has brought positive results after Tanzania has secured a niche market for different products that include moringa powder, moringa porridge flour and moringa aloe juice that have markets in Japan, Botswana and Kenya.
Moringa oleifera is a plant that has been praised for its health benefits for thousands of years.
It is very rich in healthy antioxidants and bioactive plant compounds.
So far, scientists have only investigated a fraction of the many reputed health benefits.
Nutraceuticals and functional foods are defined dietary foods containing a bioactive that provides a health benefit beyond basic nutrition.
Lecturer from the College of Agricultural Sciences and Fisheries Technology (CoAF) at the University of Dar es Salaam, Dr Leonard Rweyemamu told ‘The Guardian’ that the research was conducted with the support from Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) and Swedish International Development Cooperation (sida/SAREC).
“After discovered that iron deficiency is considered the most common causes of anemia and Tanzania is spending billions of shillings to fight consequences of protein-energy malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies to all of her citizens we decide to conduct a research on nutraceutical and functional Foods,” he said.
The main objective was to develop functional foods and beverages by using soyabean and moringa oleifera as inexpensive and sustainable sources of protein, vitamins and minerals for human health and provide concept formulations for new product development and existing product optimization.
Also to address health challenges affecting Tanzanians in- terms of reducing malnutrition that is very high and the risk of chronic diseases such as kidney, cancer, hypertension, malfunction, tumors, stroke and other chronic diseases.
So far the college has already made fortified food products that promote good health and introduced it to the people so that can reduce malnutrition and other chronic diseases.
Right now we have already made fortified products from moringa leaves and soyabean mix with maize and has huge market abroad because people are coming at our college to purchase the product,” he said.
“Our Research and Development (R&D) activities were focused on using knowledge of the natural wholesomeness from fruit, vegetable and grain crops, and from the sea and bee, to create products that promote good human health,” he said.
While the recent research activities have been concentrated on the development of fortified food products by using maize, moringa oleifera leaves and soyabean (Glycine max L.) as cheap sources of micronutrients.
Although moringa oleifera and soyabean are naturally packed with enormous amount of nutrients, these plants are still under-utilized or even neglected by our community.
He said after having discovered that moringa oleifera and soybean has health benefits for human consumption they decided to create fortified food products that include moringa powder, moringa porridge flour and moringa aloe juice so that people can reduce malnutrition, iron deficiency and other chronic disease.
“People keen to use these products, a research findings shows that porridge flour from moringa leaves, soyabeans and maize can provide up to about 75 per cent of iron and all vitamin A of the RDA for a child of 6 to 59 months,” he said.
While snacks obtained by extrusion of mix of soya-moringa-maize contained β-carotene that could contribute to about 27 per cent to 44 per cent of Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) of vitamin A for lactating woman, 45 per cent to 76 per cent of RDA for pregnant woman and 116 per cent to 194.4 per cent of RDA for children of 6 to 59 months.
Research also shows that soya-moringa beverage processed at low temperature of 30C to 40C contained higher amount of protein while Fortification of bread with soya-moringa flour exhibited higher protein levels and increased shelf-life.
“As college we are very glad for these products because some students in primary schools have begun to eat soya-moringa leaf porridge at school and concentration in their studies has improved and we are planning to visit in other area to create awareness to help people eat nutritional food to reduce malnutrition and other chronic disease,” he noted.
He said Tanzania is spending billions of shillings to fight consequences of protein-energy malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies to all of her citizens, including women, children, the middle-aged, and the elderly, where reduced work capacity in populations due to high rates of illness and disability, and tragic loss of human potential has become a common phenomena.
Moringa oleifera leaves has Vitamin A, Beta-carotene), B, B1, B2,B3, B5, B6, B12, C, E, K, folic acid, biotin and in terms of minerals moringa has calcium, chloride, chromium, sodium, potassium, magnesium, manganese, iron, copper, zinc, phosphorus, iodine, selenium including 8 essential amino acids that comprise isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, valine.
While soyabean (glycine max. L.) has vitamin A (beta-carotene), B, E, K and minerals that includes sodium, potassium, magnesium, manganese, iron, copper, zinc, phosphorus, iodine, selenium and 8 essential amino acids that include isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, valine.
There is a need by food companies to develop technologies for processing health and wellness products that will improve the efficacy of these products, maximize the potential benefits to consumers, and be cost-effective for the industry’s survival in a competitive market place.