Moringa might sound foreign to some of you, but believe it or not, it is one of the most nutritious natural food sources that grace the humankind. Its unique-looking leaves are not only cheap and easily-grown but also loaded with health-giving phytochemicals, which are crucial for the total recovery and maintenance of both your mind and body. With its established culinary and therapeutic significance, moringa oleifera has become an important part of the different cultures and civilizations throughout the centuries and all over the world. In the present, the green plant is being utilized in many laboratory studies to further develop its potent healing powers. If you want to learn more about what are the benefits of moringa leaves, then read on.
The green moringa leaves are one of the most nutritious foods to ever grace the planet.
Moringa leaves, which come in fresh and dried form, are found to contain rich amounts of antioxidants, chlorophyll, vitamins, minerals, complete amino acids, and other vital phytonutrients that display various disease-preventing actions. These moringa compounds have long been proven to help treat malnutrition, microbial infection, and metabolic diseases, especially in individuals among impoverished communities. Regular consumption of moringa leaves is linked to a decreased risk of diabetes, eye illness, cardiovascular disorders, and pathogenic ailments while enhancing your vision, bone structure, wound healing, and skin appearance.
What is Moringa?
Moringa oleifera, also known as drumstick tree or simply moringa, is a well-recognized tropical plant cultivated for its leafy greens, fruit pods, and flower buds, all of which are utilized for various cuisines and medicinal purposes. This genus belongs to the Moringaceae family of woody and stout-stemmed trees and shrubs, along with other 11 species scattered around the southwest and northeast Africa, Arabia, India, and Madagascar.
The moringa tree is believed to have come from northern India, where it was extensively used in the Indian medicine system 5,000 years ago. Records also show that ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans use the plant in their main traditional remedy applications. Moringa has become a vital vegetable, as well as a medicinal plant, in almost every country on the globe, earning its titles as “mother’s best friend” and “miracle tree.”
The nutritious moringa leaves have helped millions of malnourished poverty-stricken communities throughout the world.
One reason why moringa parts are loved by many is their distinct taste. The immature, tender pods or drumsticks are steamed, boiled, fried, or roasted for their bittersweet flavor. Meanwhile, moringa leaves are cooked like spinach or dried and powdered to maximize their matcha-like with hints of spirulina-tasting algae quality. Moringa leaf powder can be used as a condiment or sprinkles for yogurt, juices, smoothies, and other sweet beverages.
With its wide range of therapeutic features like antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antifungal, and antidepressant properties, moringa’s nutritional value is constantly acknowledged in the medical world. Its components have been proven to significantly strengthen the immune system and protect the fundamental organs in the body, including the liver, heart, bone, eyes, and skin. Continue reading to know more about the special healing qualities of moringa leaves that helped millions of malnourished, poverty-stricken communities throughout the world.
Nutritional Profile of Moringa Leaves
What are the Benefits of Moringa Leaves?
A scientific journal presents that moringa leaves have high levels of antioxidants that combat the several detrimental effects of pathogenic infections, pollutants, and free radicals. They possess powerful flavonoids like chlorogenic and gallic acids, glucosinolates, quercetin, saponins, and tannins and catechin polyphenols called epigallocatechin gallate that is associated with a lesser risk of cancer cell growth. The fresh leaves also have rich vitamin E that inhibits oxidative stress, as well as cell proliferation.
The mentioned antioxidants in moringa leaves have been found to display anti-inflammatory effects that decrease the production and gene expression of several pro-inflammatory markers in the body, increasing the body’s immunity. Furthermore, the fermentation of the green leaves has recorded better anti-inflammatory response, especially in the RNA cells and endoplasmic reticulum.
Numerous phytomedicine journals published on the efficacy of moringa leaves in fighting off toxic microbes, including food-borne bacteria and viruses, making the plant useful in the preservation and sanitation of food products. The leaves’ antimicrobial and antibiotic properties work magnificently against Salmonella, E.coli, several Rhizopus species, H. pylori, and coliform bacteria and Aspergillus and Penicillium fungal contaminants.
Major Health Benefits of Moringa Leaves
1. Moringa leaves promote heart health
With the presence of potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatory substances in moringa leaves, the food has been often linked to the effective prevention of cardiac damage. The leaves have niaziminin and isothiocyanate compounds that can regulate both cholesterol and blood pressure levels, prevent artery inflammation, and help with blood vessel dilation to reduce pulmonary hypertension.
2. Consuming moringa prevents brain ailments
Dietary consumption of moringa leaves has been associated with better prevention and management of neurodegenerative diseases. Their anti-epileptic and antidepressant properties are found to alter the brain’s electrical activities and production of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin, lessening the risk of fatigue, anxiety, depression, and Alzheimer’s disease.
3. Moringa supplementation lessens diabetes risk
Powdered moringa leaves can be an economical dietary supplementation of individuals suffering from diabetes and those at high risk of the disease, as it can effectively normalize the blood and urine sugar levels. The food can also improve the hemoglobin and protein in the body, potentially treating chronic dyslipidemia and hyperglycemia.
