Moringa contains a cornucopia of health benefits both nutritional and medicinal. Because it’s a heavyweight when it comes to nutrition, it is used in many areas of the world to combat malnutrition. Being easily and inexpensively cultivated also makes it an excellent food source for impoverished regions. Thus, it may become the world’s most valuable plant.
All of the “drumstick tree,” a regional name for moringa, can be consumed or used for medicine. The leaves can be eaten fresh or dried. The dried leaves retain their vitamins and minerals for months. The green pods of moringa are cooked like green beans; the seeds are roasted like nuts, and the cooked leaves are used in the same way as spinach.
While relatively new in the U.S., moringa has been used for thousands of years in the subtropical countries even the Romans, Greeks, and Egyptians made use of moringa. The Indian Ayurvedic medical tradition lists 300 medicinal uses for moringa.
In the U.S. and other parts of the west, the wonder of moringa has caught on and is classified as a superfood. Superfoods are foods whose nutritional value surpasses the normal nutrient level of other foods. And, their phytonutrients have specific healing properties that are naturally medicinal.
Here’s a look at what makes moringa a spectacular food.
Moringa Nutritional Value
Moringa is drenched in nutrients. It contains high amounts of fiber, essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. Ounce-for-ounce moringa contains more:
- Vitamin A than carrots – 10 times the amount.
- Vitamin C than oranges – 12 times the amount.
- Calcium than milk – 17 times the amount.
- Iron than spinach – 7 times the amount.
- Potassium than bananas – 15 times the amount.
Moringa also has vitamins B1, B2, B3 (niacin), and riboflavin. It has more protein than yogurt. Copper, fiber, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc are other nutrients in moringa. Moringa also contains high amounts of micronutrients, such as isothiocyanates a breakdown product of glucosinolates, which are believed to exhibit anti-cancer and anti-carcinogenic activity.
Moringa Health Benefits
Morniga has been used to treat a host of illnesses for thousand of years in Ayurvedic medicine. There is science now behind some of the claims. Here are a few of the reported several health benefits of moringa beyond its nutritional value:
Moringa contains the antimicrobial chemical, benzyl isothiocyanate (BITC) which fights bacteria and other types of infections. Some studies suggest that BITC may kill H.pylori, the bacteria that cause duodenal ulcers and other gastric illnesses. An in-vivo (animal study) published by U.S. National Library of Medicine at the National Institute of Health found benzyl isothiocyanate inhibited breast cancer cells.
Animal studies on a compound in moringa have shown the potential for it to be a cancer preventative and to fight tumors. Phytochemical in moringa inhibited tumors in Burkitt’s lymphoma cell and skin tumors. Other research evidence suggests that specific phytochemicals in moringa root may help with other cancers, such as ovarian.
Lowers Blood Sugar
Women in a study who took seven grams of moringa leaf powder daily for three months reduced their fasting blood sugar levels by 13.5 percent. Other studies with diabetic patients also showed a reduction in blood sugar.
Anti-Inflammatory and Anti-Oxidant Properties
Flavonoids and phenolic acids in moringa have potent anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. In addition to vitamin C and beta-carotene, moringa leaves have the oxidative stress lowering phytochemical quercetin.
Oxidative stress is when the body is overloaded with free radicals and oxidants because the body cannot fight them off. Oxidative stress contributes to diseases like cancer, autoimmune disorders, aging, cataracts, heart disease, and others.
Natural Energy Boost
The high levels of iron make moringa a natural energizer without the highs and lows of caffeine and sugar. There is none of the jitters or sleeplessness as with caffeine. The energy boost from moringa is due to nutrients like the B-vitamins, magnesium, and potassium.
Other Moringa Health Benefits
Moringa is also said to help eliminate parasites, aid in healing colitis, and protect the liver. Moringa is known to stimulate hair growth. Moringa is used as a treatment for kidney stones and improve overall kidney function.
Other studies using laboratory rats show that moringa roots have analgesic and soporific properties that can help with pain and sleep, especially when used in conjunction with pharmaceutical remedies.
How to Take Moringa
Typically, in the U.S. moringa is usually drank as a tea or taken as a supplement. It comes in a powder form that is added to smoothies, soups, or juices. Moringa as an ingredient in baked goods provides additional nutrition. Some people plant moringa trees and pick the leaves fresh to be eaten raw or cooked like other dark green leafy vegetables.
It’s recommended to ease into taking moringa because it’s a natural product and the body needs to adapt.
Given the nutritional and medicinal benefits of moringa, the ease it can be cultivated, and that all the plant is edible, it is indeed a wonder food. As Noel Vietmeyer of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences said, ‘Although few people have ever heard of it today, moringa could soon become one of the world’s most valuable plants, at least in humanitarian terms.’ 
This information is for educational purposes only. Its intent is not to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease. The FDA does not monitor supplements or claims about their health benefits, such as moringa. Moringa can interfere with medications. As with all supplements or natural substances, check with your doctor first before taking them.
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Xiao, Dong, et al. Benzyl Isothiocyanate Causes Fox01-Mediated Autophagic Death in Human Breast Cancer Cells. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3310839/.
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