Ugu (also Ugwu, Fluted pumpkin leaves) (Telfaria occidentalis) leaves are popular dark green leafy vegetables used in preparing many different types of Nigerian soups. Soups such as egusi and okro soup contain primarily Ugu leaves along with water leaf, and amaranth greens. Ugu leaves are also used in preparing yam pottage. The highly nutritious leaves can also be sautéed, used fresh in salads and in smoothies. The leaf extract mixed with milk is a popular beverage drunk for its digestive benefits. The high iron content is beneficial for managing anemia. The leaves have a great flavor and are rich in dietary fiber.
The nutrients in Ugu have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-diabetic properties from the phytonutrients contained in the leaves, such as flavonoids, tannins, alkaloids and resins. Additional nutritional benefits of Ugu include high levels of vitamin content such as vitamins A, B2, C, D, E, K and the minerals iron, calcium, phosphorus, potassium and manganese. In addition to soups and salads, Ugu leaves can also be used in quiche, mixed with scrambled eggs and any other dishes that call for spinach, kale or Swiss chard. If adding or increasing vegetables in your diet, consult with your health care providers to ensure no interactions with medication. Enjoy this nutritious superfood.