Drumstick tree (Moringa oleifera) leaves as a source of dietary selenium, sulphur and pro-vitamin A
It is highly unlikely that there is another food plant equal or superior to drumstick in terms of its combination of nutritive, medicinal and disease preventive value, drought tolerance and ability to flourish on poor soils. This study used a genotype-environment approach to survey foliar mineral and carotenoid levels in a range of leafy vegetables from the Pacific Islands, Northern Australia and East Africa. The research showed drumstick has an exceptional ability to take up and accumulate in leaves the minerals selenium and sulphur, even when grown on soils where these minerals are poorly available to other plants. Moringa leaves contain particularly high levels of the important pro-vitamin A carotenoid, beta-carotene. Deficiencies of selenium, sulphur amino acids and vitamin A are common, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, and this has important health and medical implications. As well as improving human and livestock nutrition and reducing disease risk, moringa foliage can provide green manure for other food crops. It is recommended that drumstick be planted and become part of the staple diet globally throughout the tropics and sub-tropics. Palatability can be improved by light steaming of leaves or adding to stews/curries/soup. Ideally, the leaves should be cooked with a small amount of oil (e.g., coconut, palm, peanut) to increase beta-carotene bioavailability and bioconversion to vitamin A.
Lyons, G., Gondwe, C., Banuelos, G., Mendoza, C., Haug, A., Christophersen, O. and Ebert, A.W. (2017). Drumstick tree (Moringa oleifera) leaves as a source of dietary selenium, sulphur and pro-vitamin A. Acta Hortic. 1158, 287-292
drumstick tree, nutrition, selenium, sulphur, beta-carotene, pro-vitamin A, bioavailability