Moringa oleifera is a plant that has been praised for its health benefits for thousands of years. It is mostly known as moringa, horseradish tree (from the the pungent, bitter flavor of the roots), drumstick tree by the British and Malunggay in Philippines because of the long, slender, triangular seed-pods), the never die tree, tree of life, the vitamin tree and ben oil tree or benzoiltree (from the oil which is derived from the seeds). It is grown in regions of Africa, South America, and India where its young seed pods and leaves are used as vegetables, and many parts of the tree are used in traditional herbal medicine. Thus, it is a multipurpose plant (Its leaves, pods, fruits, flowers, roots and bark are beneficial in one way or the other.)
The super green leaves are typically grounded up and used in powder form, and it’s becoming an increasingly popular ingredient in bottled juices and bars. Hope you might have seen stacked in the grocery or section in supermarkets. The powder smells like a mild, peppery version of green tea. When added to water, the light powder dissolves easily, providing a distinctly “green” flavor that is bitter and slightly sweet. It can also be used for water purification and hand washing (Surprised right?).
Moringa has seven times the amount of vitamin C in oranges, four times as much calcium and double the amount of protein in milk, four times the vitamin A in carrots, three times the potassium in bananas and three times the iron in spinach! It is indeed a superfood. Here are 10 surprising benefits of this superfood.
It Fights Inflammation
Moringa reduces inflammation by suppressing inflammatory enzymes (1) in the body. It has significant levels of antioxidants, essential amino acids, carotenoids, and anti-bacterial compounds, which work similarly to most anti-inflammatory drug. Moringa leaf concentrate can significantly lower inflammation in the cells (2).
Helps Prevent Cancer
In fact, a study published in the journal Phytochemistry found that moringa also contains substances called isothiocyanates (3)which have been shown to potentially boost human resistance to cancer (4) (Yeah.)
Protects the Liver
Moringa is beneficial to the liver. Its leaves and flowers contain high concentrations of polyphenols that protect the liver against oxidation, toxicity, and damage. The liver is responsible for blood detoxification, bile production, fructose metabolism, fat metabolism, nutrient processing. These functions can only take place with the help of liver enzymes, hence it is very important they stay at normal levels. Moringa helps restore normal glutathione levels in the body (7) and prevents hepatic lipid peroxidation, due to the phytochemical composition of catechin, epicatechin and vitamin c in the superfood.
Stabilizes Blood Sugar Levels
Consistently high blood glucose levels raise the risk of diabetes. Moringa leaf helps reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. Moringa powder has been proven to be excellent at reducing lipid and glucose levels and regulating oxidative stress in diabetic patients (8, 9). It contains chlorogenic acid and isothiocyanates that help reduce the blood glucose levels, allowing cells to utilize glucose as required.
Promotes Clearer Skin
Moringa leaves also contain sulfur. This mineral is present in every single cell of the body and is the key ingredient for Collagen and keratin. Collagen is an elastic substance that gives flexibility and softness to the skin and keratin is a rigid substance which gives the skin rigidity and strength. These two substances form the majority of skin tissue and are made up of proteins constructed from sulphur.
Good For the Hair
Moringa leaves are a storehouse of nutrients and vitamins as mention earlier. It has a high content of vitamin A, thus promoting hair growth and maintenance. Optimum delivery of oxygen and nutrients from the circulatory system to the hair follicle is vital for proper hair growth. Vitamin A plays an important role in the development of healthy cells and tissues in the body and reduction of hair loss. Deficiency of vitamin A can cause thickening of scalp, dry hair and dandruff.
Treats Stomach Disorders
Moringa powder is a rich source of calcium which contributes to the normal function of the digestive enzymes. It also contains 24% fibre which can help support a healthy digestive system and treat various digestive disorders such as constipation. It is a great herbal alternative to over-the-counter antacids. Its notable content of vitamin B aids in proper digestion and converts food into energy rather than accumulating body fat. For the same reason, Moringa promotes weight management as well.
It Boosts Immunity
One of the best moringa benefits is its super immune-boosting powers. Moringa leaves are an extremely rich in iron (32.2% ) and Vitamin A(18.9%) both of which are essential for the normal function of the immune system. Maintaining a healthy immune system is essential for helping our bodies stave off infections and illnesses.
Helps Prevent Cancer
In fact, a study published in the journal Phytochemistry found that moringa also contains substances called isothiocyanates, which have been shown to potentially boost human resistance to cancer (Yeah.)
How to Harvest It
The hard part with moringa is getting it processed. The tiny leaves need to be handpicked , washed, and dried in the shade and then be pulverized as soon as possible to retain the nutrients and antioxidants. Doing it right costs more and takes more time. If you buy cheap moringa from an unknown source, you might not be getting all the power and nutrient-density you think you are.
What to Look Out for Before Buying Moringa oleifera Products
- Make sure that you buy products containing 100% Moringa oleifera.
- Make sure you do your due diligence on the manufacturer and where they source their Moringa oleifera products from.
- Make sure the Moringa oleifera tree supplement that you buy (Moringa powder, capsules), are the most fresh possible. The longer Moringa oleifera powder stays in a warehouse or the Moringa capsules in shop shelfs, the more nutrients are lost. Loss of up to 50% of vitamins can be reached after six months of storage.
- Ensure the Moringa oleifera you buy are of the highest quality, and not mixed with any additives and fillers.
Note: Excess heat destroys some of the vitamins, and all of the enzymes of Moringa leaves or Moringa powder. Never cook the fresh Moringa leaves or powder for too long! This is the rule of thumb on eating moringa leaves or powder for any dish.
How Much Moringa Leaves You Should Eat.
100 grams of fresh Moringa leaves could theoretically cover 100% of daily needs, but this is highly variable depending on storage conditions and how they are eaten, as vitamin A degrades over time and when exposed to light or heat. Similarly, 100 grams of fresh Moringa oleifera leaves could cover 100% of the vitamin C requirements, for which the recommended daily intake varies from 60 mg (young children) to 130 mg (breastfeeding women), but this vitamin degrades quickly with time and during cooking.
For optimal nutrient retention, it is advised to consume fresh Moringa leaves shortly after harvesting and to cook the Moringa leaves for a short time (a few minutes only), or even to eat them raw if they are young and tender.
How to Eat or Use Moringa Powder.
Dried moringa leaf powder can be sprinkled into smoothies, yogurts, juices, porridge, pastas and breads to increase the nutrient content of meals. It can also be added to soups and stews when cooking, but more nutrition is available when added at the end of cooking, or just before eating. Same apply for Moringa fresh leaves.
The taste of the powder is strong, so the amount that is palatable may depend upon the strength of the flavor of the soup or stew. Some flavors seem to blend well with Moringa powder (like peanut or lemon) and some don’t. Experimentation is still the best way to find out what tastes good and what doesn’t.
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…healthy foods, healthy lives.