Ten Health Benefits of Pumpkin Leaves(Ugu)


Back where I come from, we call these green “ugwu” or “ugu”, and most Nigerians have no idea what the English name is (like most local foods) it is known  as pumpkin leaves. My grandmother used to say this was a great vegetable to blend and mix with juices and stuff, but way back then, as a child, I could never understand why someone would want to blend a vegetable. And it didn’t have the best texture in the world. Now, look at me, blending all sorts of greens!

This vegetable is used a lot in Nigeria to cook soups (what you may refer to as a sauce), to boil and eat plain, or to blend into a shake. People say it is healthy, but I don’t think people truly know what those health benefits are.

Pumpkin leaves contain a healthy amount of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium, and Iron, while still staying very low on the calorie front.

We all know about the vision benefits vitamin A provides, as well as the skin benefits. Vitamin C helps to heal wounds and form scar tissue, and maintain healthy bones, skin, and teeth. However since the body cannot produce this vitamin on its own or even store it, you should be consistently getting enough vitamin C in your diet.

As for calcium, your mother probably already told you growing up that you need a healthy dose of calcium for your bones and teeth as a child. However, if you are a female, it is important to consume enough calcium to help prevent osteoporosis and keep your bones strong. There have also been studies showing that calcium may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular failure.

Iron helps our muscles store and use oxygen, and helps carry oxygen from our lungs to other parts of our bodies as part of hemoglobin. If you’ve ever heard the term “anemia”, this can be caused by iron deficiency. Women and children in particular need a healthy dose of iron consistently, and these leaves help provide that nutrient naturally.

Some of the health benefits of pumpkin leave include:

1. Prevention of convulsion: The young leaves sliced and mixed with coconut water and salt are stored in a bottle and used for the treatment of convulsion in ethno medicine.
2 lowers cholesterol:leaves has hypolipdemic effect and may be a useful therapy in hypercholestolemia.
3 Boost fertility: A particular study showed that pumpkin has the potential to regenerate testicular damage and also increase spermatogenesis.
4. It has a liver protecting effects.
5.  It has antibacterial effects
6 .The leaves are rich in iron and play a key role in the cure of anaemia, (my mother used to mix the leaf extract with milk)
7. They are also noted for lactating properties and are in high demand for nursing mothers.
8.It has an hypoglycaemic (sugar reducing) effect. It is good for diabetics
9. Increases Blood Volume and Boost Immune System
10. The high protein content in leaves of plants such as pumpkin could have supplementary effect for the daily protein requirement of the body.



  1. Actual pumpkin leaves? I am growing pumpkins. A variety known as Winter Luxury Pie Pumpkin. Not sure if you mean only a specific kind of pumpkin or any pumpkin leaf will do!

  2. The pumpkin Tosinawoyinka is writing about is Telfaira occidentalis which is Ugwu. There are other types of pumpkins e.g. Pumpkin disambiguation, which is the ones the western world decorate in halloween periods.

  3. Please is there any nutrient we can derived from the root of these particular species of pumpkin ‘telfaira occidentalis[ugwu]?

  4. all the benefits u listed are encouraging. Is there a published lab research done on this Ugu leave to back up these claims that it can do all these? if there is, can you share the link to the lab research

    1. we are interested to receive more information of pumpkin leave and seeds.we are doing reserach on the seeds and we need collaboration and partners from all over the world

  5. Pumpkin leave,is wonderful leave originated from south east of Nigeria (Biafra).The correct spelling is Ugu, (not Ugwu).During the genocide lead by the British and Nigerians,full blockage by air,sea and land to wipe out the Biafrans from this plannet,through starvation and military campaign, that consume more than,3.5 million Ibos,(1967-1970)called Nigerian/Biafran war,95% of the Biafrans that survived,was the help of this wonderful leave (UGU).It is very rich in vitamins,calcium,iron,proteins etc.GOD IS GREAT.

  6. As in many green leaves, I wonder about the content of oxalic acid. This stuff makes raw kale a poor choice (implicated in kidney stones), so to get rid of it, you boil the kale and don’t drink the water. How much is in pumpkin leaves?

  7. i love the pumpkin leaves,and Health Benefit Of Nigeria Pumpkin Leaf is very good. .and i am happy today to know more about the health benefit of it thanks for showing us about it.

  8. Isnt it dangerous to drink the liquidized fresh ugu water? Doesnt it affect any of the organs negatively? Plse confirm. Am diabetic.

  9. Wao!!! I m absolutely impressed about your writeup here. Please Mrs Tosin Awoyinka, there is something I want to verify from you & I will need us get interactive on it, Are you on whtsapp or BBM, here is my contact. 0802-6484-861, BBM: 7C5C2867 you can kindly share me yours inside my email address antstrides@yahoo.com. I look forward to hear from you soon,
    thanks alot

  10. I agree with some of the contents above. Ugu is nutritionally beneficial on most accounts. However, the raw consumption (juicing, smoothies etc) is questionable due to the oxalate content and potential risks therein of developing conditions such as Kidney stones. Anecdotal suggestions include parboiling/steaming for a minimum of 5 minutes prior to consumption to get rid of the oxalate content. I do not have further research or evidence based data to provide any credible support to these claims. It would be helpful if the Author is able to shed more light. Very interesting topic though. Well done and keep up the good work.

  11. As good as Telfairia occidentallis is, how come the acive ingredients have not been extracted and formulated into any of these numerous indications mentioned ….like Anemia, Diabetics etc. These would actually make the worth to be high, resulting into job creation for nigerian youths as our soil and climatic conditions favours its growth

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