Jute Leaves: Nutrition, Benefits, and How to Eat Them

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What are Jute Leaves?

If you’ve never heard of jute leaves before, you will find out on this article and it may convince you to try this wildly popular leafy green that’s cultivated in Southeast Asia, West Africa, and the Middle East.

Depending on the region, jute leaves may also be referred to as edewu, ayoyo, and rau day, among many other names.

Jute leaves are not known to many, but they are a part of the jute plant that’s mostly cultivated in Asia, the Middle East, and parts of Africa as it mentioned above.

Jute leaves are used as a food source in these regions; it is in fact, they are said to add a distinct flavor to food and also act as thickeners in soups, stews, and sauces. Jute leaves are also known as saluyot, ewedu, or lalo, depending on the region they are being cultivated or cooked. The leaves have slightly toothed edges.

When harvested young, jute leaves are generally flavorful and tender; on the other hand, older leaves tend to be fibrous and woody. It is scientifically known as Corchorus olitorius, and parts of it are used in many ways. While jute stems are used to make rope, paper, and a variety of other products. It is not just for culinary uses but also is known for its medicinal properties.

They tend to have a bitter taste, though their taste may vary based on their age. Those that are harvested while young are typically more tender and flavorful, while older leaves may be earthier and more fibrous.

Since jute leaves have a slippery texture, they’re often used as a thickening agent in soups, stews, and curries. They’re quite versatile and can be found frozen, fresh, or dried.

Nutritional profile of jute leaves

Here’s the nutritional breakdown of 1 cup (28 grams) of raw jute leaves compared with 1 cup (87 grams) of cooked jute leaves.

1 cup (28 grams), raw1 cup (87 grams), cooked
Protein1 gram3 grams
Fat0.07 grams0.17 grams
Carbs2 grams6 grams
Fiber0 grams2 grams
Calcium4% of the Daily Value (DV)14% of the DV
Iron7% of the DV15% of the DV
Magnesium4% of the DV13% of the DV
Potassium3% of the DV10% of the DV
Vitamin C12% of the DV32% of the DV
Riboflavin12% of the DV13% of the DV
Folate9% of the DV23% of the DV
Vitamin A9% of the DV25% of the DV

Jute leaves are low in calories and contain numerous important vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A and C, riboflavin, folate, and iron.

Cooked jute may seem appears to offer higher concentrations of these vitamins and minerals. However, that’s because a cooked cup of jute leaves contains about three times the number of leaves.

What are it’s uses

Here’s what you need to know about its uses in the culinary and medicine world.

1. In most parts of Nigeria, they are cooked into a sticky soup known as ewedu including other ingredients such as sweet potato, dried small fish, or shrimp.

2. Another thing is, that other people prepare soups, stews, curries, vegetable dishes, and sometimes teas and tisanes using jute leaves.

Sautee Jute Leaves

3. The leaves tend to get gluey or sticky, like bhindi or okra, which is another common vegetable thickener.

4. Just like spinach and other leafy green vegetables, it can be cooked whole or can be loosely chopped to blend better with other foods and ingredients among other things.

5. In the Philippines, the leaves are cooked in a vegetable dish known as saluyot, prepared with bitter gourd, bamboo shoots, et al. The vegetable dish has a slimy texture.

6. However, the more the jute leaves are cooked, the denser, gooey, and slimy they become; something that is not appetizing.

7. Jute leaves are available in fresh, frozen, or dried form. They are mostly available in local farmers’ markets.

8. Jute leaves are also said to be a good source of beta-carotene, which is why it is used in medicines in most parts of Africa and the Middle East.

9. Additionally, Jute leaves are said to contain iron, protein, vitamin A, C, and E, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, folate, and dietary fibers.

10. More importantly, the leaves are said to have anti-inflammatory properties, which may prevent conditions like arthritis, acne, asthma, cold, et al.

May help protect against inflammation

Since Omega-3 fats are important for brain development and can help reduce inflammation in the body. On this note, you may ask, which foods come to mind when you think of omega-3 fats? For a lot of people, fatty fish, nuts, and vegetable oils pop up.

However, omega-3 fats can be found in vegetables, too, and jute leaves are one example. One of the studies found that jute leaves have the highest concentration of omega-3 fats of any reported vegetable.

Also, keep in mind that jute leaves only provide alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is converted into eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) — the active forms that your body needs.

Jute leaves also contain lycopene, an antioxidant that protects your cells against oxidative damage, which increases your disease risk. Although, their lycopene content can vary by the preparation method. For example, cooked jute leaves and older jute leaves have higher levels.

Finally, jute leaves may have an anti-inflammatory effect on the liver. A study examined rats who ate jute leaves daily for 30 days. At the end of the study, the rats had improved liver antioxidant statuses.

Keep in mind that the results of rat studies can’t necessarily be applied to human health, so more research on humans is needed. However, these early results seem to be promising.​​

May help improve bone health

Another additional benefit is, Jute leaves are high in calcium and magnesium, two minerals that are essential for daily bodily functions. The combination of both minerals is especially important in maintaining bone health, as they work in tandem to help form and maintain strong bones and teeth.

One cup (87 grams) of cooked leaves contains 184 mg of calcium and 54 mg of magnesium, which are 14% and 13% of the DV for adults, respectively.

More importantly, Calcium is the most abundant mineral in your body, and the majority of it is stored in your bones and teeth. However, without enough magnesium, your bones can’t efficiently absorb calcium.

Over a long period of high calcium intake and poor magnesium intake, calcium can eventually deposit in your blood vessels and kidneys, causing kidney stones and increasing your risk of heart disease.

Furthermore, a poor calcium-to-magnesium ratio may also increase your risk of developing osteoporosis, as the bones aren’t able to absorb that essential calcium.

However, balancing your calcium and magnesium intake ratio is a careful dance, and skewed ratios can be dangerous. The optimal ratio seems to be a 2-to-1 calcium-to-magnesium ratio.

Also, bear in mind that vitamin D and vitamin K are two other crucial nutrients for bone health, neither of which are found in jute leaves.

Support the immune system

Overall, your immune system defends your body against disease and requires several nutrients to function optimally. That is why eating jute leaves can support your immune system’s ability to fight infection by providing some of those nutrients.

Additionally, Vitamin C is an antioxidant that protects your cells from oxidative damage caused by stress, environmental pollutants, medications, lifestyle habits, and more. Moreover, oxidative damage contributes to the development of disease.

Taking a cup (87 grams) of cooked jute has 28.7 mg of vitamin C or 32% of the DV for adults. is enough to get off this vitamin which helps create pathogen-destroying immune cells, reducing your disease risk. In addition, vitamin C helps reduce inflammation, heal wounds, and maintain healthy skin.

Vitamin A is another potent antioxidant that’s abundant in jute leaves, with 259 mcg of vitamin A per cooked cup (87 grams). And that’s 25% of the DV for adults.

Especially, Vitamin A is critical for enhancing immune function. Also, it helps produce and regulate immune cells and has demonstrated therapeutic effects in treating infections.

However, processing methods may affect jute leaves’ nutrient density. One study found that processing jute leaves decreases their provitamin A carotenoid levels, while boiling jute leaves causes even larger losses

Potential downside of eating jute leaves

Food allergies can be life-threatening, and they can cause dangerous reactions when those who have them come into contact with certain foods. In these cases, the body’s immune system reacts and can result in hives, swelling of the mouth or lips, and even respiratory problems.

While jute leaves aren’t among the top food allergens, it’s recommended to avoid them if you experience any side effects after consuming them. If ingestion occurs and symptoms arise, visit your nearest emergency department as soon as possible.

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