With dozens of names in different, malunggay remains the same the richest source of food nutrients. One should not undervalues this lonely vegetable. Although inexpensive, it is nutritious. Providing a cheap source of vitamins, malunggay is within the purchasing power of low income families.
Analyzed for its nutritive value, malunggay leave per 100 grams, edible portion gives: 75 calories of food energy (higher than ampalaya, squash, tomatoes and carrots 1, 5.9 grams protein (higher than cauliflower, lettuce and mustard); 12.8 grams carbohydrates (higher than okra, papaya and watermelon); 353 mg calcium (much higher than gabi leaf, mongo, squash tops and sweet potato tops). Among vegetables analyzed, malunggay was found to have the highest niacin contents (3.7 mg) followed by banana flower. For thiamin, phosphorous and ascorbic acid, malunggay has still the highest content.
One third cup of properly cooked fresh leaves would give fair amount of calcium and vitamins A, B and C. Two hundred grams of malunggay leaves would yield a nutritive value approximately equivalent to four eggs and two glasses of milk. Not commonly found in other vegetables, an iron compound in malunggay helps in preventing shortage of red blood cells (hemoglobin). This iron deficiency is known as anaemia. Iron food element in malunggay also builds and maintain blood supply.
Being an excellent source of calcium, it helps in keeping up healthy bones and teeth. Fresh malunggay leaves are also rich in vitamin A (thiamin, I.U. 12,450) which is higher than red and green mongo, radish and eggplant. Malunggay as a source of vitamin A would therefore keep the body healthy by preventing xeropthalmia (disease of the eye characterized by dry and lusterless eyeballs); stabilizing the body by increased resistance to disease and preventing poor night vision. (Vitamin A is stored in the liver).
Niacin (nicotinic acid) is a vitamin of the B complex. When in proper amount, it would help stimulate growth and appetite, prevent roughening of the skin on face, neck and hands and prevent beriberi and anaemia. Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is fairly high in fresh malunggay leaves (232 mg per 100 grams edible portion). The amount is higher than that in ampalaya leaves. It is essential for the prevention of skin hemorrhages (especially in the mouth and gums), anaemia and skin eruptions. Ascorbic acid would hasten tissue healing and help resist body infection.
Methionine, an amino acid found in protein-leaves, young pods and seeds of malunggay, is used in the treatment of certain liver diseases.