Moringa, from the Moringa oleifera tree, is a hardy plant that grows well in the hot climates of Southern Asia, South America, and Western Africa. Undernourishment is common in areas where moringa thrives, so several non-profit organizations have recently promoted the plant as an easy-to-grow source of nutrition. Now moringa is becoming popular in the United States, both as a supplement and an ingredient in foods and beauty products.
What are the nutritional benefits of moringa?
The moringa plant's leaves and seed pods pack a hefty nutritional punch. They're high in vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, potassium and protein. The nutritional comparisons in these 100-gram portions are astonishing:
- Moringa is three times higher in vitamin A than carrots (6780 mcg vs. 1890 mcg).
- The leaves contain seven times more vitamin C than oranges (220 mg vs. 30 mg).
- It has three times more calcium than milk (440 mg vs. 120 mg).
- The amount of potassium is three times higher than in bananas (259 mg vs. 88 mg).
Several studies that have been conducted on the benefits of the moringa plant have proven its usefulness as a hand-washing agent and as a water-purifying agent. Leaf extracts from the moringa plant may also have antioxidant and anti-diabetic properties, and some believe it may even help lower cholesterol.
Are there risks associated with moringa?
Most experts consider moringa a safe supplement, but this doesn't mean that everyone should consume it regularly, or at all. Moringa is high in calcium, potassium and iron, so consult with your doctor first to see if they recommend that you limit your intake of these minerals. If you suffer from kidney problems or are undergoing dialysis, you should avoid taking moringa.
Ways to take moringa
Moringa is available in various forms: whole leaves, whole seeds, powder, extract, capsules, and oil. Though moringa is most potent when eaten fresh, most people in the United States don't grow their own trees, and prefer convenient leaf powder or extract.
You can add moringa leaf powder to many foods, though be careful not to heat the powder above boiling, as excess heat will destroy some of its nutritive power. Add a spoonful of powder to a smoothie, mix a teaspoon into rice pilaf, or stir a scoop into a warm bowl of vegetable soup. Taking moringa capsules is also an option, but it does not provide the same amount of nutrients that a whole food will supply.
Would you like to try adding moringa to your health regimen? You may be able to find it at your local health food store, or buy it online from companies like Moringa Farms, Moringa Source and Miracle Trees.
NPR: The Marketing Of Moringa: Is This The New Kale?
Trees for Life: Moringa Nutritional Information
PubMed: Review of the Safety and Efficacy of Moringa oleifera