If you want to choose a new and exciting green for your diet, you need only look out into your backyard garden. The humble pumpkin leaf can be delicious and nutritious!
You should eat pumpkin leaves because they are full of helpful nutrients, can help with certain medical issues, and help cut down on food waste. You can turn these leaves into fantastic side dishes with a little time and care.
Read on for all kinds of new information about this unconventional green.
Eating Pumpkin Leaves Is Good for You
You might not have heard about people eating pumpkin leaves or using them for cooking, but the truth is these leaves are good for you! They’re packed with nutrients beneficial for your body.
What’s great about pumpkin leaves is that you can eat them raw (if you like!). But cooking the leaves is probably better as it can bring out their true flavor.
Now, let’s explore some of the benefits of eating pumpkin leaves.
Pumpkin Leaves Are Rich in Nutrients and Minerals
Pumpkin leaves, like pumpkins themselves, are full of nutrients you can take advantage of by eating them. Blanching pumpkin leaves will also change the way certain nutrients manifest within the leaves, making them even better to eat.
They are rich in essential vitamins, fiber, protein, calcium, iron, and other essential nutrients. All of these go into keeping yourself healthy and strong.
Pumpkin leaves are dense nutrient providers, meaning they can pack a significant punch in a small package. They are safe to eat as long as you prepare them properly.
Eating Pumpkin Leaves May Be Good for Your Skin
Many nutrients and minerals in pumpkin leaves are perfect for helping your skin, hair, teeth, and bones. Use these nutrients to supplement your diet regularly.
Pumpkin leaves are also traditionally used in various types of folk medicine for everything from fertility issues to convulsions. These are traditions tied to Indigenous North American and African practices and have been effective over the years.
You’ll Cut Down on Food Waste by Using the Leaves
Harvesting a pumpkin from your backyard garden is a great feeling, but then you’re left with the massive plant that has sprawled all over the ground. All that work went into the gourds you harvested, but the rest of the plant is still there.
The best way to stop this is to harvest the leaves early and prepare them in various recipes. Baby leaves are easier to prepare since they are more tender, but the older leaves are also edible.
If you see a leaf that has turned yellow or started to show signs of mildewing, do not harvest it. These leaves are going bad and are not suitable for consumption. Stick to the smaller, greener, and more tender leaves.
Once you’ve collected enough leaves for your meal, you’ll need to prepare them for cooking.
Wash the leaves thoroughly; improperly cleaned pumpkin leaves can affect the flavor. Carefully trim off the stiff, rubbery stems of the pumpkin leaves. Strips and squares are the best ways to cut the other leaf sections for cooking.
You Can Serve Pumpkin Leaves as a Side Dish
Similar in taste to a turnip green, these leaves can be used in all kinds of side dishes, especially in the fall or for international meals.
Pumpkin leaves are used frequently in Sub-Saharan African and Asian cuisine. Blanching them unlocks the highest nutritional potential and makes these leaves safe to consume regularly.
Ugu is one of the names for a Nigerian pumpkin species, and you can find ugu leaves in many Nigerian dishes. Ugu is delicious in soup and stir-fried alongside plantains and fufu.
Zimbabwe is another African country that has many pumpkin leaf recipes. One traditional dish called muborra is a pumpkin leaf stew with tomatoes and onion.
If you want a dish with an Asian influence, look no further than a typical stir fry.
However, you’ll need to properly harvest and prepare them for consumption if you want to make a delicious meal. While some specialty stores may carry ugu leaves (also known as fluted pumpkin leaves), fresh is always better.
The younger leaves may still have hairs on them, but those are safe to eat as long as they are young enough. It’s not advisable to eat the older leaves.
Pumpkin Leaves Can Help With Diabetes Management
A few studies have been done where scientists analyzed the impact of eating pumpkin leaves on individuals who were managing diabetes and their blood sugar.
They found that pumpkin leaves can help control blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. While pumpkin leaves won’t cure diabetes, they can certainly help with one of the primary symptoms.
Pumpkin Leaves Are High in Fiber
Like many other greens, pumpkin leaves are high in fiber. These can help digestion and give you a needed boost. Fiber is a family of non-digestible food components that can improve bowel health.
It’s essential to keep sources of fiber in your diet because fiber also helps keep your blood sugar in check. It gives you even more reason to choose pumpkin leaves over other types of greens out there.
Pumpkin Leaves Have a High Level of Protein
Like pumpkins, pumpkin leaves have a lot of protein. While they’re no replacement for a protein-dense food item, they do pack a punch.
You can use pumpkin leaves to supplement your diet and give you more protein. Protein is crucial because it encourages cellular regeneration and can help you recover from strenuous workouts or injuries faster.
If you avoid meat, pumpkin leaves can be another form of protein you can depend on to supplement your diet. It’s healthy, hearty, and cruelty-free. You can enjoy it without ethical concerns.
When you think of leaves to eat, you’ve probably never considered pumpkin leaves. However, there are so many great reasons to eat them. They can be perfect for you and have all kinds of health benefits, such as essential nutrients, and can even help with specific medical issues. You only need to prepare the leaves correctly.
- Healthline: ‘Is Pumpkin Good for People With Diabetes?’
- Finelib.com: ‘About Health and Nutritional Benefits of Fluted Pumpkin Leaves (Ugu)’
- Harvard School of Public Health: ‘Fiber’
- Frontiers in Nutrition: ‘Changes in Phenolic Metabolites and Biological Activities of Pumpkin Leaves (Cucurbita moschata Duchesne ex Poir.) During Blanching’
- Demand Africa: ‘How to Prepare and Cook Pumpkin Leaves’
- Femina: ‘Health benefits of pumpkin leaves’
- Immaculate Bites: ‘Pumpkin Leaves (Ugu) Soup’
- ZimboKitchen: ‘Delicious traditional Muboora (Pumpkin leaves)’
- The African Chef: Pumpkin Leaves