What is Moringa?
Moringa oleifera, or simply Moringa, is the most popular of the thirteen species of the Moringacae family. Native to the southern Himalayan foothills, Moringa oleifera can be found in almost all tropical countries. This resilient, fast growing tree is grown for food, dye, medicine, fodder and water clarification.
Moringa is planted for its fruits, roots and leaves for a broad range of nutritional and medicinal purposes. Recognized as a superfood, its leaves contain more protein than peas, more beta-carotene than carrots, more calcium than milk, more vitamin C than oranges, as much potassium as bananas and more iron than spinach.
Moringa is a resilient plant. It can grow under different kinds of environmental conditions. It can tolerate high temperatures or drought and can endure a light frost. Moringa can be planted either by transplanting, direct seeding or using stem cuttings.
Moringa Benefits – Uses of Different Parts
Every part of the Moringa tree is beneficial in some way, and many people from different parts of the world depend on it for food, for therapeutic purposes and for their livelihood.
Moringa seeds are large and round in shape. They grow inside a long pod that can grow more than one foot in length. Every pod may contain over a dozen Moringa seeds. The seeds can be used as food. They contain moderate amounts of dietary minerals and B vitamins and high levels of vitamin C. Dried seeds can be roasted, boiled or steamed like beans and peas. They have a distinct nutty taste, which is ideal as a snack food.
In addition, Moringa seeds are noted for their anti-inflammatory and antibiotic properties. The seeds are roasted, ground and then mixed with coconut oil to help treat conditions such as rheumatism, arthritis, cramps, gout, skin infections, boils and even sexually transmitted disease.
Moringa seeds are also very popular for their ability to clarify water. As a natural coagulant or flocculant, it can help treat cloudy or turbid water by pulling together particles such as dirt, worms and even germs. When the water settles, the Moringa seeds together with the impurities sink to the bottom of the container. Though this method helps reduce dirt and other large particles, it doesn’t make the water totally clean and free of germs. A supplementary treatment, such as solar disinfection or filtration, must be used. Chlorination must never be used as it may cause negative reactions with the Moringa seeds.
Moringa Stem & Bark
Like the roots, the Moringa bark has also been proven to contain highly concentrated antibiotic properties. These natural Moringa components can help alleviate a host of conditions, from sexually transmitted disease to gout and even arthritis.
Harvested roots from the Moringa tree serve a wide range of purposes. The roots have been known to have healing and nourishing properties and are even used for creating perfumes, medicines, natural pesticides, cleaning agents, fertilizers and many other essential products.
Moringa roots have been used for culinary purposes. The root, which is often used as a condiment, spice or as a sauce, is rich in protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals. Children suffering from malnutrition are encouraged to eat the sauce made from Moringa roots for faster recovery.
Moringa roots have been used in Ayurveda for hundreds of years to treat a variety of ailments. In small doses, the roots are used to treat disorders affecting the circulatory system. It can also enhance appetite and improve digestion, making it beneficial for those with irritable bowel syndrome and gastric upset.
Recent studies show the potential of Moringa roots as a treatment for ovarian cancer, including hormonal problems affecting the thyroid and blood glucose levels.
Moringa Benefits – Its Uses as a Plant Food
Moringa, recognized as a ‘miracle tree‘ is being hailed as a ‘superfood’ for its high nutritional content. As a plant food, one of the notable moringa benefits is providing enough protein to sustain life. From the seeds, the stem, the bark, the roots to the leaves, moringa is probably the most generous giver of life-enriching nutrients.
Moringa Benefits – Its Phytonutrients
Phytochemicals are natural chemical compounds produced by plants through photosynthesis and are believed to have healing effects. A study on Moringa phytochemicals revealed a range of unique compounds. The plant is rich in phytochemicals that contain simple sugar called as ‘rhamnose‘ and it belongs to a group of compounds called isothiocyanates and glucosinolates. For instance, certain components of Moringa powder have been reported to have antibacterial, hypotensive and anticancer properties include 4-(4’-O-acetyl-
α-L-rhamnopyranosyloxy)benzyl isothiocy-anate, 4-(α-Lrhamnopyranosyloxy)benzyl glucosinolate, benzyl isothiocyanate, 4-(α-Lrhamnopyranosyloxy)benzyl isothiocy-anate and niazimicin.
