Health Benefits of Gongura (Sorrel Leaves)

The Gongura leaves are also known as sorrel leaves from the perennial plant. The Gongura is used for many medicinal and culinary purposes. The botanical or scientific name of the gongura is Hibiscus sabdariffa (Roselle).

The Gongura leaves are very famous in the states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh in India. It has an excellent source of protein, carbohydrates, and fiber. The leaves also have a good source of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin c, vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B9, iron, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium.

The Gongura is commonly known as Pulicha keerai in Tamil, Pitwaa in Hindi, and has excellent health benefits. It is one of the popular plants in India cultivated for its green leaves. The Gongura is used to make several varieties of dishes like gongura pickle, gongura pachadi, gongura Pappu, gongura chicken, gongura dal, and more.

It comes with a unique tangy taste, and it is the primary component in Indian Andhra food recipes. Due to its sour taste, it’s called sour grass, sour leaves, and sour grabs. The Gongura has an excellent source of antioxidants that helps to improve your overall health.

Common Name of Gongura

  • Scientific Name: Hibiscus sabdariffa
  • English Name: Sorrel leaves or Roselle
  • Hindi Name: Pitwaa / पिटवा
  • Tamil Name: Pulicha Keerai / புளிச்சைக் கீரை
  • Telugu Name: Gongura / గోంగురా
  • Marathi Name: Ambadi / अंबाडी
  • Assam Name: Tenga Mora
  • Oriya Name: Khata Palanga / ଖଟା ପାଲଙ୍ଗା |
  • Bengali Name: Mestapat / মস্তাপট

Where is the Gongura Plant Grown?

The native place of the gongura is India and Malaysia, and it also cultivated some parts of Africa. 

The gongura plant comes under the Hibiscus family, and it is highly grown in a tropical climate. 

The common name of the Hibiscus sabdariffa is sour spinach, gongura, ambadi, Roselle, Mesta, ambada, pulachakiri, and pulichchakerai. 

Nowadays, the gongura is widely cultivated in Andhra Pradesh, Tamilnadu, Telangana, Kerala, Karnataka, Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura, and other northeastern states. 

It is also cultivated in Chittagong, a hill region in Bangladesh. The Caribbean people call gongura as Roselle and they use its flowers more than the leaves.

Gongura Plant Varieties

The gongura plants come in 2 different types such as green stemmed gongura (Kenaf) and red stemmed gongura (Roselle).

Kenaf (Green Stemmed Gongura)

The green stemmed gongura is not sourer than red stemmed gongura. It grows up to 11 feet tall. The young gongura plants are commonly simple, but they become 3 to 5 lobes as the plant grows. The green variety gongura flowers are about 8 cm to 15 cm diameter, and it comes with purple, white, and yellow flowers. Another essential difference between Roselle and kenaf is the fruit pod, there will be lots of miniature capsule in kenaf. It is about 1.5 to 2 cm in diameter.

Not only the leaves the whole parts of gongura is used for various purposes, it’s a main ingredient for many mouth-watering dishes. The Stems produce fiber which is a best by-product for industries. The natural color of the fiber is white, no other chemical or artifical substances is used.

Roselle ( Red Stemmed Gongura )

The red stemmed gongura’s scientific name is Hibiscus Sabdariffa. The red stemmed gongura is more sour compared to the green stemmed gongura. The red stemmed variety grows up to 8 feet tall, and the leaves are alternate and are 3 to 5 lobed.

The red stemmed variety flowers are white to pale yellow with a fleshy red color. The calyx expands as the fruit matures and fully attaches to the velvety capsule containing the seeds. Both the calyx and leaves are widely used for medicinal purposes and cooking. The stems of Roselle is also used to produce fiber.

Utilizations of Gongura 

1. The tender gongura leaves are widely used to make pickles, curries, and chutneys.

2. The dried gongura is the best tasty and healthy spice mix.

3. The dried gongura flowers are used in making syrup, juice, sauce, jam, and tea.

4. Stem, seeds, and pods of the gongura plant are utilized in the pharmaceutical industry.

5. The roselle plant has beautiful red flowers, and nowadays, roselle red flowers are also used for decoration purposes.

6. The red stemmed gongura calyx is boiled in water and used to make soups, syrups, and consumed worldwide. The roselle seeds are cooked and consumed in several countries.

