maandag 24 november 2008

'Malunggay Congress' to promote vegies as food, energy source

11/24/2008 | 10:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The first Malunggay Congress to be held this week as the country celebrates the 4th National Biotechnology Week will discuss the value of the vegetable as food and as a renewable energy source.

Malunggay, dubbed by Department of Agriculture-Biotechnology Program Office (DA-BPO) director Alicia Ilaga as the "power gulay," is also known as a key element in the campaign to reduce malnution.

As the central focus of the Congress, to be held at the Institute of Small Scale Industries (ISSI) at UP Diliman starting Monday, malunggay is seen as appropriate food for more than 20 million Filipinos who consider themselves poor and hungry.

Ilaga said malunggay is needed by lactating mothers because it has a high calcium content, which is necessary to produce milk.

She said malunggay has seven times the Vitamin C in orange, four times the calcium in milk, four times the Vitamin A in carrots, three times the potassium in banana, and three fourth the iron in pechay.

Malunggay is a host to many nutrients that are beneficial to the body, Ilaga stressed.

Studies show that every 100 grams of pod contain 2.5 grams protein, 0.1 grams fat, 8.5 grams carbohydrate, 4.8 grams fiber, and minerals such as Calcium (30 milligrams), Phosphorus (110 milligrams), and Iron (5.3 milligrams).

Leaves (per 100 grams) contain 7.5 grams water, 6.7 grams protein, 1.7 g fat, 14.3 g total carbohydrate, 0.9 grams fiber, 2.3 grams ash, and minerals, Calcium (440 mg), Phosphorus (70 mg), Iron (7 mg), Copper (110 ?g) and Vitamin A, and Vitamin C. The leaves also contain different amino acids and estrogenic substances, including the anti-tumor compound, sitosterol, and a pectinesterase.

Water, protein and fiber can be found in the seed kernel (70.74% of seed). The seed oil contains 9.3% palmitic, 7.4% stearic, 8.6% behenic, and 65.7% oleic acids among the fatty acids.

Malunggay contains the phytochemical niaziminin, which is found to have molecular components that can prevent the development of cancer cells, a study undertaken in 1992 discovered, and it is correlated with inhibitory ability against superoxide generation.

The first naturally-occuring thiocarbamates, novel hypotensive agents such as niazinin A, niazinin B, niazimicin and niaziminin A and B were isolated from malunggay, Ilaga stressed.

Malunggay is being used as a too to combat malnutrition among infants and mothers alike. Three international non-government organizations—Trees for Life, Church World Service and Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization—have preached malunggay as the “natural food for the tropics."

Leaves can be eaten fresh, cooked, or stored as dried powder for many months without refrigeration, and reportedly without loss of nutritional value. Moringa is especially promising as a food source in the tropics because the tree is in full leaf at the end of the dry season when other foods are typically scarce, Ilaga said.

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