I first stumbled upon moringa
during my travels through Central America. Volunteering on a permaculture farm in Costa Rica, I was for the first time introduced to this rather spectacular plant. Every day we made fresh salads using the produce we gathered from the gardens. Very carefully, leaf by leaf, I would pluck the little circular leaves off the branches of the moringa plant (and thought how unusual it was to include this as part of a salad). Where I grew up, salad came in one form -- iceberg lettuce.
Before long, the delightfully zingy and almost citrus flavor of moringa quickly became a personal favorite. I will never forget the words of the farmer there, “This is our multivitamin straight from nature!”
Where Is Moringa From?
This potent tropical green originates from the sub-Himalayan regions of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. It's now widely cultivated throughout sub-tropical and tropical regions all around the world, including Central America. Moringa oleifera
, otherwise commonly referred to as the horseradish tree, malunggay, or drumstick tree, is widely consumed in developing countries to help combat the prevalence of malnutrition. As you'll soon come to discover, there are some powerful health benefits of moringa you too can enjoy from this easy-to-grow plant. Coupled with its natural drought resistance, moringa is an incredibly versatile plant. It's humbling to appreciate the many purposes this one plant serves in regions where it's widely cultivated. These traditional cultures have been using the bark, fruit, roots, branches, and leaves for many purposes including (source
- Animal forage
- Creating biogas from the leaves
- Crushing the leaves and using as a cleaning agent
- As fencing by cultivating the live trees in tight rows
- As a green manure crop
- Extracting the juice from the leaves
- Using the bark to make rope
- Making pulp from the wood
- Extracting honey from the flowering plant
More recently, moringa is even being considered as a potential and more sustainable, form of biofuel. Growing interest from other countries has also helped to spur industry in moringa cultivation for these economically developing nations.
#1 -- Moringa is a superfood.
According to a recent review
on the medical literature, gram for gram, moringa has some astounding nutritional qualities. These include:
- 7 times more vitamin C than oranges
- 10 times more vitamin A than carrots
- 17 times more calcium than milk
- 9 times more protein than yoghurt
- 15 times more potassium than bananas
- 25 times more iron than spinach
(Just to reiterate, this is gram for gram. Powdered moringa makes it possible to consume a larger volume of moringa to attain these potent nutritional benefits. To break this down further, studies
have shown that Moringa leaves are rich in many phytochemicals (the chemicals produced by plants which can be utilized for human nutrition). These include:
- Vitamins A & D
- Vitamin C
- Amino Acids
Beyond moringa's nutrient density, there are a few medically proven, potential health benefits of consuming moringa.
#2 -- It may help diabetics regulate blood sugar levels.
suggest moringa powder may help in lowering fasting blood glucose levels, specifically in postmenopausal women. Furthermore, 5 human studies
have been published specifically demonstrating the anti-diabetic and anti-dyslipidemic potential of moringa. This is great news for diabetes sufferers or those who are insulin-resistant.
#3 -- Moringa may improve liver detoxification.
The liver is responsible for aiding your body to process nutrients, metabolize fats and sugars, filter blood, and produce bile. It's vital to support your liver during these processes. One study
examined moringa's potential to restore liver enzymes and reduce fibrosis. Furthermore, due to its anti-inflammatory compounds, studies
suggest moringa may be used as a therapeutic aid for those who suffer hepatic disorders. Low levels of hepatic enzymes may impair your liver from doing its job properly.
#4 -- Moringa is a powerful antioxidant.
Moringa is high in essential amino acids, carotenoids, and vitamin C. Studies
have recognized it as a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants are known
to help reduce oxidative stress in the body which helps to combat the breaking down of cells and reduce the signs of aging.
#5 -- Moringa may aid digestion.
Moringa also shows the ability to aid digestion. It may even act as an anti-inflammatory for those suffering inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Moringa is abundant in biophenols
which are connected to strong anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and immunomodulatory effects (source
). It's wonderful to finally see the research being conducted on plants, like moringa, that has been used in traditional cultures worldwide for generations!
Are you familiar with moringa? Do you use powdered or dried leaves?