Cowpeas are legume crops that are versatile and readily available in Africa, Asia, and numerous arid regions. They have been cultivated for more than 4000 years in various regions. Cowpea is capable of growing in harsh climates and provides people of such climate numerous nutrients. Cowpeas belong to the Vigna genus (Vigna Unguiculata).
While the beans of the cowpea plant is the primary focus of cultivating this plant, the leaves and roots of cowpea also have nutritional and medicinal values.
Cowpea Nutritional Fact
|Amount Per Serving (100g Per Serving)|
% Daily Value
Total Fat 0.5g
Saturated Fat 0.1g
Trans Fat 0.0g
Total Carbohydrates 21g
Dietary Fiber 7g
Vitamin A 0%
Vitamin C 0%
Below are various health benefits of cowpea;
1. Improves Mental Health
Cowpeas are high in tryptophan. Tryptophan helps to treat conditions such as insomnia and anxiety. It helps neurotransmitters to control mood. Cowpea also has histidine that plays a big role in promoting mental well being. Cowpeas also contain an amino acid called phenylalanine which helps in preventing depression. Phenylalanine helps to improve mood due to the production of dopamine and norepinephrine. This amino acid also helps in preventing migraines.
2. Nervous System
Cowpea contains folates. Folate plays a big role in the nervous system. Folate deficiency can lead to an increase in homocysteine levels. This can, in turn, lead to neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease.
Thiamin in cowpeas helps in proper functioning of the brain. It helps in boosting memory and increases concentration. Additionally, thiamine strengthens nerves in the body.
3. Prevents Birth Defects In Pregnant Women
Folate deficiency in pregnant women could lead to neural tube defects. The most common neural tube defect is Spina Bifida. Low levels of folate during pregnancy can result in an underweight infant. Folate also helps the body to generate new cells. This is very crucial to pregnant women. One cup of cowpeas provides more than 50% of the daily recommended amount of folates.
4. Eye Health
Cowpea is rich in Vitamin A. Vitamin A plays a big role in good vision. It helps people who have night blindness. One cup of cowpeas has 2S% of the recommended daily amount.
5. Improves Bowel Movement
Cowpea has a lot of dietary fiber. The dietary fiber regulates bowel movements. Fiber absorbs water and eliminates waste products from the body. Fiber also helps to treat constipation and protects you from intestinal disorders. Eating cowpeas on a regular basis also reduces the risk of developing hemorrhoids.
6. Boosts Immunity
Threonine, found in cowpeas, helps to boost our immunity. Threonine is an essential amino acid. This means that the body is not able to produce it. We, therefore, have to consume it in our diets. Threonine promotes the production of antibodies. Additionally, it helps in the growth and functioning of the thymus gland. Thymus gland produces T cells. These are white blood cells that help to fight against foreign invaders in the body. Threonine speeds up the healing of wounds and helps us to recover quickly from an illness.
7. Increases Level Of Red Blood Cells
Cowpeas are rich in iron. Iron helps to prevent anemia. Anemia is a condition that results from having low red blood cells in the body. Anemia reduces body’s immunity and can also lead to malfunctioning of the brain (Approximately half of patients hospitalized with traumatic brain injuries are anemic). One cup of cowpeas contains 24% of iron that is recommended daily.
8. Regulates Blood Pressure
Cowpeas are very low in sodium. This helps in lowering blood pressure. They also contain potassium. Potassium keeps blood pressure to normal levels. One cup of cowpeas contains approximately 20% of the daily recommended potassium intake. Several studies have been able to link low potassium in the body with high blood pressure.
9. Reduces Risk Of Diabetes
Foods and beverages are usually ranked according to their glycemic index. A high Glycemic Index food, such as processed foods, break down quickly in the body and leads to a rapid increase in blood sugar levels. Cowpeas have a low Glycemic Index, this means that they are absorbed slowly in the body. This reduces the risk of developing diabetes. Cowpeas are also very high in magnesium. Magnesium is essential for the metabolism of carbohydrates in the body. Intake of magnesium-rich foods reduces the risk of developing diabetes.
10. Reduces Risk Of Cardiovascular Diseases
Cowpeas contain thiamine. Studies show that thiamine prevents heart diseases by ensuring ventricles function well. Thiamine, also known as Vitamin B1, aids in the production of acetylcholine. This is a neurotransmitter that carries messages between nerves and muscles. Cowpeas also contain fiber which is essential for the health of the heart. Fiber binds with bile in the body to reduce the level of cholesterol in the body.
