Drumstick tree (Moringa Oleifera) and its benefits for health

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Moringa oleifera

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Drumstick leaves and flower


"Drumstick tree" and variants thereof redirect here. This name is also used for the golden shower tree (Cassia fistulosa)
Moringa oleifera is the most widely cultivated species of the genus Moringa, which is the only genus in the family Moringaceae. English common names include: moringa,[2] drumstick tree[2] (from the appearance of the long, slender, triangular seed-pods), horseradish tree[2] (from the taste of the roots, which resembles horseradish), ben oil tree, orbenzoil tree[2] (from the oil which is derived from the seeds). It is a fast-growing, drought-resistant tree, native to the southern foothills of the Himalayas in northwestern India, and widely cultivated in tropical and subtropical areas where its young seed pods and leaves are used as vegetables. It can also be used for water purification and hand washing, and is sometimes used in herbal medicine.[3]

Yield and harvest

M. oleifera can be cultivated for its leaves, pods, and/or its kernels for oil extraction and water purification. The yields vary widely, depending on season, variety, fertilization, and irrigation regimen. Moringa yields best under warm, dry conditions with some supplemental fertilizer and irrigation.[9] Harvest is done manually with knives, sickles, and stabs with hooks attached.[9] Pollarding, coppicing and lopping or pruning are recommended to promote branching, increase production and facilitate harvesting.[14]

Fruit

When the plant is grown from cuttings, the first harvest can take place 6–8 months after planting. Often, the fruits are not produced in the first year, and the yield is generally low during the first few years. By year two, it produces around 300 pods, by year 3 around 400-500. A good tree can yield 1000 or more pods.[15] In India, a hectare can produce 31 tons of pods per year.[9] Under North Indian conditions, the fruits ripen during the summer. Sometimes, particularly in South India, flowers and fruit appear twice a year, so two harvests occur, in July to September and March to April.[16]

Leaves

Average yields of 6 tons/ha/year in fresh matter can be achieved. The harvest differs strongly between the rainy and dry seasons, with 1120 kg/ha per harvest and 690 kg/ha per harvest, respectively. The leaves and stems can be harvested from the young plants 60 days after seeding and then another seven times in the year. At every harvest, the plants are cut back to within 60 cm of the ground.[17] In some production systems, the leaves are harvested every 2 weeks.
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Drumstick leaves : Photo in Cambodia
The cultivation of M. oleifera can also be done intensively with irrigation and fertilization with suitable varieties.[18] Trials in Nicaragua with 1 million plants per hectare and 9 cuttings/year over 4 years gave an average fresh matter production of 580 metric tons/ha/year, equivalent to about 174 metric tons of fresh leaves.[18]

Oil

One estimate for yield of oil from kernels is 250 l/ha.[9] The oil can be used as a food supplement, as a base for cosmetics, and for hair and the skin.

Pests and diseases

The moringa tree is not affected by any serious diseases in its native or introduced ranges. In India, several insect pests are seen, including various caterpillars such as the bark-eating caterpillar, the hairy caterpillar or the green leaf caterpillar. The budworms Noctuidae are known to cause serious defoliation. Damaging agents can also be aphids, stem borers, and fruit flies. In some regions, termites can also cause minor damage. If termites are numerous in soils, insects management costs are not bearable.[6]
The moringa tree is a host to Leveillula taurica, a powdery mildew which causes damage in papaya crops in south India. Cultivation management should therefore be checked.

