What is Moringa?
Moringa Oleifera Lam (MO) is a small size tree with approximately 5-to-10-meter height. Every part of Moringa is used for a specific nutritional and medicinal purpose which is why it was called the "Miracle Tree."
It has been used to fight against malnutrition, especially among young ones and lactating mothers. Besides being a good source of protein, vitamins, oils, fatty acids, and minerals, it is also anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant.
Native to North India, Moringa is grown in Africa, Arabia, South East Asia, the Pacific and Caribbean Islands, and South America.
Moringa Nutritional Value
One aspect that scientists have examined is the nutritional value of Moringa leaves. In fact, they contain large amounts of several essential nutrients than the common foods often associated with these nutrients.
Moringa is a good source of iron, beta-carotene, potassium, and calcium. In dried powder form, the leaves can retain their nutritional value for years. Moringa leaves also contain all nine essential amino acids, making them a source of complete protein. It is very rare for a vegetable to have all of these amino acids.
Moringa even contains arginine and histidine, two amino acids essential for infants. (1)
1- Moringa and Immunity
One of the best Moringa benefits is its super immune-boosting powers.
Maintaining a healthy immune system is essential for helping our bodies stave off infections. Moringa leaves are a rich source of iron and vitamin A, both of which are essential for the normal function of the immune system.
2- Moringa and Cardiovascular Health
Moringa is packed with antioxidants (2) and fiber, making it an excellent addition to a healthy heart diet. It may even help protect the heart and lower blood pressure through its antioxidant properties.
Antioxidants fight against oxygen-free radicals, which can contribute to cholesterol build-up and inflammation. Studies suggest Moringa may help reduce the number of free radicals, improve the heart's function, and prevent the accumulation of lipid peroxides that cause cell damage.
Fiber also contributes to a healthy heart by improving bowel movement, lowering cholesterol, reducing the risk of stroke and diabetes, lowering blood pressure, and maintaining a healthy weight. A single serving of Moringa contains 12% of your daily need for fiber, making it an excellent choice for a heart-healthy diet.
3- Moringa and Iron-Deficiency Anemia
Moringa is an excellent source of iron for people with anemia. (3)
Anemia is when the blood doesn't have enough healthy red blood cells or hemoglobin to transport oxygen to the body's cells. It can result in fatigue and shortness of breath.
Recent studies suggest Moringa leaves help facilitate iron absorption, increase red blood cell count, and maintain normal blood parameters. Like other leafy vegetables, Moringa leaves contain high non-heme iron levels (the type of iron found in plants).
Ten grams of Moringa leaf powder provides an excellent source of iron.
4- Moringa As Anti-inflammatory Agent
Moringa leaves contain potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which may help reduce inflammation.
Inflammation is a result of oxidative stress in the body caused by environmental and dietary contributors. Antioxidants, such as polyphenols found in Moringa scavenge free radicals in the body that cause oxidative stress and damage, ultimately reducing inflammation and preventing cell damage.
Indirect antioxidants, such as the isothiocyanates, stimulate detoxification pathways in the body, promoting long-lasting anti-inflammatory and cell-protective effects. (4)
So, Moringa helps lessen the effects of diseases associated with chronic inflammation and immune-related conditions such asthma, arthritis, and allergic reactions.
5- Moringa and Gut Health
Moringa is a wonderful superfood for the gut and overall health as it contains nutrients, fiber, and phytochemicals. These compounds, including polyphenols and isothiocyanates, have been shown to promote gut health by stimulating beneficial bacteria and suppressing pathogenic bacteria. (5)
Furthermore, the anti-inflammatory properties of these compounds help reduce inflammation of the gut wall, thus improving the integrity of the wall to inhibit the passage of toxins into the bloodstream.
Compounds found in Moringa have also been associated with improved gut homeostasis, management of inflammatory bowel syndrome, and a decreased risk of colon cancer and infections.
Safety and Side Effects
Research suggests that Moringa is safe to consume by almost everyone, but the safe quantity can vary from person to person.
There are circumstances where you should take precautions, as with pregnant or breastfeeding women; also, it may not be suitable for those with diabetes because of its effects on blood sugar.
It's always better to consult with your doctor first.
- Moringa oleifera leaf improves iron status of infants 6-12 months in Nigeria: International Journal of Food Safety, Nutrition and Public Health: Vol 2, No 2 (inderscienceonline.com)
- The in vitro and ex vivo antioxidant properties, hypolipidaemic and antiatherosclerotic activities of water extract of Moringa oleifera Lam. leaves - PubMed (nih.gov)
- Full article: Evaluation of Moringa oleifera Aqueous Extract for Antinociceptive and Anti-Inflammatory Activities in Animal Models (tandfonline.com)
- The Beneficial Effects of a Polysaccharide from Moringa oleifera Leaf on Gut Microecology in Mice | Journal of Medicinal Food (liebertpub.com)