Moringa is a popular tree whose bark, roots, flowers, fruits, seeds and pods are edible and are used as health supplements. 13 varieties of the tree exist but the most popular one is Moringa Oleifera. Considered a miracle tree, the Moringa tree is highly nutritious and contains immense medicinal value popularly used as a traditional remedy. It has been used in Eastern countries to treat diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, anemia and heart disease. It is a common feature of Ayurveda Medicine.
What Is Moringa?
Moringa is a small tree mainly grown in subtropical, tropical and arid areas. It is also known as the horseradish tree, drumstick tree, benzoil tree or simply Moringa. These names are based on the appearance of the triangular seed-pods, the root’s taste, and the oil derived from its seeds.
It’s a drought-resistant tree that grows very fast and originates from northwestern India at the Himalayas southern foothills. Since the tree is naturally resistant to numerous insects, it grows quickly in peak conditions, gaining up to 10 feet a year. It can now be found growing in several African countries and is available in the western world.
Every part of this tree is beneficial and has been used to treat people of more than 300 health conditions. Moringa is considered a vegetable tree. It is a low maintenance crop, highly economical with attributes that help it fight starvation, disease and malnutrition around the world. Every part of the tree is edible, and it is a superfood with numerous nutrients.
After being cut, the moringa tree quickly rebounds back and each stump produces 4 to 8 new shoots. Keeping the tree pruned encourages lusher denser growth producing a bountiful harvest. Keeping the tree at a rational height enables you to reach the fruit, leaves and blossoms easily.
The Nutrient Value of Moringa Tree
Moringa leaves are its most nutritious part. The leaves are significant sources of essential nutrients like vitamin C, beta-carotene (provitamin A), manganese, B vitamins, vitamin K, and protein. In comparison to other common foods, cooked moringa leaves act as significant sources of these nutrients.
Fruits and Seed Pods
The seed pods and fruits are exceptionally high in vitamin C. They are also good sources of potassium, manganese, dietary fiber and magnesium. Moringa seeds contain a little of B vitamins. Care needs to be taken in handling and cooking of these tree parts because cooking can interfere with some of the nutrients.
Uses of Moringa
Moringa leaves can be harvested as frequently as every few weeks, providing a steady flow. The best leaves are young and green which are easily prepared by washing and removing stems before serving. The moringa tree has several uses which include the following.
- The leaves and seed pods can be used as vegetables
- The leaves can be cooked or dried and crushed into moringa leaf powder for use in sauces or soups
- The seeds, when removed from mature pods can be eaten like peas or roasted in a similar manner as nuts
- When processed, mature seeds produce 38–40% edible oil that is highly concentrated in behenic acid. This oil, called ben oil is odorless and clear, and easily resists rancidity
- After the oil has been extracted, a seed cake remains which can be used to purify water or serve as fertilizer. Moringa seed oil can also be used as biofuel.
- The roots are ground to make moringa powder which contains high amounts of polyphenols and is used as a seasoning
- Moringa tree has been used to fight malnutrition among nursing women and infants because it is a nutritious food source available throughout the year
- Moringa can also be used as a natural anthelmintic, a micronutrient liquid, and livestock forage
- When wetted in advance, moringa leaf powder is effective as hand washing soap because it facilitates the release of detergent and anti-septic properties from the leave’s phytochemicals
What Are Moringa Benefits?
Since every part of the moringa tree is edible, and the plant is highly nutritious, the benefits that can be obtained from it are numerous. There are few plants with as many medicinal properties and nutrients in the world as this hardy tree. Moringa benefits include the following.
- Moringa has high levels of Omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants which cause cell regeneration and healthy cell production resulting in reduced inflammation.
- The moringa plant contains complete proteins which have all the essential amino acids. Combined with vitamins C and E, they facilitate scalp blood circulation leading to greater absorption of nutrients in follicles.
- Moringa tea increases your health and vitality by enhancing energy levels without the accompanying sugar rush
- Since moringa is high in vitamin A and beta-carotene, it contributes to healthy eyes and clearer sight.
- With high amounts of fiber, moringa causes a detoxifying effect helping your body eliminate toxins and waste. This gives you healthier and regular bowel movements and helps your body absorb nutrients faster and fully.
- The moringa plant boosts your immune system and helps you retain skin suppleness, preventing wrinkles.
- Moringa leaves and flowers contain pterygospermin, a natural fungicide, antiseptic and antibiotic. It has been used to successfully treat cholera, chest congestion, ear infection, bronchitis and conjunctivitis
- The oil from moringa seeds is healthy with high amounts of monounsaturated fatty acids. It has a high smoke point and resists rancidity.
- Ben oil from moringa lowers cholesterol and blood glucose levels due to the high level of healthy sterols
- Crushed moringa seeds purifies water in readiness for drinking by acting as a natural binder. It causes salts, fine particles, bacteria, and other water impurities to clump together making removal easy.
Moringa Side Effects
When used appropriately, and taken by mouth, moringa is safe. When taken in doses of up to 6 grams daily for a period of 3 weeks, it is considered safe. Some side effects include:
- Avoid moringa root and extract consumption because they can contain a toxic substance that causes paralysis and death
- Avoid moringa bark, root or flowers if pregnant, because chemicals in them can cause contractions in the uterus resulting in a miscarriage
- Since safety in breastfeeding women has not been established, it’s best to avoid it when breastfeeding.
If you have not yet tried moringa, it’s about time you did. The benefits are innumerous.