Nutritional content of fresh Moringa oleifera tree leaves

Moringa oleifera tree leaves belong to the family of dark green leafy vegetables, a food group particularly rich in nutrients. In particular, the leaves are a good source of proteins, calcium, iron, ß-carotene (converted to vitamin A in the human body), vitamin C and vitamin E. In addition, Moringa oleifera leaves have a high dry matter content (around 20-25%) compared to most other plant food sources (generally around 10%). This makes it even more beneficial as a fresh vegetable since 100 grams of fresh leaves will bring twice as much nutritive material as 100 grams of most other vegetables.

Eating 100 grams fresh Moringa oleifera tree leaves provides you with as much protein as an egg, as much calcium as a big glass of milk, as much iron as a 200 grams beef steak, as much vitamin A as a carrot and as much vitamin C as an orange.

Indeed, 100 grams fresh Moringa oleifera leaves are enough to cover:

  • 30 to 100% of the daily recommended intake of calcium (30 to 50% for teenagers, 40 to 60% for adults, children and pregnant and breastfeeding women, 80 to 100% for young children below 3 years old)
  • 25 to 80% of the daily recommended intake of iron (25% for pregnant women, 40-60% for teenagers and women, 50 to 100% for men and children).

As for vitamins, the recommended daily intake for vitamin A varies from 400 μg retinol equivalents (young children) to 1,000 μg retinol equivalents (breastfeeding women).

Therefore, 100 grams of fresh Moringa oleifera tree leaves could theoretically cover 100% of daily needs, but this is highly variable depending on storage conditions and how they are eaten, as vitamin A degrades over time and when exposed to light or heat. Similarly, 100 grams of fresh Moringa oleifera leaves could cover 100% of the vitamin C requirements, for which the recommended daily intake varies from 60 mg (young children) to 130 mg (breastfeeding women), but this vitamin degrades quickly with time and during cooking.

For optimal nutrient retention, it is advised to consume fresh Moringa tree leaves shortly after harvesting and to cook the leaves for a short time (a few minutes only), or even to eat them raw if they are young and tender