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Physicochemical characterization and antioxidant activity of decolorized Moringa oleifera Lam leaf flour
© The Author(s) 2017
Received: 19 April 2017
Accepted: 19 October 2017
Published: 31 October 2017
Maringa oleifera leaves are rich in antioxidant substances; however, when lyophilized leaves were used in flour form in meat products, they presented no antioxidant effect and even accelerated the oxidation process of the product. Thus, the objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of chlorophyll extraction on the physicochemical composition and antioxidant activity of Moringa leaves.
Moringa leaves were dried and ground in order to obtain uniform flour. A treatment using chlorophyll extraction (decolorized) was tested versus a control treatment (non-decolorized) for proximate composition, instrumental color, and antioxidant activity using ANOVA followed by Tukey’s test.
Higher crude fiber, ash, and protein contents were observed for decolorized flour (19.41 and 38.13%, 11.87 and 14.02%, and 28.81 and 31.33%, respectively) when compared to those for the control. Chlorophyll extraction significantly affected (p < 0.05) the instrumental color of the leaves flour. The half maximal effective concentration (EC50) of both decolorized and control flour was 3.74 and 4.30 mg/L, respectively. The equivalent of antioxidant per gram of non-decolorized leaves was higher than that observed for the decolorized leaves (0.36 and 0.32 g/g DPPH, respectively). The antioxidant activity (AA%) of the extract from non-decolorized leaves was higher in the concentrations of 5 and 2.5 mg/0.1 mL, while the decolorized leaves was higher in the extract concentration 5 and 2 mg/0.1 ml.
The decolorization process affected the chemical composition and color of Moringa oleifera leaves flours however did not improve its antioxidant activity.
Considering the increasing demand for healthy foods with added technological value, the insertion of plant products containing bioactive compounds has been a promising alternative for the food industry and Moringa is a potential plant still underutilized.
Moringa (Moringa oleifera Lam)is a perennial species, belonging to the Moringaceae family from the Indian northwest. It is recognized for its food and nutritional value, with forage, medicinal, and seasoning properties, being used in culinary, fuel, and cosmetics industries and in water treatment for human consumption .
Maringa leaves are rich in antioxidant substances such as polyphenols, quercetin, and kaempferol [2, 3]. However, when lyophilized leaves were used in flour form in beef burgers, they presented no antioxidant effect and even accelerated the oxidation process of the product . This behavior could be related to two factors: the photo-oxidation mechanism of fats promoted by UV radiation in the presence of photosensitizers, such as chlorophyll, found on Moringa leaves  and the presence ofβ-carotene that can act as a pro-oxidant agent . In other words, the presence of pigments could affect the antioxidant activity of Moringa leaves flour. This study aimed to evaluate the impact of the decolorization on the antioxidant activity of Moringa leaves flour.
The experiment was conducted in the Food Analysis Laboratory at Federal Institute of Education, Science and Technology Campus Triangulo Mineiro Uberaba, MG, using Moringa oleifera Lam leaves collected from trees planted in the fruit sector.
Preparation of leaves flour
Decolorization of leaves flour
Chlorophyll extraction was performed in triplicate as described by Sinnecker et al. , using 5 g of sample. The sample was homogenized with 30 mL of 95% ethanol and filtered under vacuum. The residue was immersed in 95% ethanol two more times to ensure complete decolorization and dried at 25 °C. This powder was named as decolorized flour.
The flours were characterized for moisture, ash, crude protein, total lipids, crude fiber, total carbohydrates, energy value, and color, in triplicate.
Determination of moisture
The moisture content was determined by drying method at 105 °C until constant weight, according to A.O.A.C. method 31.1.02. .
Determination of crude fiber
Crude fiber content was determined by digestion of the samples, according to the A.O.A.C. method .
Determination of ash
Ash content was determined by incineration in a muffle at 550 °C according to the A.O.A.C method 31.1.04 .
Determination of protein
Total nitrogen was determined by the Kjeldahl method, according to A.O.A.C. method 31.1.08 , and the conversion factor of 6.25 was used to calculate the protein content.
Determination of lipids
Total lipids were determined by the Soxhlet extraction method using ethyl ether, according to the A.O.A.C. method 31.4.08 .
