African horned cucumber

African horned cucumber is one of the under estimated natural, indigenous plants for healthy living 

Considering the status quo of the pandemic and so many deaths across the world, naturally everyone is becoming more concerned about their health and with more effort and emphasis being put on exercises, eating particular immune boosting foods and taking supplements. Sadly, a greater part of the population in Zimbabwe is food insecure as climate change continues to interfere with precipitation and temperature, rain fed agriculture has taken a huge blow as yields decrease.  With the lock down regulations, people are expected to stay at home, which is further plunging families into poverty and food insecurity as they can longer earn a living or go to their respective places of work.  Without money for food, access to affordable healthy food is limited. In short eating healthy is more expensive!

Community and backyard gardens have become an important source of food for many as it provides fresh vegetables and fruits which health experts recommend we should take more of. With proper practises, these can provide solutions to malnutrition and food insecurity in poor communities. There are a lot of underestimated plants, most of them indigenous which communities can benefit from due to their low cost and high nutrient value.  This week we would like to discuss such plants as part of efforts to improve the general nutrition knowledge about under estimated plants common in most backyard and community gardens.

 such plant is the African horned cucumber. It grows naturally in Southern and Central Africa. It is packed with a variety of nutrients essential for optimal human health. These include an array of vitamins (A,B6) , minerals and proteins higher than most fruits. It also contains potent antioxidants that help regulate blood oxygen and sugar levels. Not only does it have a higher water content, it also has electrolytes to keep you hydrated. Based on its nutritional content, this under estimated indigenous plant can significantly improve one health at a very low budget as it sometimes grows naturally.  It is high time we pay attention to natural or traditional food as means of healthy living especially for low income households.