Many people are very curious about the Moringa – how it came out of obscurity to be a super food! Have you heard of it? It is believed to provide heaps of protein, vitamin C and calcium, and comes with many health benefits.
People are therefore asking whether it should be included in their diet if it is such a super food. Modern traditions of the day are giving us each year some obscure super-food that makes millions of us stand up and take notice. In 2018 it was the Moringa tree’s turn. This miracle tree is entirely edible from the root to the bark, with seeds that can even purify water!
Moringa Tree Has Many Names and Benefits
The ‘drumstick tree’, Moringa oleifera, also known as the horseradish tree, grows in West Africa as well as South Asia, South America, and parts of the tropics as well. It is the seed pods and the leaves which contain all the wonderful health ingredients, that of protein, iron, calcium, vitamin C, and other antioxidants.
Some people even claim that the Moringa leaves, ounce for ounce, have two times as much protein as what yogurt has, has four times more calcium as milk, and seven times more vitamin C than oranges provide. And that the leaves and pods contain anti-diabetic and anti-inflammatory properties – some even say it can protect you against cancer. These life and health-giving seeds can be eaten green, powdered, roasted and even steeped in water to make a healthy drink.
Moringa is referred today as the ‘Wonder Tree’, ‘Miracle Tree’ and the ‘Divine Tree’ as well. It is thought that this wonder tree grew originally in northern India; that in actual fact, it has been used in Indian medicine for some 5000 years already – there are also accounts of the Moringa tree’s benefits being used by the ancient Greeks, the Egyptians and the Romans.
In Senegal, people call the Moringa the ‘Dr. Moringa’ tree because of all its health benefits. Some call it “Nebedaye” which is a kind of twist on the English words, ‘Never Die’. This is because it has the ability to grow in almost any soil types and conditions.
This glorious tree, native to India, has already been transplanted to a lot of other tropical and sub-tropical countries in Asia, as well as Latin America, and also Africa. And you can see by its characteristics that it is a tough plant.
If it receives too much water, it doesn’t suffer that much and if it doesn’t get enough water, it also usually pulls through. Workers that work with the Moringa trees even joke amongst themselves saying that if you toss Moringa seeds, scattering them on the ground, something will come of it, and a Moringa tree will grow there.
If you go and look around in Senegal, a country in West Africa, you wouldn’t believe that it was possible that you didn’t know about the Moringa Oleifera before. How could it be possible that such a tree has spread so fast across the developing world – turning out to be such an amazing solution for fighting malnutrition, generating incomes, fighting soil degradation, treating unclean water, combating and relieving a whole variety of diseases? Yet in the Western countries, this amazing tree has remained relatively unknown.
Some say the benefits of the Moringa tree are nothing short of miraculous. The poorest families in Senegal can’t afford vegetables for their meals, but instead, they eat a lot of starch-based foods like sauces, rice, porridge and plain couscous. Despite their meagre incomes, buying meat and rice is more important to them than buying vegetables or even worrying about what vitamins they are getting in from their food. Some middle-class families in Senegal will skimp on their veggies to try and get more rice and meat.
They claim to cook so much rice because they say it’s easier to feed everybody, it’s not too expensive and it fills everyone up. When you consider the limited nutrients and vitamins that come from these meals, then a nutritional supplement such as Moringa – which is grown locally – can seem to make a big difference. No one has to go out of their way to find the plant or grow it. They don’t have to give up the rice and meat they love but they can simply just add Moringa.
Moringa leaves are cooked, or sautéed. One disadvantage though, is that if you cook Moringa for too long, a lot of the nutritional content gets lost. Therefore, an easier way to get in the nutrients is through the powder form, the leaf powders, made from dried and pounded leaves and added into meals.
The minerals and vitamins are even more concentrated in the leaf powder and if it is stored in a cool place, the powder can last for months. This powder can be sprinkled on any meal, particularly best on savory meals, or it can be mixed in with porridge, and even blended with juice to create a smoothie-like drink.
Moringa Health Benefits
As far as health is concerned, the Moringa is a gift because it caters to so many health needs.
It does sound as if Moringa is a miracle plant, but it is not an emergency solution for severe malnutrition. It does serve as a superb preventative measure when someone is underweight.
If you feel your water is not clean, all you need do is add in powder from the crushed Moringa seed kernels to a bottle of the water you feel is not clean, and let it stand for a while – Moringa acts as a natural filter.
Are you struggling with diabetes? In some countries, where access to medical treatment is often limited, here’s what you can do:
Best of all about the Moringa tree is that none of the plant actually goes to waste – each and every part can be used. You even get Moringa leaf poultices – these are used in countries around the world from everything from a headache to glandular swelling, to skin infections. The seeds can also be cooked like beans or pressed down to create Moringa oil, which is noted for its relief for pain and swelling.
The roots are used too. They are known to be pounded to create poultices.
If you are suffering from asthma, taking moringa is one of the best choices you can make.
Moringa is Not Without Risks
It is easy, in producing and promoting the Moringa tree, for mistakes to be made; careless mistakes in making the leaf powder. When the chips are down, if the leaves haven’t been washed thoroughly before being dried, the powder then is not of 100% sanitation quality and then this can cause digestive illnesses.
