The Moringa oleifera, locally known as malunggay is a perennial vegetable tree proven to be highly nutritious with leaves, young pods and young inflorescence as the main edible parts. It is known to provide significant amounts of minerals, proteins, vitamins, beta-carotene, amino acids and an array of medicinal benefits. The gram-for-gram nutritional data comparison between fresh and dried Moringa obtained from the Trees for Life Journal (www.TFLJournal.org) revealed that fresh Moringa leaves is seven times the vitamin C of orange, 4 times the vitamin A of carrots, 4 times the calcium of milk. Meanwhile, the dried leaves are 0.5 vitamin C of orange, 10 times the vitamin A of carrots and 17 times the calcium of milk.

Given the nutritional value and health benefits of the Moringa, researchers from the Southern Luzon State University – Judge Guillermo Eleazar (SLSU-JGE) based in Tagkawayan, Quezon, thought of expanding the uses of malunggay by turning it into a powder, thus use it as food ingredient in many dishes. This was then the topic of a seminar titled “Malunggay Powder Processing” held at the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) on 30 October 2013 at the bureau. Professor Dorris Gatus of SLSU-JGE served as the resource speaker. Gatus is also the leader of the BAR-funded initiative titled, “Dilis-Fortified Malunggay Powder Project” from which the results were primarily discussed during the seminar.

Gatus presentation focused on the health benefits and advantages of Moringa in its fresh and processed forms. This undertaking enabled to increase the levels of food consumption and the awareness of highly nutritious foods when fortified with Moringa.

According to Gatus, the project is seen as a viable strategy in addressing the inadequacy of quality food intake among children especially the poorest of the poor. An ingredient for food preparation combined with Moringa and dilis (Stolephorus indicus) is a worthy endeavor to ensure the nutritional balance diet not only among the people of Tagkawayan, Quezon, but the entire Southern Tagalog Region.

She reported that the dilis flour fortified with malunggay powder, which has net weight of 100 grams, has the following nutritional value: carbohydrates (3percent), protein (5 percent), vitamin A (40 percent). vitamin C (2 percent), calcium (40 percent), and iron 10 (percent).

The World Health Organization (WHO) is also promoting M. oleifera as a cheaper health enhancer especially to families in the poverty line.

The SLSU-initiated project is in compliance to Republic Act (RA) 8976 or the Philippine Food Fortification Program, which mandates processed-food manufacturers to fortify their products with essential nutrients to meet the required recommended daily allowance (RDA) from which malunggay is most preferred.

The project funded is under the National Technology Commercialization Program (NTCP) of BAR. ####

Source: Patrick Raymund A. Lesaca, Bar Chronicle October 2013 Issue (Vol. 14 No. 10)