Bioactive components from Moringa oleifera seeds: production, functionalities and applications - a critical review

Crit Rev Biotechnol. 2022 Mar;42(2):271-293. doi: 10.1080/07388551.2021.1931804. Epub 2021 Jun 20.


A readily distinguishable and indigenous member of the plant kingdom in the Indian subcontinent is the 'drumstick tree', i.e. Moringa oleifera Lam. In addition to India, this drought-tolerant and rapidly evolving tree is currently extensively disseminated across the globe, including subtropical and tropical areas. The plant boasts a high nutritional, nutraceutical and therapeutic profile, mainly attributing to its significant repertoire of the biologically active components in different parts: protein, flavonoids, saponins, phenolic acids, tannin, isothiocyanate, lipids, minerals, vitamins, amongst others. M. oleifera seeds have been shown to elicit a myriad of pharmacological potential and health benefits, including: antimicrobial, anticancer, antidiabetic, antioxidant, antihypertensive, anti-inflammatory and cardioprotective properties. Additionally, the seed cakes obtained from post-extraction process are utilized for: coagulation, flocculation and sedimentation purposes, benefiting effluent management and the purification of water, mainly because of their capability in eliminating microbes and organic matter. Despite the extraordinary focus on other parts of the plant, especially the foliage, the beneficial aspects of the seeds have not been sufficiently highlighted. The health benefits of bioactive components in the seeds are promising and demonstrate enough potential to facilitate the development of functional foods. In this review, we present a critical account of the types, characteristics, production and isolation of bioactive components from M. oleifera seeds. Furthermore, we appraise the: pharmacological activities, cosmetic, biodiesel, lubricative, modern farming, nutritive and wastewater treatment applications of these functional ingredients. We infer that there is a need for further human/clinical studies and evaluation, despite their health benefits. Additionally, the safety issues need to be adequately clarified and assessed, in order to establish a conventional therapeutic profile.

Keywords: Moringa oleifera; bioactive compounds; bioprocessing; functional foods; therapeutic effects.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Flavonoids
  • Moringa oleifera* / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts* / pharmacology
  • Seeds / chemistry*


  • Antioxidants
  • Flavonoids
  • Plant Extracts