Pumpkin Leaves: How To Make A Healthy Vegetable From Them

Pumpkin leaves are edible and tasty, at least some of them. Are pumpkin leaves the new superfood? All the nutrients of pumpkin leaves and the instructions on how to make a healthy vegetable from pumpkin leaves are here with us!

Pumpkin leaves are edible – but not all pumpkin leaves

The leaves of squash are edible, but not those of ornamental squashes. The latter taste bitter and contain the toxin cucurbitacin. The leaves of edible pumpkins, on the other hand, are non-toxic and have a pleasantly mild taste.

Unlike some other leafy greens, the squash plant grows quickly, often faster than snails can eat it, so harvest success is almost guaranteed.

So if you don’t shy away from the effort of preparation, you can use it to prepare a fine and nutritious vegetable. Effort because first the fibers of the leaves should be removed and also some of the small spines. Otherwise, the squash leafy greens would not be a treat. With a bit of practice, however, you don’t need more than 10 minutes (plus cooking time).

Pumpkin leafy greens are a traditional dish in Africa

Pumpkin leaves have long been eaten as a vegetable in Africa, Indonesia, and Malaysia. In Africa e.g. B. in Zambia, Tanzania, Nigeria, or Zimbabwe.

A video by the children’s charity ChildFund Germany, which is helping to improve people’s nutritional situation in Zambia, shows how the traditional dish Nshima Chibwawa is prepared there. It consists of pumpkin leafy greens with tomatoes and peanuts, served with corn porridge. You can find the worth-seeing video in our sources at the bottom.

Are Pumpkin Leaves a New Superfood?

Pumpkin leaves contain numerous nutrients and vital substances but are not THE superfood par excellence. In terms of nutrient profile, they can be compared to other leafy vegetables and contain more of one nutrient and less of the other.

However, it is not about finding a new superfood, but about finding out which previously unnoticed plant parts are actually edible vegetables.

Pumpkin leaves: nutrients, minerals, and vitamins

Like any leafy vegetable, pumpkin leaves are high in water, low in fat, and low in carbohydrates. They are correspondingly low in calories.

If you are missing some nutrients from the nutritional information below, it is because there is very little information available and the missing nutrients may simply not have been analyzed yet.

The nutritional values ​​given below refer to the raw pumpkin leaves so you have to assume slightly lower vitamin values ​​for cooked pumpkin leaves, as heating inevitably leads to nutrient losses.

The mineral and vitamin values ​​given after the brackets refer to the cooked pumpkin leaves, but these nutritional values ​​come from a different source so of course other leaves were used here and one has to assume that there are variety-related and natural fluctuations.


For a leafy vegetable, pumpkin leaves are relatively high in protein. In the raw version, they contain 3.15 g of protein per 100 g. For comparison: Swiss chard 2.1 g, dandelion leaves 2.9 g, spinach 2.3 g, lamb’s lettuce 1.8 g, nettle 7 g.

Per 100 g raw pumpkin leaves contain the following nutrients (the values ​​of the cooked leaves are in brackets):

  • Water: 92.88g
  • Calories: 19 (21)
  • kJ: 79 (88)
  • Protein: 3.15g (2.7g)
  • Fat: 0.4g (0.2g)
  • Carbohydrates: 2.33 g (3.4 g) including fiber
  • Fiber: (2.7g)

Minerals and trace elements

As far as minerals are concerned, apart from potassium, there are no particular maximum values. The potassium content is in the upper range, so pumpkin leaves, like other leafy greens, are high-potassium vegetables.

Perhaps the iron content (2.2 mg or 3.2 mg – depending on the source) should also be emphasized. It exceeds that of some conventional vegetables, but is still lower than the iron content of chard (2.7 mg), fennel (2.7 mg), watercress (2.9 mg), and dandelion (3, 1 mg) and, with regard to the cooked leaves, lower than the iron content of spinach (4.1 mg) and Jerusalem artichoke (3.7 mg).

Pumpkin leaves contain the following minerals and trace elements per 100 g (the official daily requirement for a (non-pregnant) adult is given in brackets (according to DGE)):

  • Calcium: 39 mg (1,000 mg) 43 mg
  • Iron: 2.22 mg (12.5 mg) 3.2 mg
  • Magnesium: 38 mg (350 mg) 38 mg
  • Phosphorus: 104 mg (700 mg) 79 mg
  • Potassium: 436 mg (4,000 mg) 438 mg
  • Sodium: 11 mg (1,500 mg) 8 mg
  • Zinc: 0.2mg (8.5mg) 0.2mg
  • Copper: 0.133mg (1.25mg) 0.1mg
  • Manganese: 0.355 mg (3.5 mg) 0.4 mg
  • Selenium: 0.9 µg (60 – 70 µg) 0.9 µg


When it comes to vitamins, it is vitamins A and K are contained in relevant amounts. After all, some B vitamins will cover around 10 percent of the requirement per 100 g of pumpkin leaves. However, the already low vitamin C content drops to just 1 mg when cooked, so it is not worth mentioning.