The powder needs to be packed in clear plastic bags which are the cheapest option, and when it lies in the sun in the plastic bags, you can imagine that a lot of the essential vitamins are burned away. The whole process of producing Moringa needs to be conducted very carefully and the leaf powder stored well so that it can retain its nutritional value.
With the benefits of the plant becoming better known in the past few years, production of Moringa continues to grow, and even the Western countries have jumped onto this gravy train. Now you can buy bottles of Moringa supplements which are capsules that have been filled with the leaf powder.
As people realize the importance of Moringa, they continue using it. There are health centers and hospitals all over Senegal which offer the powder for sale, recommending it as a dietary supplement to mothers who have underweight children.
Moringa The Green Gold
Unfortunately, for many cultures, the Moringa carries a stigma attached to it as being a “poor person’s crop”, only needed or wanted in times of famine. But in the western world, rather than being a sign of impoverishment, Moringa now has acquired status – it’s known as a super-food in the U.S. Here you can buy power bars and smoothies made from the leaves of the Moringa. Many people say it is the “new kale.”
But don’t focus on Moringa as a superfood. It is rather suggested that you aim for variety in your diet, down-scaling your consumption of processed and fast foods, and eating an abundance of vegetables and fresh fruits as well.
You will be able to help your body achieve optimum health as well by following an anti-inflammatory diet – such a diet will give you plenty of vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and dietary fiber, all with protective phytonutrients without all the hype of Moringa.
Even though today Moringa is prized through the developing world for its nutrients and its ability to fight disease and suddenly coming forward as a super food, it still might be one that in a few years’ time, the hype is over, and a new super food has taken its place.
How To Take Moringa and The Optimum Dosage For Humans
You can use Moringa in a lot of different ways to get all the benefits, but in the U.S. it might be best to buy it in powder form or capsule form which prolongs its shelf life. Actually, there really is no particular dosage for Moringa because it’s a food; it’s an herbal supplement and not an essential nutrient. But anyway, the optimum dosage for humans has been calculated, and it is around 29 milligrams for each kilogram of body weight.
Recommendations are that you should start off by taking ½-teaspoon of dried Moringa every day for 3-5 days. Then increase the intake slowly but surely over two weeks to get accustomed to its effects. Some people take it only every other day because it can cause laxative effects and upset stomach when overused.
Dried Moringa leaves or Moringa powder: It takes around seven pounds of Moringa leaves to be converted into making one pound of dried Moringa powder. It is the leaves of the Moringa which are considered the most beneficial and potent parts of the plant – they contain the most antioxidants and macronutrients.
The root and stem portions of the plant seem to have the least amount of bioactive nutrients compared to the leaves. The dried leaves will be available in capsule, powdered, or tea form. It is best if you take whatever form you have purchased with a meal rather than on an empty stomach.
Moringa Tea: The tea is made from the dried leaves of the Moringa tree, and steeped in hot water, just like a lot of the herbal teas you buy and make. But the most nutrient-dense types are the organic herbs, dried slowly under low temperatures. This helps to preserve the delicate compounds. Don’t boil the leaves because you don’t want to destroy the nutrients. Cooking can also destroy some of the nutrients. You can buy MAJU’s Organic Moringa Powder here
Moringa Seeds: The Moringa pods and flowers have high phenolic content along with fatty acids and proteins. It is these parts of the plants which help to purify water and to add protein to diets that are low in nutrients. The immature green pods of the plant are often called “drumsticks” – and you prepare them in much the same way as you prepare green beans. The seeds inside the pods are removed and roasted or dried just like nuts.
Moringa Oil: Moringa oil is used in creams and lotions. Keep your oil in a cool, dark place away from high temperatures or from being in the sun.
Can Moringa Cure Diabetes?
However, it does show great potential as a solution for sustainable food for the rapidly growing global population. Researchers are still working to distinguish all the hype from the actual science of the Moringa tree.
Waterman says, though, that if diabetes could be delayed, it is “huge”. If diabetes is delayed by 15 years and you get it at the age of 60 instead of at age 45, you might not need a kidney transplant. And delayed diabetes could hold an amputation or a heart attack at bay.
Moringa leaf powder is thought to maximize the potential of antioxidants and to fight high blood sugar by improving the body’s gut microbiota. More research is necessary in order to confirm these findings, but the preliminary results are promising!
Today, Moringa improves nutrition and livelihoods across the world. It is one of the cool new super foods of the day, in the same way that quinoa was a fabulous superfood 10 years ago and in the same way that chia became a super-food five years ago.
It is not expected that Moringa is going to overhaul the health of heaps of Americans because a lot of the super foods get over hyped – and in any case, Moringa is expensive and people will opt for buying kale or broccoli instead. But many are nevertheless finding that Moringa adds color and variety to their meals.
But in the meantime, it is said that for every problem that we encounter, there is a solution to be found in nature, and the wonder plant, the Moringa, for the time being, might be just the solution you or someone else might desperately be looking for.