Published: 2021-04-27

Nutritional and medicinal values of common green leafy vegetables consumed in Delta State, Nigeria: a review

Taiwo Esther Dada, Kekere Otitoloju, Randy Adjonu, Judith Crockett, Ezekiel Uba Nwose


Green leafy vegetables (GLVs) play an important role in human nutrition. In sub-Saharan African countries, GLVs are a vital source of essential micronutrients, and their consumption has long been a part of the cultural heritage of African households. In Nigeria, GLVs are either cooked as a stew or consumed raw and used as a main or a supporting dish. These GLVs have great nutritional and medicinal value. It is hypothesized that providing knowledge about the botanical description, nutritional and medicinal benefits to consumers could improve consumption, but much of existing knowledge is poorly documented and inaccessible. This paper aims to address this gap by collating information on some consumed in Delta State, Nigeria: African jointfir (Gnetum africanum, locally known as Ukazi), jute mallow, (Corchorus olitorius, locally known as Malafiya), and cassava (Manihot esculenta, Crantz), giant yellow mulberry (Myrianthus arboreus), okra (Abelmoschus esculentus), clove (Syzygium aromaticum) and bush buck, (Gongronema latifolium, locally known as Utazi) leaves.


Nutritional value, Medicinal value, Green leafy vegetables, Indigenous foods, Malnutrition, Nigeria

Full Text:



WHO, World Health Organization-Nutrition for health and development: a global agenda for combating malnutrition. 2000, Geneva: World Health Organization. Available at: handle/10665/66509. Accessed on 3 January 2021.

Van Rensburg WS, Venter SL, Netshiluvhi TR, Van den Heever E, Vorster HJ, de Ronde JA. Role of indigenous leafy vegetables in combating hunger and malnutrition. S Afri J Botany. 2004;70(1):52-9.

Banwat ME. Knowledge and intake of fruit and vegetables consumption among adults in an urban community in north central Nigeria. Nigerian Health J. 2012;12(1):12-5.

Ishiekwene IC, Dada TE. Promoting African indigenous vegetables and its medical nutrition properties: A mini-narrative review based on Ukwani communities of Delta State Nigeria. Integrative Food, Nutrition Metab. 2019;6(2):1-6.

Mnguni EM, Giampiccoli A. Indigenous food and tourism for community well-being: A possible contributing way forward. Mediterranean J Social Sci. 2015;6(3 S2):24.

Tontisirin KG, Nantel, Bhattacharjee L. Food-based strategies to meet the challenges of micronutrient malnutrition in the developing world. Proceedings Nutrition Society. 2002;61(2):243-50.

Isong E. Nutritional and phytogeriatological studies of three varieties of Gnetum africanum (‘afang’). Food chemistry, 1999;64(4):489-93.

Arowolo A. Some Leafy Vegetables and Herbs Found in Nigeria and Their Uses. 2018; Available from:

Dressler, S., M. Schmidt, and G. Zizka, Introducing African plants-a photo guide-an interactive photo data‐base and rapid identification tool for continental Africa. Taxon. 2014;63(5):1159-61.

Ali F, Assanta M, Robert C. Gnetum africanum: A wild food plant from the African forest with many nutritional and medicinal properties. J Med Food. 2011;14:1289-97.

Arowosegbe SS, Oyeyemi, Alo O. Investigation on the medicinal and nutritional potentials of some vegetables consumed in Ekiti State, Nigeria. Int Res J Natural Sci. 2015;3(1):16-30.

Roy A. Evaluation of genetic diversity in jute (Corchorus species) using STMS, ISSR and RAPD markers. Plant breeding. 2006;125(3):292-7.

Odofin A. Determination of evapotranspiration and crop coefficients for bush okra (Corchorus olitorius) in a sub-humid area of Nigeria. Afr J Agricultural Res. 2011;6(17):3949-53.

Grubben G, Denton O. Plant Resources of Tropical Africa 2. Vegetables. PROTA Foundation, Wageningen, Netherlands. backhuys Publishers, Leiden, Netherlands/CTA, Wgeningen Netherlands. 2004;4(05):2008.

Adeniyi SJ, Ehiagbonare, Nwangwu S. Nutritional evaluation of some staple leafy vegetables in Southern Nigeria. Int J Agricultural Food Sci. 2012;2(2):37-43.

Chipurura B. An assessment of the phenolic content, composition and antioxidant capacity of Bidens pilosa, Cleome gynandra, Corchorus olitorius, Galinsoga parviflora and Amaranthus hybridus. in I All Africa Horticultural Congress. 2009;911.

Kamga RT. Nutritional evaluation of five African Indigenous vegetables. J Horticultural Res. 2013;21(1):99.

Habib OA. Ethnobotanical Knowledge of Jute (Corchorus olitorius L.) in Benin. Eur J Med Plants. 2018;26:1-11.

Dansi A. Traditional leafy vegetables in Benin: folk nomenclature, species under threat and domestication. Acta Botanica Gallica, 2009;156(2):183-99.

Adegoke A, Adebayo-Tayo B. Phytochemical composition and antimicrobial effects of Corchorous olitorius leaf extracts on four bacterial isolates. J Medi Plants Res. 2009;3(3):155-9.

Randhawa MA, Watson RR. Chapter 18-Green Leafy Vegetables: A Health Promoting Source, in Handbook of Fertility. Academic Press: San Diego. 2015;205-20.

