Protein and Micronutrient Contents of <i>Moringa oleifera</i> (Murunga) Leaves Collected from Different Localities in Sri Lanka
Keywords:Moringa oleifera, Micronutrients, Malnutrtion, Sri Lanka
Deficiency in protein and micronutrients especially iron, zinc and calcium among children and pregnant mothers has become a major health issue in Sri Lanka today. Moringa oleifera is an important multipurpose tropical tree under-utilized for its nutritional and medicinal properties. In the present study, M. oleifera leaves collected from eight districts falling within different agro-climatic localities in Sri Lanka were analyzed for their protein and some micronutrient. The collected samples were dried, milled to particle sizes of less than 125 Âµm and protein as well as mineral contents were analyzed by Kjeldhal method and microwave assisted acid digestion followed by the Flame Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer, respectively. Results revealed wide variations in the ranges of protein and micronutrients in Moringa leaves collected from the different localities, and among all the districts studied, leaves collected from Polonnaruwa contained significantly higher iron, zinc and protein contents compared to those from the other districts and calcium and magnesium were also present in considerable amounts. Therefore, Polonnaruwa district appears to offer the best environmental conditions for the intensive cultivation of moringa to obtain leaves of high nutritive value. However, moringa leaves collected from all the locations contain appreciable amounts of nutrients and could be used as a food supplement to combat protein and micronutrient malnutrition among the affected people of Sri Lanka.
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