If you’ve never heard of jute leaves before, perhaps this article will 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 are also referred to as edewu, ayoyo, and rau day, among many other names (1).
Jute leaves 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.
This article covers jute leaves’ nutritional content, potential health benefits, and downsides, as well as provides you with tasty recipes to try jute leaves at home.
|1 cup (28 grams), raw||1 cup (87 grams), cooked|
|Protein||1 gram||3 grams|
|Fat||0.07 grams||0.17 grams|
|Carbs||2 grams||6 grams|
|Fiber||0 grams||2 grams|
|Calcium||4% of the Daily Value (DV)||14% of the DV|
|Iron||7% of the DV||15% of the DV|
|Magnesium||4% of the DV||13% of the DV|
|Potassium||3% of the DV||10% of the DV|
|Vitamin C||12% of the DV||32% of the DV|
|Riboflavin||12% of the DV||13% of the DV|
|Folate||9% of the DV||23% of the DV|
|Vitamin A||9% of the DV||25% 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 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.
Beyond culinary uses, jute leaves have been used for medicinal purposes in Ayurvedic healing for centuries.
Here are a few potential health benefits of cooked jute leaves.
May help protect against inflammation
Omega-3 fats are important for brain development and can help reduce inflammation in the body. Which foods come to mind when you think of omega-3 fats? For many 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. In fact, one study found that jute leaves have the highest concentration of omega-3 fats of any reported vegetable (
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. Their lycopene content can vary by the preparation method. For example, cooked jute leaves and older jute leaves have higher levels (7).
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 in humans is needed. However, these early results are promising.
May help improve bone health
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 (
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in your body, and the majority of it is stored in your bones and teeth. Without 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 (
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 (
Support the immune system
Your immune system defends your body against disease and requires several nutrients to function optimally. Eating jute leaves can support your immune system’s ability to fight infection by providing some of those nutrients.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that protects your cells from oxidative damage caused by stress, environmental pollutants, medications, lifestyle habits, and more. Oxidative damage contributes to the development of disease (
A cup (87 grams) of cooked jute has 28.7 mg of vitamin C, or 32% of the DV for adults. Getting enough of this vitamin helps create pathogen-destroying immune cells, reducing your disease risk. Plus, 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). That’s 25% of the DV for adults (
Vitamin A is critical for enhancing immune function. In fact, 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 (
Jute leaves are loaded with vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A and vitamin C, that may help reduce inflammation, promote bone health, and ramp up the immune system. Cooked jute leaves may offer more benefits than raw ones.
Food allergies can be life threatening, causing 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 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 (
Those who are allergic to jute leaves should avoid them altogether. If you experience an allergic reaction, visit your nearest emergency department.
One of the great things about jute leaves is that they can be enjoyed in diverse ways.
Since jute leaves have a gelatinous texture, they’re a popular thickening agent in soups and stews. In Nigeria, ewedu is a popular soup made with jute leaves, amala (pounded yam), and dried fish (1).
To try it at home, check out this recipe from Chef Lola’s Kitchen.
In Egypt, minced jute leaves are drizzled with lemon juice and olive oil in a classic dish called mulukhiyah (1).
Here’s an easy and simple recipe for you to try.
Alternatively, you can enjoy dried jute leaf tea, which is a common beverage in Japan (1).
Finally, like other leafy greens, jute leaves can be washed, loosely chopped into a salad, and enjoyed raw.
You can find jute leaves in the frozen vegetable section of your supermarket or — depending on your geographical region — in the fresh produce section. They may also be found at farmers markets.
Jute leaves can be enjoyed boiled, sautéed, or dried into tea leaves. You can buy them fresh or frozen in a grocery store or at farmers markets, depending on your location.
Jute leaves are very popular and versatile vegetables. They’re rich in immune- and bone-supporting nutrients like calcium and vitamins A and C, just to name a few.
You can enjoy jute leaves by adding them to stews and stir-fries. Alternatively, you can also enjoy them raw, which is just as healthy and delicious, by adding them to smoothies and salads.