All parts of this scruffy looking tree are edible; the leaves can be eaten raw, cooked like spinach or made into a powder that can be added to sauces, soups or chowders. The new leaves have a tendency to appear towards the end of the dry season when few other sources of green leafy vegetables are available. The young, green pods can be eaten whole and are comparable in taste to asparagus. The older pods can be used for their seeds, which can be prepared as peas or roasted and eaten like peanuts. The flowers which bloom around 8 months after the tree is planted, can be eaten fried and have the taste and texture of mushrooms. In Hawaii, the flowers are used to make a tea that cures colds. In addition to this, the flowers are a year- round source of nectar and can be used by beekeepers.
When the pods mature and turn brown, the seeds can be removed and pressed to extract high quality oil similar to olive oil rich in oleic acid (73%). The mature seed contains about 40% oil. The oil, which is known as Ben Oil, can be used for cooking, lubrication, in soaps, lamps and perfumes. The oil was highly valued by ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians and was used in perfumes and for skin protection, it was also used in Europe in the 19th century for the same purpose and was imported from the West Indies. The taproot of young trees can be used to make a spice resembling horseradish when vinegar and salt are added to it.
Not only is Moringa Oleifera tree extraordinary in that all parts of the tree are edible, but the most amazing aspect of the tree is its exceptional nutritional value. The leaves of Moringa tree are an excellent source of vitamin A (four times the amount in carrots), the raw leaves are rich in vitamin C (seven times the amount of oranges), and the y are also a good source of vitamin B and other minerals. The leaves are also an outstanding source of calcium (four times the amount in milk), protein (twice the amount in milk), and potassium (three times the amount in bananas). The content of Iron is very good as well and the leaves have purportedly been used for treating anemia in the Philippines. The content of Amino Acids such as methionine and cystine is also high. Carbohydrates, fats and phosphorous content are low in making this one of the finest plants food to be found.
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