Per 100 g pumpkin leaves contain the following vitamins (where only the value to the right of the brackets refers to the cooked leaves since the raw leaves are missing from the source):

  • Vitamin A (retinol equivalent): 97 mcg (900 mcg) 480 mcg
  • Vitamin C: 11mg (100mg) 1mg
  • Vitamin B1: 0.094mg (1.1mg) 0.1mg
  • Vitamin B2: 0.128mg (1.2mg) 0.1mg
  • Vitamin B3: 0.920mg (15mg) 0.9mg
  • Vitamin B5: 0.042mg (6mg) 0mg
  • Vitamin B6: 0.207mg (2mg) 0.2mg
  • Folate: 36 mcg (300 mcg) 25 mcg
  • Vitamin E: (12-15mg) 1mg
  • Vitamin K: (70-80mcg) 108mcg
  • Choline: (425 – 550 mg) 21 mg

How Healthy Are Pumpkin Leaves?

Now, some sites list the health benefits of pumpkin leaves:

  • They are said to protect against cancer and eye diseases (because they contain so much vitamin A),
  • help reduce excess weight (because they are low in calories and rich in vitamins),
  • reduce high blood pressure (because they are high in potassium and potassium is good for the cardiovascular system),
  • protect against infections (because of their vitamin C content, which – as you can see above – is not really high),
  • mobilize the digestive system due to their roughage and much more.

All of these properties apply to almost every (leaf) vegetable, so they are not unique to the pumpkin leaves. However, these properties are particularly valuable for e.g. B. in some African zones where at times no other green leafy vegetables grow and so the pumpkin leafy vegetables can actually be of enormously high health value.

How do you prepare pumpkin leaves?

The preparation of pumpkin leaves is a bit time-consuming, as you cannot simply wash, cut, and cook the leaves, but first remove the fibers and sometimes the spines. Young leaves are more pleasant to prepare, as they don’t have as pronounced spines (or tender and therefore edible spines) and hardly any fibers.

The stalks can also be used, but only – if at all – the stalks of very young leaves, otherwise they are too fibrous.

It’s best to watch a video on how to prepare pumpkin leaves (e.g. here) as it shows you very well how to remove the fibers (where most of the spines are also attached). To do this, the fibers are pulled from the base of the stem over the leaf. Then you can use the sheet.

Squash Leafy Vegetables: The Basic Recipe

In the recipe below, the cooking water is drained. In other recipes, the pumpkin leaves are only steamed with a little water so that the cooking water does not have to be poured off and in this way, you can avoid the loss of vital substances associated with pouring off. Since the leaves are not very rich in oxalic acid, pouring them off is also not necessary for this reason.


  • 30 pumpkin leaves, defined and cut into small pieces
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 tomato, diced (skinned if desired)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ tsp baking soda to soften the leaves (not necessary for very young, tender leaves)
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 tbsp cream (e.g. almond cream, soy cream, or coconut milk)


  1. Bring salted water to a boil and add the leaves. Add the baking soda and cook for 5 minutes or until the leaves are tender.
    Remove the pot from the stovetop and drain the water.
  2. Separately, sauté the onion and tomato in the oil, season with salt and pepper, and stir in the cooked pumpkin leaves.
  3. It is traditionally served with Sadza (maize porridge) or rice. There are also recipes with yams. Enjoy your meal!

Can you eat pumpkin leaves raw?

Pumpkin leaves can also be eaten raw in a salad, of course only the very young and tender leaves.

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Written by Madeline Adams

My name is Maddie. I am a professional recipe writer and food photographer. I have over six years of experience developing delicious, simple, and replicable recipes that your audience will be drooling over. I’m always on the pulse of what’s trending and what people are eating. My educational background is in Food Engineering and Nutrition. I am here to support all of your recipe writing needs! Dietary restrictions and special considerations are my jam! I’ve developed and perfected more than two hundred recipes with focuses ranging from health and wellness to family-friendly and picky-eater-approved. I also have experience in gluten-free, vegan, paleo, keto, DASH, and Mediterranean Diets.

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