The hypoglycemic effect in humans of Moringa oleifera (MO) leaf powder has, to date, been poorly investigated. We assessed the chemical composition of MO leaf powder produced at Saharawi refugee camps, its in vitro ability to inhibit α-amylase activity, and its sensory acceptability in food. We then evaluated its effect on postprandial glucose response by randomly administering, on 2 different days, a traditional meal supplemented with 20 g of MO leaf powder (MOR20), or not (control meal, CNT), to 17 Saharawi diabetics and 10 healthy subjects. Capillary glycaemia was measured immediately before the meal and then at 30 min intervals for 3 h. In the diabetic subjects the postprandial glucose response peaked earlier with MOR20 compared to CNT and with lower increments at 90, 120, and 150 min. The mean glycemic meal response with MOR20 was lower than with CNT. The healthy subjects showed no differences. Thus, MO leaf powder could be a hypoglycemic herbal drug. However, given the poor taste acceptability of the 20 g MO meal, lower doses should be evaluated. Moreover, the hypoglycemic effects of MO leaf powder should also be demonstrated by trials evaluating its long-term effects on glycaemia.
Keywords: Moringa oleifera; diabetes; humans; nutritional composition; sensory acceptability.