7. The gongura oil is extracted from the gongura seeds and is used in culinary to prepare various food items. The roasted gongura seeds are utilized as a coffee substitute. In India, the leaves are used for both medicinal and culinary purposes.

8. The calyx has many medicinal qualities that helps to lower blood pressure, sore throat, treat fever, cough, and constipation. The gongura leaf paste is utilized to treat wounds, and the seeds are used to enhance lactation.

Health Benefits of Hibiscus sabdariffa | Gongura | Sorrel Leaves | Pulichchakerai

The gongura leaves come with a rich nutritional value and offer many health and medicinal benefits. Here are some of the benefits,

Increases Blood Quality & Protects Liver

  • The Gongura leaves and flowers have a cooling effect, so it helps to reduce the heat in your body.
  • It reduces the liver toxins and fat in your body, and thus improves your liver health.
  • The gongura reduces the load on the liver. It also has a protective effect on the liver. By consuming gongura leaves regularly, the red blood cells will be purified.

Reduces Cholesterol Level

  • The gongura leaves have lipid lowering properties that help to prevent cardiovascular diseases.
  • The water extracted from the gongura plant reduces the whole cholesterol levels, LDL, and triglyceride in your body.
  • The roselle tea is also used to decrease cholesterol levels.

Prevents Hypertension

  • The gongura leaves have a high amount of potassium and magnesium that helps to lower the blood pressure.
  • The leaves have an excellent ability to reduce bad cholesterol and triglycerides and increase your body’s good cholesterol.
  • It also improves high density lipoproteins levels, and these properties make it an excellent food for hypertension people.

Enhance Eyesight

  • If you suffer from eye vision problems, the gongura leaves are one of the best remedies for visibility issues.
  • The leaves help to enhance your eye vision as it has a high amount of vitamin A.
  • Vitamin A boosts your eyesight and reduces night blindness.
  • If you eat the leaves daily, you can see the objects clearly without any difficulties.
  • Gongura has high antioxidants that prevent age-related cataracts and macular degeneration.

Antispasmodic Properties

  • The extract from gongura flowers has antispasmodic properties, and the roselle tea made using roselle calyx can be utilized to relieve menstrual pain.
  • The presence of polyphenols causes antispasmodic properties.
  • If you are distressed from menstrual pain, you can drink a dried roselle calyx tea that reduces the menstrual pain within a few minutes.

Helps in Weight Loss

  • The sorrel leaves have an excellent source of vitamins, protein, carbohydrates, minerals, and they have a small amount of fat and low in calories.
  • These are the better choices for health-conscious people.
  •  The leaves are highly rich in fiber, which will quench your appetite and make you feel full for a long time.
  • It also has diuretic properties, which prevent fluid retention by improving the urination frequency. This stops weight gain.

The gongura nutrients offer necessary nourishment to your body to improve your health without adding additional calories. The sorrel extract also has anti-obesity properties that reduce all obesity-related problems.

Antioxidant Properties

  • Free radicals are formed in your body through metabolic processes, vulnerability to sunlight, and vulnerability to environmental toxins like cigarette smoke and industrial chemicals.
  • These free radicals can alter your DNA, damage your cellular membranes, and lead to life-threatening diseases like heart attack and cancer.

Antioxidants help to eliminate the harmful free radicals and prevent you from those deadly diseases. You can intake gongura regularly, as it is very beneficial for your health and body. It includes an extreme level of antioxidants, which reduce free radicals in your body.

Antifungal & Antibacterial Properties

  • The pitwaa plant extract has excellent anti-fungal and antibacterial properties.
  • These properties act as a microbial that protects your body from bacterial strains such as S. Aureus, Micrococcus Luteus, Escherichia Coli, etc.
  • The gongura leaves have anti-inflammatory properties that heal boils, ulcers, and wounds. It also helps to treat itchy skin, swelling, ringworm, and scorbutic diseases, etc.

Boost Digestive Health

  • The Ambadi is high in dietary fiber that boosts your digestive health. Adding gongura to your food makes digestion easier.
  • It normalizes the bowel movements in your body, and also prevents digestive problems such as diarrhea, constipation, and bloating.
  • Gongura includes active antioxidant compounds called anthraquinones, which offers extra support to your body’s digestive health.
  • These compounds improve muscular activity and fluid secretion in the intestines. The Ambadi leaves also reduces constipation.