Determination of carbohydrates
Carbohydrates were calculated by the difference between 100 and the sum of moisture, ash, lipids, fiber, and protein contents, according to TACO .
Energy value was calculated through the Atwater conversion factors: 4 kcal/g (protein), 4 kcal/g (carbohydrates), and 9 kcal/g (lipids), as reported by Osborne &Voogt .
The leaves’ color was determined by MINOLTA Chroma Meter model CR-3000, L * a * b * CIELAB. The color parameters measured against the white plate were L = lightness (0 = black to 100 = white); a* = range from green to red (− 120 to + 120) = b* ranging from blue to yellow (− 120 to + 120).
Antioxidant activity by the DPPH scavenging activity
DPPH scavenging activity was determined according to the methodology described by Brand-Williams and Berset . DPPH (1,1-diphenyl-2-picrilidrazil) is a stable free radical, which accepts an electron or a hydrogen radical to become a stable diamagnetic molecule, being reduced in the presence of antioxidants. The antioxidant activity was calculated in percentage, as follows: absorbance values at DPPH concentrations of 5, 2.5, 1.7, 1.27, and 1 mg/0.1 mL within 42 min. To evaluate the antioxidant activity, the EEP (ethanolic extracts of two samples—control and ethanol—with the stable DPPH radical in an ethanol solution) was used. The DPPH radical has a characteristic absorption at 515 nm, which disappears after reduction by hydrogen pulled from an antioxidant compound.
where Aa = absorbance of the sample; Ab = absorbance of the blank; Ac = absorbance of control. Thus, the blank of different extracts concentrations was obtained for each sample. The blank of the sample was determined using 3.3 mL ethanol and 0.5 mL sample in each concentration, and the absorbance was read at 515 nm after 57 min of reaction. A tube containing 3 mL absolute ethanol, 0.5 mL of 70% ethanol, and 0.3 mL of 0.5 mM DPPH was used as a negative control.
Chemical determinations were submitted to a completely randomized design with two treatments and three repetitions, for a total of six plots. The effects of treatments were subjected to analysis of variance (ANOVA), and the means were analyzed by Tukey’s test (p ≤ 0.05). The results were statistically analyzed using the software SISVAR v.5.1 .
Chemical composition and energy value of Moringa oleifera Lam flours in 100 g of dry matter
6.60a ± 0.35
4.28b ± 0.25
11.87c ± 0.04
14.02a ± 0.01
8.97a ± 0.18
2.83b ± 0.05
24.14c ± 0.54
31.33a ± 0.13
19.41c ± 0.32
38.13a ± 0.09
28.81a ± 1.11
9.08c ± 0.09
295.23a ± 1.74
187.41c ± 0.31
Color parameters of Moringa oleifera Lam flours
56.70b ± 0.63
− 10.55a ± 0.35
26.90a ± 1.11
73.64a ± 1.84
− 1.04b ± 0.06
19.1b ± 0.66
EC values (mg/L) and equivalent in g leaves/g DPPH of Moringa oleifera Lam flours
EC 50 (mg/L)
g Flour/g DPPH
4.30 ± 0.56
0.36 ± 0.03
3.74 ± 0.88
0.32 ± 0.02
Antioxidant activity (%) of Moringa oleifera Lam leaf extract at time 0, 7, 14, 21, 28, 35, and 42 min for the control sample
Concentration 5 mg
Concentration 2.5 mg
Concentration 1.7 mg
Concentration 1.27 mg
Concentration 1 mg
38.08 ± 1.02
37.92 ± 0.78
26.41 ± 0.30
19.44 ± .036
15.39 ± 0.24
64.39 ± 1.06
62.27 ± 0.56
44.87 ± 0.13
34.95 ± 0.82
28.78 ± 1.22
71.82 ± 2.18
70.03 ± 0.70
49.83 ± 0.70
39.25 ± 1.01
31.75 ± 0.14
77.48 ± 1.52
76.01 ± 1.09
53.34 ± 0.66
42.08 ± 0.72
34.09 ± 0.80
80.42 ± 0.88
79.11 ± .082
55.30 ± 1,70
43.39 ± 1.61
34.74 ± 1.06
82.87 ± 1.09
81.56 ± 1.44
56.77 ± 1.33
44.69 ± 1.41
35.39 ± 1,01
85.15 ± 1.72
84.01 ± 1.39
58.40 ± 1.60
45.51 ± 1.49
36.05 ± 1.55
Antioxidant activity (%) of Moringa oleifera Lam leaf extract at time 0, 7, 14, 21, 28, 35, and 42 min for the sample decolorized with ethanol
CConcentration 5 mg
Concentration 2.5 mg
Concentration 1.7 mg
Concentration 1.27 mg
Concentration 1 mg
43.63 ± 1.07
38.37 ± 1.27
24.84 ± 2.16
18.63 ± 1.37
21.49 ± 1.11
63.62 ± 0.98
56.53 ± 1.04