Aside from the phytochemicals mentioned, Moringa is also rich in other recognized phytochemicals like carotenoids and chlorophyll.
Nutritional Value of Moringa
What’s incredible with Moringa is its rich amount of nutritional and medicinal compounds.
When you look at the abundance of different vitamins, minerals and even amono acids of Moringa, it is easy to understand why it is considered as a ‘miracle tree’.
Medicinal Benefits of Moringa
Moringa is one of the best sources of natural antioxidants, having approximately 46 antioxidants. Antioxidants provide the free atoms necessary for our body and counteract the effects of free radicals. The beta-carotene present in leaves of Moringa acts as antioxidant. Another antioxidant found in Moringa leaves are flavonoids, which is a class of antioxidant. A cocktail of antioxidants is better and more effective than having a single one on an equal weight basis, which makes Moringa tea a very effective source of natural antioxidant than any other herbal tea.
For hundreds of years, people from different countries have used Moringa leaves as a natural healing agent for common ailments. Several studies have proven Moringa benefits for health and healing.
- It contains strong antioxidant that are potent against skin and prostate cancer. It also has an anti-aging and anti-tumor substance.
- It helps modulate high blood pressure, anemia, diabetes, thyroid, kidney and liver problems and high cholesterol levels.
- It has anti-inflammatory properties that can support alleviate joint pain, edema, Lupus and rheumatism.
- It can help digestive disorders such as flatulence, diarrhoea, gastritis or ulcer.
- Its antibacterial, anti-viral and anti-microbial properties are effective against typhoid, urinary tract infection, dental carries, syphilis, common cold, fungus, thrush, HIV AIDS, worms, parasites, warts and schistosomes.
Moringa Benefits – As an Anti-Aging Tool
Moringa is packed with a unique type of natural cytokinin (a plant hormone) called ‘zeatin‘. The role of cytokinin is to protect plant cells against oxidation, and zeatin is considered as the most powerful of all cytokinins. A Danish study in 2004 reported zeatin as a key component to a more youthful skin. It helps promote small cell size, affects the functional and structural integrity of the cell and protect the cell from macromolecular damage. The said research also found that zeatin further enhances the antioxidant enzymatic activity, mitigating free radical-caused oxidative damaged occurring during cell aging.
So, which plant contains the more zeatin than any other plant? Scientists have found zeatin in very low concentration in most plants, with concentrations between 0.00002 mcg/g to 0.02 mcg/g. However, the zeatin content of Moringa leaves and leaf powder was found to be exceptionally high, between 5 mcg and 200mcg/g, which is several thousand times more concentrated that most plants studied.
How Do I Use Moringa Leaf Powder
Moringa leaf powder is made from freshly harvested leaves of Moringa tree. It is prepared by drying the leaves at low temperature until the plant tissue achieves a fine powdered consistency. Next, the powder is screened to get rid of impurities and then sealed in bags. The reason why the leaf powder is better than the fresh leaves is that it contains more nutrients, even ten times more in comparison to the fresh leaves.
Since it is pure and organic, Moringa leaf powder is generally safe to use. It easily dissolves in water and can be used in wide variety of recipes. The ways to incorporate Moringa leaf powder into your diet are truly endless. It can be used as a tea, sprinkled on food or made into a smoothie. Though it can be used in cooking, high temperature may destroy some of the nutrients.
A teaspoonful is enough and can be mixed with water but be careful not to breathe the fine powder. Moringa leaf powder is packed with nutrition and it is easy to use and store.
Moringa Tea Recipe:
You can use a coffee maker to make Moringa tea. Simply add Moringa leaf to the filter like you would for a cup of coffee you want to brew. Use 1/2 to 1 teaspoon for a single cup.
Moringa Green Smoothie Recipe:
This moringa smoothie is easy to prepare, delicious and absolutely healthy.
- 1 banana
- 4 leaves of kale
- 1/2 teaspoon moringa powder
- 1 tablespoon cacao powder
- 1 cup coconut water
- 1 cup ice
- 1 tablespoon almond butter
- 1 piece date
- Combine all the ingredients in a blender. Blend in high speed until smooth.
- Pour into a large cup and enjoy!
Have you used moringa leaf powder? What do you think about it? Share your thoughts, experiences and suggestions with us.