Nutrients

Moringa oleifera leaf, raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy64 kcal (270 kJ)
Carbohydrates
8.28 g
Dietary fiber2.0 g
Fat
1.40 g
Protein
9.40 g
Vitamins
Vitamin A equiv.
(47%)
378 μg
Thiamine (B1)
(22%)
0.257 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
(55%)
0.660 mg
Niacin (B3)
(15%)
2.220 mg
Pantothenic acid (B5)
(3%)
0.125 mg
Vitamin B6
(92%)
1.200 mg
Folate (B9)
(10%)
40 μg
Vitamin C
(62%)
51.7 mg
Minerals
Calcium
(19%)
185 mg
Iron
(31%)
4.00 mg
Magnesium
(41%)
147 mg
Manganese
(17%)
0.36 mg
Phosphorus
(16%)
112 mg
Potassium
(7%)
337 mg
Sodium
(1%)
9 mg
Zinc
(6%)
0.6 mg
Other constituents
Water78.66 g
  • Units
  • μg = micrograms • mg = milligrams
  • IU = International units
Percentages are roughly approximated usingUS recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
M. oleifera pods, raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy37 kcal (150 kJ)
Carbohydrates
8.53 g
Dietary fiber3.2 g
Fat
0.20 g
Protein
2.10 g
Vitamins
Vitamin A equiv.
(1%)
4 μg
Thiamine (B1)
(5%)
0.0530 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
(6%)
0.074 mg
Niacin (B3)
(4%)
0.620 mg
Pantothenic acid (B5)
(16%)
0.794 mg
Vitamin B6
(9%)
0.120 mg
Folate (B9)
(11%)
44 μg
Vitamin C
(170%)
141.0 mg
Minerals
Calcium
(3%)
30 mg
Iron
(3%)
0.36 mg
Magnesium
(13%)
45 mg
Manganese
(12%)
0.259 mg
Phosphorus
(7%)
50 mg
Potassium
(10%)
461 mg
Sodium
(3%)
42 mg
Zinc
(5%)
0.45 mg
Other constituents
Water88.20 g
  • Units
  • μg = micrograms • mg = milligrams
  • IU = International units
Percentages are roughly approximated usingUS recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
Many parts of moringa are edible,[3] with regional uses varying widely:
  • Immature seed pods, called "drumsticks"
  • Leaves
  • Mature seeds
  • Oil pressed from seeds
  • Flowers

Leaves

Nutritional content of 100 g of fresh M. oleifera leaves (about 5 cups) is shown in the table (right; USDA data), while other studies of nutrient values are available.[19][page needed]
The leaves are the most nutritious part of the plant, being a significant source of B vitamins, vitamin C, provitamin A asbeta-carotene, vitamin K, manganese, and protein, among other essential nutrients.[3][20][21] When compared with common foods particularly high in certain nutrients per 100 g fresh weight, cooked moringa leaves are considerable sources of these same nutrients. Some of the calcium in moringa leaves is bound as crystals of calcium oxalate[22]though at levels 1/25th to 1/45th of that found in spinach, which is a negligible amount.
The leaves are cooked and used like spinach and are commonly dried and crushed into a powder used in soups andsauces.

Drumsticks

Drumstick vegetable pods at a market
The immature seed pods, called "drumsticks", are commonly consumed in South Asia. They are prepared by parboiling, and cooked in a curry until soft.[23] The seed pods/fruits, even when cooked by boiling, remain particularly high in vitamin C[24] (which may be degraded variably by cooking) and are also a good source of dietary fiber,potassium, magnesium, and manganese.[24]

Seeds

The seeds, sometimes removed from more mature pods and eaten like peas or roasted like nuts, contain high levels of vitamin C and moderate amounts of B vitamins and dietary minerals.

Seed oil

Mature seeds yield 38–40% edible oil called ben oil from its high concentration of behenic acid. The refined oil is clear and odorless, and resists rancidity. The seed cake remaining after oil extraction may be used as a fertilizer or as aflocculent to purify water.[25] Moringa seed oil also has potential for use as a biofuel.[26]

Roots

The roots are shredded and used as a condiment with sharp flavor qualities deriving from significant content ofpolyphenols.[27]

Malnutrition relief

Moringa trees have been used to combat malnutrition, especially among infants and nursing mothers.[3][28] Since moringa thrives in arid and semiarid environments, it may provide a versatile, nutritious food source throughout the year.[29] Moringa leaves have been proposed as an iron-rich food source (31% Daily Value per 100 g consumed, table) to combat iron deficiency.[30] However, further study is needed to test practical applications of using this dietary source and its iron bioavailability.
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Drumstick, ម្រុំ , Photo: in Cambodia

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