11. Prevents Cancer
Cowpeas help in the prevention of colorectal, breast, prostate, and lung cancer. They have flavonoids- an antioxidant that helps to fight cancer cells in the body. Flavonoids prevent the occurrence and growth of cancer cells. Antioxidants lower the risk of cancer by neutralizing free radicals. Free radicals are formed in the body through metabolism in the body and lead to damage of cells. The folate in cowpeas helps in the synthesis of new cells.
12. Muscle Tissue Repair
Cowpea has Isoleucine. This is an amino acid used in protein synthesis. Consuming cowpeas would raise endurance as isoleucine helps regulate blood sugar and energy levels in the body. Athletes, as well as people who engage in heavy physical activities, may find this to be very beneficial. It also helps the tissue muscles to heal after strenuous activities. Additionally, it helps an injury to clot quickly.
13. Improves Body Metabolism
Cowpeas are rich in copper, potassium, and anti-oxidants that help in the body’s metabolic activities. Copper helps in the metabolism of glucose and cholesterol. It also aids in the synthesis and production of enzymes. Enzymes break down nutrient molecules of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. Potassium aids in carbohydrate metabolism.
14. Strengthens Bones
Cowpea has calcium, manganese and phosphorous. These minerals strengthen bones. Manganese regulates hormones and enzymes that are needed in the formation of bones. Calcium increases Bone Mineral Density (BMD). This prevents osteoporosis and bone fractures. Cowpeas also have other minerals that help in strengthening bones. These are boron, copper, Vitamin D, and Magnesium.
15. Lowers Cholesterol Levels
There are two types of cholesterol in the body- good cholesterol (HDL) and bad cholesterol (LDL). Cowpeas help to eliminate bad cholesterol from the body while increasing the good cholesterol. Cowpeas have a compound called phytosterols. This compound maintains normal cholesterol levels in the body. Furthermore, the fiber found in cowpeas binds to LDL and excretes it from the body.
16. Weight Loss
Cowpeas are low in calories and fats. This helps in maintaining a healthy weight. Cowpeas have high protein. Protein boosts metabolism and reduces hunger. A high protein diet has been proven to reduce frequent thoughts of eating by up to 60%. It also suppresses the desire to snack during late-night hours by half. Studies have also shown that eating protein-rich foods will make you consume 441 fewer calories in a day. Cowpea also has fiber that makes you feel full for a long time. Fiber also increases cholecystokinin levels in the body. This is a hormone that suppresses appetite making you eat less.
17. Benefits On The Skin
Vitamin A protects the skin from the harmful effects of the sun. This helps to prevent cell death, sunburn as well as prevent dry and wrinkled skin. The protection of cowpeas from UV radiations helps in the prevention of skin cancers.
A healthy skin starts from the inside. The only way to have a glowing skin is to eliminate the causes in the first place. One of the causes of dermatitis is problems with the immune system. As we have already seen, cowpeas help to strengthen the immune system. A stronger immunity leads to healthier skin.
Cowpeas act as an anti-aging remedy. They contain vitamins that are essential in preventing aging. These vitamins include Vitamin A and C. These vitamins protect the skin from getting damaged by harmful free radicals in the body. Additionally, these vitamins are able to get rid of wrinkles resulting in young and radiant skin. Vitamin C also prevents your skin from drying. The protein in cowpeas helps in repairing of damaged skin.
18. Benefits On Hair
Vitamin A helps the skin glands to make sebum. Sebum is an oily substance that moisturizes the scalp of your hair. This helps to keep your hair healthy. Consuming cowpeas makes your hair to become shiny as it nourishes the hair and protects it from damage.
Our hair is mostly made from protein. These proteins help in nourishing as well as maintaining the growth of hair. The proteins, in cowpeas, would increase your levels of amino acid. This would, in turn, help the hair to grow even faster and prevent hair loss. Free radicals can block the growth of hair. This leads to stagnation in hair growth. Cowpeas eliminate free radicals in the body.
Cowpea also contains iron and iron is essential for hair growth. The body uses Vitamin C to produce Collagen. This is a protein that helps in maintaining the structure of our hair. Vitamin C, a constituent of cowpea, also helps to absorb iron in the body thus increasing the rate at which our hair grows. Cowpeas also contain Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps to produce new hair follicles.
19. Traditional Uses Of Cowpeas
The leaf of cowpeas helps in treating tooth disorders. When you have a toothache, chewing the leaves will relieve the pain quickly. The leaves and seeds can also be used to treat skin infections and swellings. The roots of cowpeas help in treating amenorrhea. Amenorrhea is a condition in which a woman, who is not pregnant, misses her menstrual periods more than once. The roots also help to relieve painful menstruation and chest pains. Cowpea extracts are also used to treat common colds and fever.
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