Enhance Immunity

  • Regular intake of sorrel leaves, increase your body’s immunity power, and protect your body from harmful elements and toxins.
  • The gongura leaves cleanses the digestive tract, liver, and kidneys; it also removes the toxins in your body.
  • High vitamin C is obtained from the leaves , an ascorbic acid, which supports the immune function by improving antibodies and white blood cells.
  • The sorrel leaves are rich in iron, which increases the red blood cells production in your blood. It also enhances blood circulation, oxygen supply and improves energy levels.

Improves Hair Health

  • It is a beneficial home remedy for hair problems that can cure dry, damaged, and dull hair.
  • Regular consumption of gongura leaves effectively reduces hair loss and the balding process.
  • The leaves are an outstanding tonic for your hair. They can improve your hair strong, healthy, and lustrous. The gongura significantly prevents early aging of the hair.

Prevents Anemia

  • Nowadays, most women are anemic due to post pregnancy, lack of nutrition, and heavy bleeding during periods. Anemia can be caused by lack of red blood cells or hemoglobin in the blood.
  • This causes heart palpitations, fatigue, weakness, weariness, and shortness of breath.
  • The Pitwaa is an excellent source of sodium, phosphorus and also includes chlorophyll.
  • The sorrel leaves rich in iron improve red blood cell production, and reduce iron deficiency.

Reduce Breast Milk Flow

  • The lactating mothers who need to stop breastfeeding can eat gongura leaves.
  • Daily consumption of gongura reduces the breast milk supply for the mothers who want to stop breastfeeding to their babies.
  • But new mothers should not eat these leaves because your baby needs more breast milk which helps to improve babies’ health and body.

Prevents Cancer

  • According to the research, gongura leaves have antioxidants that can kill malignant cells and stop their growth.
  • It helps to avoid the growth of tumors and cancerous cells in the body. Gongura leaves have chlorophyll that improves oxygen levels in your body. 
  • This process also reduces the cancerous cells’ growth in the body. The Gongura is one of the essential remedies or medicines for breast cancer. Consuming more sorrel leaves can be harmful, intake of limited sorrel leaves is very important.

Maintain Bones Stronger

  • The sorrel leaves contain excellent magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium sources, which improve strong and healthy bones in your body.
  • These minerals also prevent osteoporosis and bone loss. The Gongura leaves are very beneficial for women as they enter their 30s, because the bones might be weak at that stage.


Hibiscus sabdariffa is one of the annual plants. But tender and fresh leaves typically begin to flow into the warehouse or market during the rainy season. Gongura leaves get sour when the temperature in the atmosphere increases. Therefore, in summer the taste becomes sourer than those available throughout the year.

Nutritional value of Gongura

The gongura leaves contain about 0.3 grams of fat, 9.2 grams of carbohydrates, and 3.3 grams of protein.

It is also rich in iron, riboflavin, phosphorus, vitamin C, and carotene. The gongura seed oil contains primary fatty acids like stearic acid and palmitic acid. It also has unsaturated fatty acids such as oleic acid and linoleic acid.

> Calories: 25 KCal
> Protein: 0.6g
> Crude Fiber: 1.3g
> Fat: 0.2 g
> Carbohydrates: 5.1 g
> Iron: 1.7mg
> Calcium: 130 mg
> Magnesium: 123 mg
> Phosphorus: 20 mg
> Potassium, Manganese, Zinc, Sodium, Copper: In Traces

Chemical Constituents of Gongura

The gongura plant has central bio active constituents. They are flavonoids, anthocyanins, polysaccharides, phenolic compounds, and organic acids. Phytochemical analysis from the dried calyces of Hibiscus Sabdariffa showed glycosides, tannins, alkaloids, saponins, and phenols.

Gongura Health Recipes 

Most people take in gongura leaves as raw, lightly stir-fried, salad, beverage, and added to curries. It provides a tangy and delicious taste for both vegetarian and non-vegetarian curries. It is also used for mutton and chicken curries in India. Andhra Pradesh people use Gongura for cooking. They make many varieties of dishes such as Gongura chutney, Gongura Pickle, Gongura Pappu, roselle tea, and more dishes. The leaves are strong in taste when raw, but they turn super soft while heated. The addition of chili and ghee imparts a distinctive flavor to the foods with gongura.

