Moringa oleifera Seeds and Oil: Characteristics and Uses for Human Health

Abstract

Moringa oleifera seeds are a promising resource for food and non-food applications, due to their content of monounsaturated fatty acids with a high monounsaturated/saturated fatty acids (MUFA/SFA) ratio, sterols and tocopherols, as well as proteins rich in sulfated amino acids.

The rapid growth of Moringa trees in subtropical and tropical areas, even under conditions of prolonged drought, makes this plant a reliable resource to enhance the nutritional status of local populations and, if rationalized cultivation practices are exploited, their economy, given that a biodiesel fuel could be produced from a source not in competition with human food crops.

Despite the relatively diffuse use of Moringa seeds and their oil in traditional medicine, no pharmacological activity study has been conducted on humans. Some encouraging evidence, however, justifies new efforts to obtain clear and definitive information on the benefits to human health arising from seed consumption.

A critical review of literature data concerning the composition of Moringa oil has set in motion a plan for future investigations. Such investigations, using the seeds and oil, will focus on cultivation conditions to improve plant production, and will study the health effects on human consumers of Moringa seeds and their oil.

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