Gongura leaves are a nutrition powerhouse
Gongura is a green leafy plant, which is grown for its culinary and medicinal uses. It is a perennial plant and primarily grown in South and Eastern parts of India. It is also known as Ambadi or Sorrel in some languages and its scientific name is Hibiscus Sabdariffa L. It is an annual herbaceous plant and almost all parts of the plant are used. While the leaves and flowers are used in various foods and beverages; the seeds, pods, and stem find use in the pharma and industrial applications. A variation of this plant, called Roselle is also used for decoration purpose for their beautiful red flowers.
There are two types of Gongura, green-stemmed leaf and red stemmed. The red stemmed one is sourer than the green stem. Commonly the leaves are the most necessary part of the plant. The leaves become sourer with the increase in the hotness of the place, where they are grown.
Nutritional Benefits of Gongura Leaves
The leaves contain multiple essential nutrients that our body needs on daily basis. It is a low calorie food that is highly nutritious and has several medicinal benefits too.
- Vitamins: It is an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin B1 (thiamin), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B9 (folic acid) and vitamin C.
- Minerals: The minerals present in it are Iron, Calcium, Potassium, Magnesium, and Sodium.
- Organic Nutrients: Flavonoids, polyphenolic acids, and anthocyanins, the top organic nutrients are present in Gongura leaves.
- Other Nutrients: There is a good amount of fiber content and nearly 11 types of amino acids, making it good source of proteins as well.
Health benefits of Gongura Leaves
With such a rich nutritional profile, the leaves have multiple positive effects on our health. Here are some of them:
1. Can help treat Urinary Tract Infection – UTI
The antibacterial properties of Gongura help in curing of different kinds of urinary tract infections and sexually transmitted diseases.
2. Prevents Hypertension
Gongura leaves help to lower blood pressure with their high Potassium and Magnesium content. Infact, it has remarkable ability to lower the bad Cholesterol or low density lipoproteins (LDL) levels and increase the good cholesterol or high-density lipoproteins (HDL) levels in the body. All these properties make it an amazing food for people suffering from hypertension.
3. Hair Health and Volume
The leaves can work wonders to treat dull, dry, and damaged hair. Regular consumption decreases hair loss and slows down the process of balding.
4. Regulates Breast Milk Flow
Lactating mothers can eat Gongura to reduce the milk supply, when they want to stop breastfeeding and wean their young one. Therefore, new mothers should not consume this when their baby has a requirement of breast milk otherwise it will hamper the nutritional needs of the baby.
5. Treats Cancer
According to researches, the rich nutrients present in Gongura leaves treat cancer by destroying the malignant cells and prevent further growth. The antioxidants and flavonoids prevent cancer, by naturally breaking down and reducing the growth of a tumor. Besides these, the oxalic acid present in the leaves destroys the malignant cells and prevents their further growth. The green leaves contain chlorophyll that increases the oxygen in the body. Therefore, the activities of the malignant cells cease. It is good for the patients of breast cancer.
6. Prevents Inflammation
Gongura leaf is anti-inflammatory in nature. It heals ulcers, wounds, boils etc and also treats swelling, scorbutic diseases, ringworm, itchy skin etc. In case of a scorpion bite, it can be used as a remedy.
7. Treats Anemia
Women suffering from anaemia because of lack of nutrition, heavy bleeding during periods or post pregnancy can take Gongura. It is a rich source of iron, sodium, zinc, and phosphorus. Besides these, the chlorophyll presents in its leaves increase the haemoglobin level in the body.
8. Increases Digestion
It improves digestion and supports digestive health with its high fibre content. Digestive disorders such as constipation, bloating, diarrhoea, and several gastrointestinal disorders can be cured with regular consumption of the leaves.
9. Increases Immunity
Regular consumption of Gongura leaves increases immunity by removing toxins and harmful elements from the body. Gongura contains vitamin C, also known as the ascorbic acid enhances the immunization power, the WBC count and antibodies.
10. Makes the Bones stronger
Gongura leaves contain calcium. So, regular intake can make your bones stronger. So, women need to take Gongura regularly, especially after 30 years.