1. Gongura Pachadi | Gongura Chutney | Pulicha Keerai Thokku

The Gongura chutney is also known as pulicha keerai thokku and pulicha keerai thuvaiyal in Tamil. This chutney is one of the easiest and delicious recipes in gongura. It is sweeter and crunchy than the usual Andhra style Gongura pachadi. You can also add peanuts and jaggery to it, so that kids like the dish very much.

1. Chopping Board
2. Pan

4 cloves of Garlic
200 g fresh Gongura leaves
1 1/2 tsp Turmeric
1 medium Onion
1 regular red chili
1 tsp Mustard seeds
1 1/2 tsp Coriander Powder
1 tbsp urad dal
2 tbsp Roasted Peanuts
2 tsp Jaggery
2 tsp Cooking oil


For the chutney or Thokku, first separate the Gongura leaves from the stem and wash the leaves in water and drain. Heat 2 tbsp cooking oil in a pan, add 1 tbsp urad lentils, 2 red chilies, and a small piece of asafoetida and fry till the dal changes golden brown.

Now add a little more oil and 1 cup chopped gongura leaves with 2 chopped garlic cloves. Fry in low or medium flame till leaves wilts and the leaf’s color changes and then off the flame. Now grind everything along with salt and a small bit of jaggery without adding water for thick chutney.

2. Roselle Tea ( Gongura Tea) | Hibiscus Tea

Some Gongura leaves
2 cloves
small cinnamon stick
sugar or jaggery (optional)
1 cup water

Boil the water in a pan and add some dried gongura leaves, cloves, and cinnamon stick spices to it. After 10 minutes, strain the gongura tea into a cup. Add jaggery or sugar as per your needs. The roselle tea has amazing health benefits, both blood pressure and diabetic patients can try it.

3. Gongura Pickle

Gongura leaves
Red Chili
Sesame oil
mustard seeds

Grind the gongura leaves with a small piece of jaggery, red chili, and salt(as per your need). Heat the pan, put some sesame oil in a pan and add mustard seeds and then the ground paste. Mix the paste and fry well until the oil oozes out. Then you can switch off the flame and store it for later use.

4. Gongura Pappu

Gongura Pappu is a tangy, spicy soup recipe prepared with gongura leaves and yellow beans. It has a delicious creamy texture.

Pressure cooker

200 g of fresh gongura leaves
1 1/2 cups yellow pigeon peas
2 tbsp ghee
1 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 1/2 tsp coriander seeds powder
1 1/2 roasted cumin seeds powder
1 pinch asafetida
2 garlic cloves
2 tsp black pepper
1 medium onion
1 1/2 tsp salt


--> Preparing Leaves & Beans

Wash and soak the yellow pigeon beans for about 30 mins in water. After washing the gongura leaves in water, separate the leaves from the stem and discard the stem. Chop the gongura leaves coarsely and keep it aside. Lastly, Chop garlic and onion.

--> Preparing Soup

Heat the pressure cooker and then add ghee on it. When the ghee gets hot, add a pinch of mustard seeds and asafetida. After the seeds get crackled, add chopped garlic and onion. Mix well the ingredients till it changes to a golden brown color.

Add 1 1/2 tsp turmeric powder, coriander seeds powder, and salt. Stir the mixture well for a few seconds. After adding soaked beans and chopped gongura leaves and add 3 cups of water. Close the pressure cooker and cook it in a low to medium heat.

Let the ingredients cook well for 7 to 10 mins or up to 2 whistles. After that off the stove and leave the pressure to release. Then sprinkle black pepper and cumin seeds powder. Now you can serve the gongura Pappu with chapati and rice.

Side Effects of Gungura

Gongura contains a high amount of oxalic acid; if you consume more leaves it may cause oxalate poisoning which can cause damages to the liver, kidneys, and gastrointestinal tract.

The gongura leaves can cause acidity in some people, and it is usually caused by eating foods, excessive usage of painkillers and tamarind foods, processed foods, antibiotics, etc.

Suppose if you take an excessive amount of gongura leaves, it can cause bleeding disorders, skin rashes, and bacterial and fungal infections. As the leaves have a tangy sour taste, it can cause pitta and Kapha imbalance.


The gongura has numerous health benefits. It is one of the best nutrient-dense and versatile green leafy vegetables available in the world. It is used in making various dishes. Rural and tribal people have been using these leaves for several years to treat their stomach-related problems. The rural people  use this gongura leaf in their daily foods to attain fantastic health benefits.

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