Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Moringa - The Powerhouse


Few days back, somebody from Kenya contacted me online regarding procurement of Moringa seeds. I was surprised people were aware of Moringa in Africa since I was under the impression it was primarily grown and consumed in South East Asian countries. On inquiring, I found that Moringa leaves are fairly popular in several African countries to supplement nutritional deficiency in children. I was aware that Moringa had nutritional benefits but I was astonished when I did some more research on Moringa leaves.

Moringa leaves have
  • 7x the Vitamin C of orange
  • 4x the Vitamin A of Carrots
  • 4x the Calcium of Milk
  • 3x the Potassium of Bananas
  • 2x the Protein of Yogurt

In comparison, dry moringa leaves contain the following nutrients –
  • 25x more iron than spinach
  • 4x more protein than in eggs
  • 10x more Vitamin A than in carrots
  • 17x more Calcium than in milk
  • 15x more potassium than in bananas

In the research, it was discovered that the nutritional value is maximum in leaf powder, followed by fresh leaves while the pods contain the least nutrients of the three.  
It is extremely surprising a tree like Moringa that does not require much water, thrives well in Indian climatic conditions, is not being promoted aggressively by the government to combat malnutrition in the country. Nonetheless, it is encouraging to see entrepreneurs in Africa cultivating Moringa not only as an economic activity but also for a social cause.

I look forward to learning from our readers who may have had longer interaction and experience growing, processing or marketing this multi-faceted crop. Please feel free to post comments or contact me directly if you would like to share information or work with us. 

7 comments:

  1. Dear Techie,

    First of all, you need to post more frequently. I visit your blog twice a day to see if you've posted anything new. I must say that his website is becoming one of my favorites.
    Secondly, I read articles regarding Moringa, probably a website from Philippines, that the dried pods are a very good source of Bio-fuel. you might want to dig into it.

    Good luck,
    Muneeb

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    1. Muneeb,
      Thanks for your appreciation. Things are getting busier down here with our planting starting next week. Will try to post weekly. I will look into the dry pods.

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  2. Nutritional comparison of Moringa leaves with other food is somewhat misleading because you won't eat the leaves or leaf powder in the quantity equivalent of the food listed.

    For example, I can consume a couple of bananas (125 g each) in 5 minutes flat but to eat the same quantity (250 g) of Moringa leaf powder would take me more than sixteen days @ two teaspoon (5g) with each meal three times a day.

    Still a good find. I'll get the banana equivalent of Potassium at the end of day 1 itself. Thanks for sharing.

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    Replies
    1. Manu - You bring up a practical point in terms of realistic daily intake. If the above metrics are indeed accurate, the consumer may still be able to match significant part of their recommended daily nutritional intake. Later this year, I plan to get the leaves from our farm tested for nutritional value for an accurate assessment.

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    2. I read somewhere that Moringa leaves should be consumed within three hours of plucking them so some nutrients may be lost while taking them to lab for testing.

      But if you'd like to check nutritional content of vegetables on a regular basis, a simple way is to measure their sugar content, which is roughly representative of the nutritional content. Sugar content of fresh produce can be measured with a handheld refractometer. The resultant value is compared on a "brix scale" which allows you to rate it from poor to excellent. Handheld refractometers are available on Amazon for about $100.

      Here's an insightful and somewhat shocking article on nutritional content of vegetables today (long but highly recommended) and one on brix scale.

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  3. Manu,
    Thanks for the sharing info on refractometer. We will be getting the dry leaves tested soon, will post the details of the report.

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  4. Techie, did you ever test the dry leaves with a refractometer?

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