11. Helps to sleep better
Hypertension can cause sleepless nights. If you want to get the sound sleep you can take a few leaves of Gongura every day with your salad or you can take the tea (recipe below).
12. Great for Eyes
It contains high levels of vitamin A that helps in improving eyesight and preventing night blindness.
13. Helps Manage Diabetes
The micronutrients present in the leaves also help manage the blood glucose level, making them highly desirable and effective for Pre-Diabetics and patients with Type 2 Diabetes.
Things to be aware of – Caution while Consumption of Gongura
Though Gongura has many medicinal and useful properties, we should consume it in moderation. Like everything else, too much of good things, in this case, Gongura-leaves can be bad for you. Other points to take note of:
- Due to high levels of oxalic acid, it may decrease the ability of our body to absorb calcium. Thus, it can result in the formation of kidney stones.
- Always take tender leaves as fully grown leaves contain the higher amount of oxalic acid.
- People with Asthma or skin related diseases should not cosume Gongura-leaves.
- Avoid cooking in aluminium or iron cookware as the oxalic acid present in Gongura leaves has an acidic reaction with the metal, making the food toxic and unsuitable for use.
- Not to be consumed by lactating mothers as it can impact milk supply.
Recipes with Gongura
1. Chutney/Pickle/Pachadi (as termed in Andhra Pradesh, India)
Picture Source: Wikimedia
- Chopped gongura leaves- 2 cups
- Chilli powder- 1/4 tsp
- Coriander powder- 1/2 tsp
- Sugar- 2 Tsp
- Oil- 1 tbsp
- Mustard seeds-1 tsp
- Asafoetida- a pinch
- Salt- as per taste
Heat oil in a pan, add mustard seeds and let them splutter. Then add the coriander powder, chilli powder, asafoetida and chopped leaves. Stir for 2 minutes, add the salt and sugar and cook well. Now the chutney is ready to serve with rice, chapati, or carbohydrates of your choice.
An alternate recipe for Gongura pickle can be found here at Yummy India Kitchen.
- Few Gongura leaves
- Small cinnamon stick
- 2 Cloves
- 1 Cup Water
- Sugar- 1tsp
Boil 1 cup of water, then add some dried leaves and the crushed spices. After 3 minutes strain the tea into a cup and add sugar as per your taste.
3. With Daal or Lentils – Gongura Pappu
Picture Credit: Padhu’s Kitchen
- Lentils – Toor Daal or Moong Daal – 1 Cup
- Chopped and washed fresh Gongura Leaves
- Salt – per taste
- Turmeric – 1 TSP
- Mustard Seeds – 1/2 TSP
- Ghee – 1 TSP
- Coriander Powder – 1/2 TSP
- Roasted Cumin Powder – 1TSP
- Asafoetida – pinch
- Garlic – 3 to 4 Cloves
- Onion – 1 Mid-sized
- Dry Red Chillis – 3 to 4 or per taste
Boil or pressure cook the leaves along with lentils. Add salt and turmeric. The leaves will nearly dissolve in the daal/lentil. Now add the ghee in a pan. Once it is a little hot, add mustard seeds, Asafoetida, and Red Chillis. Let the seeds temper and then add onion and garlic till they turn golden brown. Add coriander powder and cumin powder to the roasted mix and close the heat. Add boiled daal to this mix. Serve with rice, roti, or bread.
Here is the recipe by Padhu’s Kitchen.
- Dried Gongura Leaves – 1/2 Cup
- Dried Mint Leaves – 1/4 Cup
- Black Pepper – 1 TSP
- Salt – 1 TSP (or per taste)
- Sugar in powdered form – 1 TSP
- Black Salt – 1/2 TSP
- Chilli Powder – 1 TSP
- Asafoetida – 1/4 TSP
- Roasted Chana (Black Gram) Daal – 4-5 TSP
- Desiccated Coconut – 1/4 Cup
Roast and grind the Chana Daal to powdered form. Mix with Desiccated Coconut and all the dried spieces as listed above. Blend together in a mixer a couple of times to get uniformly mixed powder. Store in an airtight container in a cool and dry place. Sprinkle on foods as required to add a sour and spicy mint flavour.