Microencapsulation of Moringa Oleifera extracts and their application in functional foods to mitigate children malnutrition in developing countries

Acronym: MORfood
Reference: 541163254/2019
Funding: FCT, AGA KHAN
Duration: 03/01/2022 to 03/01/2025
Principal Researcher: Licínio Manuel Gando-Ferreira
Proponent Institution: PRODEQ – Associação para o Desenvolvimento da Engenharia Química/Universidade de Coimbra
Other institutions: LEPAB – Faculdade de Engenharia da Universidade do Porto, Faculdade de Farmácia da Universidade de Coimbra and LESRA – Universidade Agostinho Neto (Angola)
Funding: 229360,37 €





Project overview


The central goal of our project is to enhance the nutritional value of children's food, including yoghurts and desserts, by incorporating bioactive compounds (BACs) derived from Moringa oleifera leaves. 

Among the chemical components found in various parts of moringa, polyphenols, particularly phenolic acids and flavonoids, hold a crucial role as antioxidants. Additionally, in our pursuit to combat malnutrition, we are focusing on other essential BACs previously identified in Moringa oleifera, including amino acids, vitamin C and vital mineral salts, like calcium and potassium.

Our project unfolds through the following key objectives:

  1. Advancing our understanding of the key bioactive compounds within extracts from different parts of Moringa oleifera, often referred to as the "miracle tree."
  2. Employing environmentally friendly and sustainable extraction and separation techniques to achieve selective extraction via membrane separation.
  3. Extending the shelf life of extracts using microencapsulation to prevent BAC degradation.
  4. Incorporating microcapsules containing bioactive compounds into widely consumed children's food.
  5. Evaluating the health impacts of these new functional foods to ensure food security.

To extract the target BACs, we will primarily use Moringa leaves collected from two different locations in Luanda (Angola), following a suitable sampling method that considers factors such as plant age, soil characteristics, and climate. Chemical characterization of these samples, focusing on the compounds, will be carried out using diverse analytical techniques based on colorimetry and chromatography.

Legend: Moringa plant in garden
Moringa plant in garden


To attain extracts rich in the desired BACs, we will conduct experimental tests that combine solvent extraction with a filtration process using nanofiltration membranes. Microencapsulation techniques will be applied to safeguard the stability of the extracted compounds. 

Moringa extracts



Our research also includes investigations into encapsulation efficiency, controlled release of BACs, and fortification of selected food products for school children, alongside sensory acceptability tests.


Moringa possible uses.


Yoghurt –
Pasta – 
Chocolate mousse – Submitted data



Rua Sílvio Lima, Pólo II
3030 – 790 Coimbra

Licínio Manuel Gando-Ferreira
Hermínio Sousa
Rosa M. Quinta-Ferreira
Mara M. Braga
Olivia J. S. Gomes


Rua Dr. Roberto Frias
4200 – 465 Porto

Lúcia Maria Santos
Maria Arminda Alves
Sandra Gomes


Pólo das Ciências da Saúde, Azinhaga de Santa Comba
3000 – 548 Coimbra

João José Sousa
Carla Vitorino


Avenida Ho Chi Min
Edifício Centro Nacional de Investigação Cientifíca (CNIC)
R/C esquerdo, Avenida Ho Chi Min, 201

Anabela Alexandre Leitão
Rosalina Serrão
Alberto Chiculo Cápia
Arão Caluiz Chipate
Timóteo Lisboa Francisco

News and Events


1 – Dissemination of project next to public general
2 – Participation in national and international events
3 – Sensory analysis of fortified chocolate mousse


1-Dissemination of project next to public general



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2-Participation in national and international events

International Conference on Water, Energy, Food and Sustainability (ICoWEFS 2023): Oral presentation given by fellow Olívia Gomes at the ICoWEFS conference, in Leiria (Portugal), with a paper entitled “Extraction of Moringa oleifera leaves to obtain antioxidants and vitamins”.



European Researchers' Night 2023: Divulgation of the objectives of the MorFood project carried out by scholarship holder Olívia Gomes at the European Researchers' Night, in Coimbra (Portugal).






3-Sensory analysis of fortified chocolate mousse



In the context of the MorFood project, a sensory analysis session was held on chocolate mousse fortified with biocompounds from Moringa oleifera leaves, in the Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Coimbra (Portugal). The work carried out by researcher Olivia Gomes aims to fortify foods with vitamins and minerals, to mitigate child malnutrition.



1 – Growth of Moringa oleifera plantations in Angola
2 – Dissemination of the results in international scientific journals



1-Growth of Moringa oleifera plantations in Angola




2-Dissemination of the results in international scientific journals


2.1 – Sandra M. Gomes, Anabela Leitão, Arminda Alves and Lúcia Santos, Incorporation of Moringa oleifera Leaf Extract in Yoghurts to Mitigate Children’s Malnutrition in Developing Countries, Molecules 2023.
2.2 – Sandra M. Gomes, Daniela Albuquerque and Lúcia Santos, Innovative Approaches for Food: Using Natural Phenolic-Rich Extracts to Produce Value-Added Fresh Pasta, Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2023.

2.3 – Olívia J. S. Gomes, Anabela Leitão, Marisa C. Gaspar, Carla Vitorino, João J. S. Sousa, Hermínio C. de Sousa, Mara E. M. Braga; Licínio M. Gando-Ferreira, Incorporation of powder and extract from Moringa oleifera leaves to increase nutritional value in a dessert, Food Chemistry, 2023. Submitted.


Contact email:


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Estatuto projecto: 

Microencapsulation of Moringa Oleifera extracts and its application in functional foods to mitigate children malnutrition in developing countries.