Ibrahim FM. Fruity response efficacy and fruit consumption among a group of civil servants of Oyo State, Nigeria. Am J Clin Nutrit. 2011;1(1):44-8.

Nyadanu D. Domestication of jute mallow (Corchorus olitorius L.): ethnobotany, production constraints and phenomics of local cultivars in Ghana. Genetic Resources Crop Evolution. 2017;64(6):1313-29.

Ufuan Achidi A. The Use of Cassava Leaves as food in Africa. Ecol Food Nutrition. 2005;44(6):423-35.

Lancaster P, Brooks J. Cassava leaves as human food. Economic Botany. 1983;37(3):331-48.

Latif S, Müller J. Potential of cassava leaves in human nutrition: a review. Trends in Food Sci Technol. 2015;44(2):147-58.

Montagnac JA, Davis CR, Tanumihardjo SA. Nutritional Value of Cassava for Use as a Staple Food and Recent Advances for Improvement. Comprehensive Reviews Food Sci Food Safety. 2009;8(3):181-94.

Aregheore EM. Nutritive value and inherent anti-nutritive factors in four indigenous edible leafy vegetables in human nutrition in Nigeria: a review. J Food Sci Res. 2012;1:1-14.

Alalor CEA, Okafo S. Preliminary characterization of novel gum obtained from Myrianthus arboreus leaves as pharmaceutical excipient. Saudi J Med Pharmaceutical Sci. 2017;1156-61.

Agyare C. Wound healing and anti-infective properties of Myrianthus arboreus and Alchornea cordifolia. Medicinal Chem. 2014;4(7).

Amata I. Nutritive Value of the Leaves of Myrianthus arboreus. Int J Agricultural Res. 2010;5(8):576-81.

Olonode ET, Aderibigbe AO, Bakre AG. Anti-nociceptive activity of the crude extract of Myrianthus arboreus P. Beauv (Cecropiaceae) in mice. J ethnopharmacol. 2015;171:94-8.

Benchasri S. Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus (L.) Moench) as a valuable vegetable of the world. Ratarstvo i Povrtarstvo. 2012;49(1):105-12.

Kumar DS. A review on: Abelmoschus esculentus (okra). Int Res J Pharmaceutical Appl Sci. 2013;3(4):129-32.

Owolarafe O, Shotonde H. Some physical properties of fresh okro fruit. J Food Engineering. 2004;63(3):299-302.

Ahiakpa J. Mucilage Content of 21 accessions of Okra (Abelmoschus spp L.). Scientia Agriculturae. 2014;2(2):96-101.

USFDA, US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Nutrient Data Laboratory. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 11972. Version Current April, 2018. Available at: Accessed on 3 January 2021.

Olaiya C, Adebisi J. Phytoevaluation of the nutritional values of ten green leafy vegetables in South-Western Nigeria. Internet J Nutrition Wellness. 2010;9(2).

Herry C, Kam N, Ellyn. Study on the stability of antioxidant and anti-α-glucosidase activities using soaking treatment of Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus L.) mucilage extracts. Chemistry Int. 2017;3:203-12.

Ansari N, Houlihan L, Hussain B, Pieroni A. Antioxidant activity of five vegetables traditionally consumed by south‐Asian migrants in Bradford, Yorkshire, UK. Phytotherapy Research. Int J Devoted to Pharmacological Toxicological Evaluation Natural Product Derivatives. 2005;19(10):907-11.

Durazzo A, Lucarini M, Novellino E, Souto EB, Daliu P, Santini A. Abelmoschus esculentus (L.): Bioactive Components' Beneficial Properties-Focused on Antidiabetic Role-For Sustainable Health Applications. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland). 2018;24(1):38.

Atawodi S, Atawodi JC, Idakwo GA, Pfundstein B, Haubner R, Wurtele G, Spiegelhalder B. Polyphenol composition and antioxidant potential of Hibiscus esculentus L. fruit cultivated in Nigeria. J Med Food. 2009;12(6):1316-20.

Chanchal DK. A brief review on Abelmoschus esculentus linn. okra. Int J Pharmaceutical Sci Res. 2018;9(1):58-66.

Cortés-Rojas DF, de Souza, Oliveira WP. Clove (Syzygium aromaticum): a precious spice. Asian Pacific J Trop Biomed. 2014;4(2):90-6.

Jirovetz L. Chemical composition and antioxidant properties of clove leaf essential oil. J Agricultural Food Chem. 2006;54(17):6303-7.

Nataly M. Cloves-Continuing Professional Development. J Pri Health Care. 2015;7(2):163.

Etesin U. Screening for Minerals and Anti-minerals Composition of Gongronema latifolium (Utasi) Leaf. Asian J Chem Sci. 2018;1-8.

Balogun M. Gongronema latifolium: A phytochemical, nutritional and pharmacological review. J Physiol Pharmacol Advances. 2016;6:811-24.

Mensah J, Okoli R., Ohaju-Obodo J, Eifediyi K. Phytochemical, nutritional and medical properties of some leafy vegetables consumed by Edo people of Nigeria. African J Biotechnol. 2008;7(14):2304-9.

Okpala B. Global Food Book: Recipe of Life- Benefits of Gongronema latifolium (Utazi). Available from: Accessed on 30th July 2020.