In Africa, the mucilaginous cooked shoots are most commonly used.
Although it is only distantly related to the vegetable spinach, it is commonly known as Malabar-, Ceylon-, Indian-, East-Indian-, Surinam-, Chinese-, or Vietnamese spinach. It is also known in English as Malabar nightshade or Malabar climbing spinach, broad bologi, poi baagi,calaloo and buffalo spinach. Its Bengali name is pui shak, its Konkani name is valchi bhaji, its Kannada name is basale soppu, and in Telugu it is called bachhali. In Vietnamese, it is called mồng tơi and is cooked with crab meat, luffa and corchorus olitorius to make soup (this soup is popular in Northern Vietnam).
Typical of leaf vegetables, it is high in vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, and calcium. It is low in calories by volume, and high in protein per calorie. The succulent mucilage is a particularly rich source of soluble fiber, thought to remove mucus and toxins from the body. The plant is also a rich source of chlorophyll.