36.37 ± 1.63
30.07 ± 2.28
32.28 ± 1.12
75.23 ± 0.70
66.51 ± 2.49
41.74 ± 1,26
36.13 ± 1.87
36.91 ± 0.60
80.89 ± 1.20
71.18 ± 1.02
44.22 ± 0.88
38.98 ± 1.02
39.13 ± 0.67
84.60 ± 1.64
75.15 ± 1.85
46.03 ± 0.97
41.31 ± 1.42
40.54 ± 1.46
86.87 ± 1.13
76.92 ± 1.18
47.20 ± 1.80
43.89 ± 1.61
41.17 ± 2.03
89.07 ± 1.03
79.64 ± 0.36
48.20 ± 0.81
47.60 ± 0.40
42.20 ± 1.80
According to Sgarbieri , the extraction rates are dependent on temperature, solvent type, and pH, due to the influence of these factors on protein solubility. In addition, leaf protein extraction depends largely on the degree of cell disintegration to release proteins from different cellular compartments. The cell disruption occurs in three ways: impact, cutting, and application of differential pressure or by a combination of these principles depending on the equipment used for this purpose . Ethanol has high diffusion capability through semi-permeable membranes, once it is very low in hygroscopicity and water miscibility, and recognized for its effectiveness as protein carrier , which provides flexibility in the process.
The fiber contents of the control (19.41%) and decolorized flour (38.13%) were greater than the values of 11.4% obtained by Moyo et al.  and 7.48% obtained by Brito; Teixeira . Carbohydrates of decolorized flour with ethanol (9.08%) were similar to those reported by Passos et al. 2012 (12.54%). The high carbohydrates level is indicative of potentially energy plant (Moura et al. 2009).
Gopalakrishnan et al.  and Moura et al. (2009) studied the chemical composition of Moringa leaves without decolorization and found 75 and 77.30% moisture, 2.3 and 2.0% ash, 1.7 and 6.0% lipids, 6.7 and 6.4% protein, and 13.4 and 8.3% carbohydrates, respectively. It is worth noting that the values obtained by Gopalakrishnan et al.  were similar to those observed in this study for the decolorized sample.
The high L*value indicates that both flours have clear color. The negative a* values showed higher tendency to greenish and the control flour has more intense green color than the decolorized flour, while b* values suggest more prone to yellowing.
Lima  reported that the antioxidant potential of Moringa leaves may be due to its low EC50 values. Thus, decolorized flour had similar antioxidant activity to the control flour (Table 3).When these results were compared to other leaves and fruits studied by Vieira et al.  such as ora-pro-nobis (3.22 mg/mL), guabiroba (3.81 mg/mL), and acerola fruit (9.32 mg/mL), it was observed to lower EC50 and increase the antioxidant potential of Moringa leaves flours.
The antioxidant activities results suggest that decolorized Moringa oleifera flour has a similar antioxidant potential when compared to the control flour.
The decolorization process affected chemical composition and color of Moringa oleifera leaves flours however did not improve its antioxidant activity.
The design of this study, as well as the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data, and the writing of this manuscript were funded by Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de Minas Gerais (FAPEMIG) through the scholarship granted to the student André da Silva Alves.
Availability of data and materials
Data sharing not applicable to this article as no datasets were generated or analyzed during the current study.
ASA contributed in the experimental analysis and collecting data. EMBT as the supervisor of the research contributed in all the process from the data collection to the writing step. GCO contributed in the decolorization process of the samples. LAP contributed in the experimental design planning, data interpreting, and English writing and reviewing. CCO and LLC contributed in all the laboratory analysis collecting data. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
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