Moringa Oleifera seeds are sources of proteins, lipids, fats, soluble vitamins, and antioxidants. The proteins are particularly poor in lysine, sulfur amino acids, and tryptophan. 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. The principal component of the oil is oleic acid, and the oil is perfectly tested in frying and seasoning. The seed is bitter and astringent; the untreated and soaked seeds are equally toxic when consumed. A process for debittering the seeds completely and used in some food preparation has been documented. Some research addressed the functional properties of Moringa Oleifera seed flour with some technological applications in biscuits and infant flour formulations. However, the bitterness and toxicity of the flour are still a limit for their utilization. Furthermore, the oil is not only free of toxicant, but it also exhibited high biological value as compared to commercial 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 a flocculent to purify water. Moringa seed oil also has potential for use as a biofuel. Using the cold press method (under 132 degrees F) only yields 14% which is about the same amount of yield in a raw press using no heat whatsoever. The oil is characterized by an unusually long shelf life and a mild, but pleasant taste. The name of the oil is derived from the presence of behenic acid.
Moringa seed oil gathered good thermal, oxidative, and frying stabilities. Studies were conducted to find out the effect of extraction method and temperature, and storage time on the physicochemical properties of Moringa oil. The result shows that Moringa oil has higher stability when compared to groundnut oil. It is also observed that Moringa oil is less likely to hydrolysis than groundnut oil. In this respect, cold‐pressed oils from Moringa Oleifera seeds are better than the raw commercial oils and refined groundnut oils. An experiment conducted by Khattab and Shakak in 2012 showed that during frying of potato chips, M. oleifera oil was more stable to oxidation (based on peroxide, free fatty acid, density, viscosity, and refraction index) compared to groundnut oil. In addition, the acceptability (taste, color, odor, texture, and general acceptability) of potato chips analyzed by a panel of seventeen students was higher as compared to those made from groundnut oil, but lower than that obtained from the mixture of Moringa and groundnut oils. Based on the current results, Moringa Oleifera seed oil showed enough promises to be regarded as a more stable and healthy oil in cooking and frying.
With the global shortage of food grains and ever increasing human population, Moringa Oleifera will certainly offer good alternative to food shortage. In particular, it easily grows under dry climates of the sub‐Saharan areas which generally future food crisis. For Moringa Oleifera seeds to play that role, more research in the effect of treatments on the functionality and the nutritional and physicochemical properties of the oil and defatted seed flour should be addressed. For instance, the combined effect of roasting, germination, and cooking on the in vivo nutritional quality and toxicity of the flour and fat could be tested.
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