In the U.S. most people have not heard of this plant, but it has been well known around the world as a miracle tree.
The most commonly used parts are the leaves and seed, but the pods, fruit, flowers, roots and bark all have uses and are a powerhouse of nutrients and antioxidants. The entire tree is useful or edible in some manner. Many traditional medicines are made from the parts in the countries it is native to and it is claimed to have the capacity to cure several diseases.
Moringa is safe for consumption, although there are some precautions concerning the roots, bark and flowers in certain specific situations. particularly pregnancy (see webMD link below). But in normal circumstances, the leaves, tender stems and ‘drums’ are completely safe for everyone and highly nutritious.
Moringa leaves contain about 30 antioxidants, which work in the body to combat the free-radicals that cause disease.
The moringa seed contain 40% edible oil known as Ben oil. It is a clear, sweet and odorless oil that is rich in antioxidants, protects against heavy-metal toxicity and is similar to olive oil in terms of its nutritional profile. It has an indefinite shelf life as it does not turn rancid like other oils. The oil is also used for cosmetic purposes
Moringa contains all the essential amino acids needed by the body.
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins which are needed to grow, repair and maintain cells. Human body manufactures 10 to 12 amino acids. The remaining 8 amino acids are known as the essential amino acids which should be provided from everyday diet and moringa contains all of them. The list of essential amino acids and their benefits are listed below.
|ISOLEUCINE||Helps in building protein and enzymes and creation of biochemical components within the body.|
|LEUCINE||Builds protein and enzymes along with isoleucine to enhance body’s energy and alertness.|
|LYSINE||Ensures the absorption of right amount of calcium by the body and aids in collagen formation and production of antibodies, hormones and enzymes. Maintains the balance of nutrients that reduce viral growth.|
|METHEONINE||Provides sulphur to the body and prevents hair, skin and nail problems. Lowers cholesterol levels by increasing liver’s production of lecithin. Helps in reducing liver fat and bladder irritation.|
|PHENYLALAINE||Production of chemicals required to transmit signals between nerve cells and brain, thus reducing hunger pains. It also improves memory.|
|THREONINE||Forms an important part of collagen, elastin and enamel proteins. Assists metabolism, prevents fat build up in the liver and boosts digestive and intestinal tracts.|
|TRYTOHYAN||Supports the immune system and alleviates insomnia. Reduction of anxiety, depression and migraine symptoms. Decreases the risk of artery and heart spasms as it reduces cholesterol levels along with lysine.|
|VALINE||Promotes a sharp mind, coordinated muscles and calm mood|
Moringa has been used:
- to boost energy levels by stimulating metabolism and cell structures of the body – because of this it aids in weight loss, a definite plus.
- to heal ulcers
- to stop tumor growth
- to reduce arthritis pain and inflammation
- to control blood pressure
- to stimulate the immune system and it is often prescribed for AIDS afflicted patients.
- to prevent blindness as it is rich in vitamin A or beta-carotene
- to dramatically increase production of breast milk. (leaves and tea only!)
- to balance sugar levels, it can be extremely effective against diabetes
- in balancing the cholesterol levels
- to help calm the nerves. The leaves are said to have anti-depressant properties.
- to replace vitamin and mineral supplements as it is a natural source of calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, selenium, copper, zinc and manganese and vitamins A, B’s, C, D, E, and more.
- as a method of birth control in certain medical preparations (always be extremely cautious of anything you put into your body when pregnant!)
- as an aphrodisiac: Like every ‘miracle’ food, there are claims that moringa boosts your libido and stamina, and frankly, with all the good nutrition, it would be no surprise if this area did improve!
Moringa leaves also contain sulfur. This mineral is present in every single cell of the body and is the key ingredient for Collagen and keratin, which are building blocks for healthy skin and nails. Perhaps this is part of the reason for the claims of better skin and wrinkle reduction in those who regularly consume moringa.
Last but not least, Moringa has antibacterial properties and can be used as a purifier and as a natural detoxifier. In areas where the water is impure moringa seeds are used to absorb the impurities. In a similar manner, moringa works in the body to remove toxins from the blood.
Moringa is a food substance and is used as such in many countries, not a medicine that has side effects. It is one of the healthiest food products on the planet. It’s time we learned more about it, and started making it a regular part of our own diets.
The great thing is, it is easy to grow! I live in Florida, and I have 4 trees in my yard. They grow like weeds! In a year they grew from 2 to 10 feet tall, and that was with me trimming them regularly to use for eating and to dry the leaves. I know people who are growing them indoors, they just have to be trimmed regularly or they will be hitting the ceiling!
Scroll below the Resources for some recipes and ideas for use.
Some Excellent Resources for more information:
What the Medical Community says about Moringa at WebMD – Including benefits and some cautions during pregnancy.
Moringa Nutrient Charts (.pdf)
HOW TO USE MORINGA
My favorite way is simply as a dried leaf. I trim the plants, strip the leaves and tender stems from the branches and spread them on a clean sheet on the bed in our guest room. There they fan dry in the dark for 3-4 days, getting stirred every 12 or so hours.
Then I use the powder in EVERYTHING! From smoothies to sprinkling it into skillet dishes (near the end to keep as many nutrients in it as possible), to adding it to baked goods and even a little in oatmeal. A little in a lot of things adds up to a lot of extra nutrition packed into your food.
You can steep it into a tea also. I use about a teaspoon of the loose leaves, and steep them for 3-5 minutes. Moringa tea has a unique flavor and if you don’t particularly care for it, add it to your favorite herb tea and get the benefits while not catching the flavor straight up. Some people love it, some don’t. But either way, you can find a way to use it. Many people like it with a bit of peppermint or lemon.
If you are not lucky enough to be able to grow your own, you can get dried Moringa from many sources. However, I like to support organizations that support others so I would suggest purchasing from ECHO, which is an organization that not only sells the trees, but works to plant them in areas where hunger and malnutrition is prevalent. All proceeds from the sale of books, plants, gifts and seeds are used to support the global ministry of ECHO. Your purchase will make a valuable contribution to fighting world hunger. Partnering with ECHO by purchasing from them helps to sow “seeds of hope” around the world!
ECHO has other awesome products also. The link above takes you directly to the Moringa page, but please look around before you leave.
My other favorite way is fresh, tossed into salads, or made into Pesto. (see my 100+ Ways to Make Pesto article for ideas and ‘How-To’). Moringa Pesto is deep and earthy and so healthy for you.
It’s great on pasta, spread on gluten free crackers or veggies, or right off the spoon! I’ve smothered chicken breasts in it and baked them, made pesto shrimp and topped grass-fed steak with it.
It looked so good the last time I made it, I thought it deserved a fancy glass!
The moringa pesto works especially well with a sweeter nut like almonds, cashews or pistachios which play against the slightly bitter taste of the moringa nicely.
I found this link and while I am not endorsing their products because I do not know them, the recipe page here is extensive!
Moringa Tree of Life.com also has some good recipes and some more information about Moringa (good smoothie recipe here also)
Once my own trees get bigger, I am hoping to be able to provide dried moringa at a reasonable price.
If you are interested, please leave a comment below so I know if there is any interest.
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