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Moringa (Moringa oleifera Lam. moringaceae) is a highly valued plant that is mostly cultivated in the tropics and subtropics. It is used for food, medication and industrial purposes. The objective of the study was to assess the nutritional value of Moringa leaves of the South African ecotype. Proximate and Van Soest methods were used to determine the nutritional value of Moringa leaves. The dried leaves had crude protein levels of 30.3% and 19 amino acids. The dried leaves had the following mineral contents: calcium (3.65%), phoshorus (0.3%), magnesium (0.5%), potassium (1.5%), sodium (0.164%), sulphur (0.63%), zinc (13.03 mg/kg), copper (8.25%), manganese (86.8 mg/kg), iron (490 mg/kg) and selenium (363 mg/kg). 17 fatty acids were observed with α-Linolenic acid (44.57%) having the highest value followed by heneicosanoic (14.41%), g-linolenic (0.20%) palmiteic (0.17%) and capric acid (0.07%). Vitamin E had the highest concentration of 77 mg/100 g than beta-carotene, which had 18.5 mg/100 g in the dried leaves. The fiber content was neutral detergent fibre (NDF) (11.4%), acid detergent fibre (ADF) (8.49%), acid detergent lignin (ADL) (1.8%) and (acid detergent cellulose (ADC) (4.01%). The condensed tannins had a value of 3.2%, while total polyphenols were 2.02%. The values of amino acids, fatty acids, minerals and vitamin profiles reflect a desirable nutritional balance.
Key words: South African, supplemental food, nutritional value, Moringa oleifera.