Moringa leaf

KZN scientist touts the ‘miracle’ moringa tree

A ‘miracle’ tree from India and West Africa has been touted as a potential solution to malnutrition and as a biofuel by a scientist at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

The leaves of the Moringa oleifera tree contains more vitamin A than carrots, more calcium than milk, more iron than spinach, and more vitamin C than oranges. And the protein quality in the leaves rivals that of milk and eggs, says Dr Samson Tesfay, a researcher for the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Horticultural Science department.

Tesfay, who completed his doctoral thesis last year on avocados as a source of energy and antioxidants, was approached to conduct laboratory tests on moringa seeds. He has become passionate about the plant, the properties of which are little known in the Western world.

The Moringa oleifera, also called the drumstick tree because of its long, thin, triangular seed pods, has been used in India for centuries.

The leaves, which are the most nutritious part of the plant, can be cooked, steamed, eaten raw in a salad, dried at a low temperature to ensure the nutrients remain intact, and ground into a fine powder which can be contained in capsules.

Tesfay said the immature seed pods, full of essential amino acids, can also be eaten raw or cooked. In parts of Southern and East Africa, moringa trees have been cultivated for use in water purification.

But with earth’s oil reserves running low, one of the moringa tree’s greatest potential uses, said Tesfay, is as a raw material for the production of biofuel.

“The seeds are extremely high in oil content and because they don’t constitute a staple food source, the ‘food or fuel’ issue is nullified.”

The iLembe District Municipality on the KwaZulu-Natal North Coast has collaborated with Tesfay on a moringa plantation project which plans to enlist small-scale emerging farmers to grow the trees and harvest the pods for biodiesel processing.

Tesfay hopes to raise awareness of the nutritional value of the tree in the fight against malnutrition in the area.

Source: TimesLive

There is an abundance of information on Moringa oleifera on the web. Some useful sites: Moringa oleifera, the word Moringa probably came from dravidian language Tamil and commonly referred to as “Shojne” in Bengali, “Munagakaya” in Telugu,

Discovery Channel uncovers Moringa

Unique, extraordinary and multipurpose. These are some of the terms used to describe the remarkable nutritional properties of the Moringa Oleifera tree.

This video takes a closer look at the outstanding nutritional properties naturally found within the Moringa plant, featuring expert comments.