Moringa - The Latest & Greatest Superfood
Heard of Moringa before? You might want to go and get some after reading this…. Moringa (Moringa oleifera) is also known as the Ben-Oil Tree, Drumstick Tree, or Indian Horseradish. Moringa is a fast-growing tree typically cultivated in India, tropical Asia, Africa, and Latin America, yielding long seed pods that resemble drumsticks, hence the name Drumstick Tree.
Moringa has long been used in eastern medicine to treat many ailments such as low energy, adrenal fatigue and helps to naturally detox the liver just to name a few. As a dietary supplement, Moringa is high in protein, Vitamins A, B, and C and contains minerals such as calcium and iron. It is also rich in flavonoid, a class of compounds found in plants that contribute to essential plant functions. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, “Moringa products have antibiotic, antitrypanosomal, hypotensive, antispasmodic, antiulcer, anti-inflammatory, hypocholesterolemic, and hypoglycemic properties”. In essence, this makes Moringa a new superfood that is nutritious and medicinal. Moringa is particularly mentioned in Ayurvedic treatments as the most nutritious tree in India.
In traditional Indian Ayurvedic treatments, moringa is used as a natural and safe detox, often used as a regular tonic of the body. Apart from wellness from within, moringa leaves and barks can be processed into a balm for external application, alleviating joint pains and rheumatism as the plant has a mild analgesic effect. It’s no wonder the Moringa plant is now being hailed as the latest superfood. In the western world, Moringa products come in various forms, with the most convenient and widely-available form being Moringa powder ground from dried leaves and taken as a supplement in pill form. Here are just some of the wonderful health benefits:
It's packed with vital nutrients - vitamins A, C, and E; calcium; potassium; and protein.
It fights free radicals - molecules that cause oxidative stress and cell damage.
It fights inflammation – helping to prevent chronic diseases like diabetes, respiratory problems, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, and obesity.
Reduces diabetes symptoms – reducing lipid and glucose levels.
Protects the cardiovascular system – prevents plaque formation and reduces cholesterol levels.
Protects the liver – with high concentrations of polyphenols.
Has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties – to fight infections
How do you enjoy the benefits of Moringa? As a Supplement (pill or capsule)
Due to different manufacturing styles and ways to process the plant, the dosage can be varied. Always check the label for the recommended dosage given they have different concentrations of active ingredients. Usually, it’s one pill per day.
As a Powder
For Moringa leaf powder, it is typically sold in packets or jars. For the most effective health benefits, it’s best taken raw, as heat may destroy some of the useful and healthful compounds. The general instructions for various brands seem to suggest starting off slow and adding more powder day by day in order for the body to get used to the detoxifying qualities of Moringa. Start off with a quarter teaspoon added to your smoothies, iced tea, water or sprinkled on your breakfast such as yogurt or overnight chia pudding and slowly build up to 1 tablespoon a day.
From the Seeds & Leaves
You might come across roasted whole Moringa seeds or even whole leaves. These are usually hard to come by so if you want to use these, it’s best to check your local health food store, Asian markets, or Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners. The seeds are typically bitter and astringent though; how much you use will depend on personal taste. To use Moringa seeds, remove the shell and chew five to ten seeds a day if possible, or grind them into powder and sprinkle on your food.
When it comes to cooking Moringa leaves and seeds, the spices used in Indian cooking, such as cumin and turmeric, complement the anti-inflammatory effect of Moringa. If eaten raw, start off with a quarter cup of leaves per day and build up to a half-cup a day. No matter how you choose to have your Moringa for its therapeutic effect, the key is moderation and consuming it in line with you and your body. For some, that means being able to handle more at first, for you it might be to only take a quarter of the recommended dosage.
Being a superfood, it’s important to remember that Moringa is ultimately not medication but a nutrient-rich food that supports a healthy diet and lifestyle. It’s not meant to be a superfood that gives you everything you need or a cure for all your ailments. If you are pregnant, never consume Moringa tree bark or root as it could cause early labor or uterine contractions. If you are menstruating, it can cause excessive bleeding due to the detoxifying nature.
As always, consult your doctor before incorporating Moringa or any other superfood into your daily diet.