4. Moringa leaves benefit your gut, liver, and kidneys
Aside from boosting your immunity, moringa nutrition also promotes metabolism, encouraging the normal functioning of the stomach, kidney, and liver. Its isothiocyanate content has been shown to ease various abdominal disorders, including constipation, diarrhea, ulcerative colitis, and gastritis. Meanwhile, the combined power of catechin, ferulic acid, and vitamin C in moringa speeds up both the liver and kidney’s recovery process, reducing the risk of further damage.
5. The leafy greens alleviate lung issues
Another benefit of moringa leaves is alleviating asthma and other inflammation-induced symptoms like coughing, dyspnea, wheezing, and abnormal bronchial and chest contractions. Moringa’s anti-allergenic qualities also relieve allergic rhinitis and anaphylaxis, enhancing respiration and other vital lung functions.
6. Moringa nutrition hinders cancer growth
Laboratory research has found that the rich antioxidant chemicals in moringa leaves possess antiproliferative and chemopreventive properties, decreasing your risk of cancer, particularly in the breast, ovary, liver, and skin. Aside from scavenging and neutralizing the cancer-causing free radicals, moringa antioxidants have shown to inhibit the growth and development of tumors and induce apoptosis or cell death in the carcinogenic cells.
7. Mineral-rich moringa strengthens bones
Moringa leaves are one of the best sources of essential minerals like iron, calcium, copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium, and zinc, all of which are crucial for maintaining strong and healthy bones. These nutrients are shown to improve bone density and relieve chronic inflammation, lessening the occurrence of bone conditions like osteoporosis and arthritis.
8. It treats anemia and sickle cell disorder
Moringa leaves have numerous nutrients that support the treatment and prevention of anemia and sickle cell disorder. They have flavonols, including acacetin, kaempferol, and quercetin, phenolic acids, such as vanillic and melilotic acids, and minerals like iron and zinc that increase cell volume, platelet count, and hemoglobin levels of the body.
9. Moringa leaves reduce eye damage
Moringa leaves’ antioxidants have exhibited robust protection against inflammation and damages in the retina by hindering the thickening of capillaries, dilation of retinal vessels, and retinal dysfunction.
10. They have numerous benefits for your skin
Moringa powder promotes a smooth, blemish-free, and young-looking skin through its excellent natural antioxidants like bioflavonoids and vitamins C, E, and A. These compounds ability to scavenge and eliminate free radicals in the skin can delay the aging process, thereby decreasing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. The topical application of powdered moringa leaves, which owns strong antimicrobial agents, has also shown to heal wounds and cuts faster, devoiding the skin of unwanted marks.
How to Prepare
Clean the different moringa parts by washing in cold water and mopping dry using an absorbent cloth. To prepare the leaves, sift them from their twigs and discard the stem. You can then chop the greens or leave them as is. For the pods, trim both ends and cut into desired size and shape.
Here are a few delectable serving ideas you can follow to relish your moringa leaves and pods:
- Moringa leaves can be added to any of your favorite poultry, prawn, and fish soup and stew preparations.
- Fresh moringa leaves can also be sautéed together with butter or vegetable oil, onions, peanut butter, and smoked or dried fish. Don’t forget to season with pepper and salt for an enhanced taste.
- In the Philippines, moringa leaves are usually cooked with coconut milk for a deliciously healthy “ginataang malunggay”.
- Dried and powdered leaves are employed in the preparation of different pastries like bread, rolls, muffins, and cake in many Asian and African countries.
- In South Indian regions, moringa pods are used in cuisines involving curry and steamed rice.
How to Select and Store
Selection: Both moringa leaves and pods are readily available all year round in most tropical and subtropical countries. However, fresh moringa oleifera is usually only sold in a farmer’s market in the USA. Look for tender, fresh-looking, and evenly-colored green leaves and pods. Avoid those that are shriveled, dry, twisted, bent, broken, and discolored vegetables.
Storage: Store moringa leaves like how you do other greens. Pods should be kept at room temperature to last for two days. Dried and powdered moringa leaves should be placed in airtight containers in a dry and cool room.
Possible Risks and Complications
While there are still no concerning adverse effects in the consumption of moringa, one should keep in mind that the food should be used as a vegetable and not as a drug. With that being said, moringa leaves and pods are generally safe when taken in normal food amounts and moderation.
Now that you’ve learned the wide array of moringa’s health benefits, you should be able to decide to incorporate this nutritious food in your daily diet plan. With their high levels of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, minerals, vitamins, and other phytochemicals, moringa leaves and pods are recognized to boost overall wellness everywhere in the world. And since the plant is easily-grown, cheap, and versatile, you don’t have a reason to not savor its numerous disease-preventing properties and avoid chronic illnesses like cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, retinal damage, arthritis, liver and kidney issues, asthma, anemia, and aging.
Have you tasted moringa leaves and pods? What is your first impression of the food? Share your wellness journey with us in the comments below!