the seeds are ready for use.
If you have a modern kitchen, you can ground the seeds into its powdery form, using a dry mill blender, and use some and store the rest for later use.
Getting the seed is quite easy. You can get it from open markets or food stores in Nigeria.
If you’re living abroad, you can pick up ground Egusi from International or ethnic grocery stores.
What Food Goes Well with Egusi?
Egusi soup goes best with finger foods, otherwise known as swallows. However, some swallow foods do better than others do when it comes to flavor.
Pounded yam is perhaps the most popular finger food you’ll ever see on the table with this delicious soup. You can also sauce Fufu, Amala, Eba, and other swallows with this soup. You can also enjoy Egusi soup with Semo, and some even eat Egusi soup with Gaari.
Apart from finger foods, you can equally use Egusi on white rice and beans porridge.
Now let’s consider the benefits of Egusi soup.
Nutritional and Health Benefits of Egusi
According to research, melon seeds contain nutrients such as protein, dietary fiber, carbohydrates, and essential vitamins. This means taking melon seed soup will provide nourishment and health benefits.
Let’s take a closer look at some of these nutrients to see how they impact the body:
The research points out that melon seeds pack tryptophan, arginine, and methionine in which all are essential amino acids required for making protein.
Proteins are macronutrients needed for building and repairing tissues. This macronutrient also plays a crucial role in making hormones, enzymes, and other chemicals in the body. As you probably know, protein is essential in the human body–and the good thing is Egusin offers you a good amount of protein.
Apart from the protein content in melon seeds, Egusi soup is incomplete without the addition of assorted meats and/or stockfish that are all excellent sources of protein.
By using meats and fish in your preparation, the protein content of your Egusi is enhanced.
You may consider including melon soup in your family menu, or meal timetable as the soup will contribute to the protein requirements of members of your family.
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Dietary fiber is a form of carbohydrates that helps reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and also offers other health benefits.
For instance, a 2007 research reported adequate intake of diets could help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Other benefits that have been linked to dietary fiber are better gut health, digestive health, and weight management.
In terms of weight loss, the fiber content in Egusi makes it a filling meal. When you don’t have to eat junk foods or take extra calories to feel satisfied, it will be much easier to adhere to your dietary caloric restriction.
Just like protein, carbohydrate is a nutrient required by the body in large amounts. To fuel important organs and essential activities, the body uses the nutrient to make energy. Regardless of the different types of carbohydrates, their primary function is energy provision.
Many have labeled carbohydrates to be bad when it comes to nutrition. But the truth is they are an essential part of healthy diets.
Per 100g serving of Egusi, you’ll get 7.6g of carbohydrates, which makes it a healthy soup. When you consume Egusi in moderation, the soup provides health benefits.
ALSO READ: Is Banga Soup Healthy?
Is Egusi high in cholesterol?
Whether Egusi contains cholesterol or not is one concern often raised about the soup.
First, note that cholesterol isn’t all that bad. There are two types of cholesterol, LDL (low-density lipoprotein) and HDL (high-density lipoprotein).
HDL has positive health impacts. On the other hand, too much LDL increases your risk of stroke and heart disease, making it harmful to your health.
However, melon seeds do not contain cholesterol. Instead, the seeds contain phytosterols, which are plant forms of cholesterol that have been found effective in lowering the “bad” LDL cholesterol levels.
But this is only true for unprocessed Egusi seeds. When the seeds become soup, the type of meat, fish, and other ingredients used in the recipe could cause high cholesterol.
Whether your high cholesterol level is hereditary, as a result of your eating habits, or for any other reason, you may have to consult with your health care practitioner for proper guidance on foods to avoid.
Egusi, otherwise known as melon seeds, contains essential nutrients that provide health and nutritional benefits. Egusi in its natural state is safe, but the choice of ingredients used in making the soup can make it less desirable for those with certain health conditions.
When Egusi is prepared the right way, it can be paired with “swallow” and other popular foods.