Have you heard about the health benefits of malunggay or scientifically known as moringa oleifera? This strange-sounding leaf powder supplement is one of the latest superfoods to recently gain attention in the West. It boasts a powerhouse of anti-inflammatory and healing compounds that benefits your heart, head, skin, and more.
This is because moringa is extremely high in nutrients that it can even beat carrots, oranges, and milk in it’s nutritional value making it one of the most nutrient packed plants in the world. Although the U.S. is just starting to catch up on this next superfood, Moringa, however, has already been used by other countries and cultures for centuries.
You may also know moringa oleifera as the drumstick tree, miracle tree, ben oil tree, and horseradish tree. It grows in most tropical and subtropical regions where the tree grows quickly and is also resistant to drought.
Want to find out more about the health benefits of malunggay? Read on to know what moringa is, moringa nutrition and what the benefits and risks are.
I. WHAT IS MALUNGGAY (Moringa Oleifera)
Malunggay is native to North India but is now also grown in Africa, Arabia, South East Asia, the Pacific, Caribbean Islands, and South America. It is known as the ‘miracle tree‘ since the leaves, fruit, sap, oil, roots, bark, seeds, and even the flowers of the tree have medicinal properties.
The tree is a light-green colored tree with an earthy or slightly bitter taste similar to arugula or green tea. It contains important compounds such as:
The research is backed from the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) that shows that each 10-gram (g) serving of moringa powder offers 150 (mg) of calcium which is 15% of one’s daily value, 2 (mg) of iron (11.11% daily value), and 160 (mg) of potassium (3.4% of DV). This means that moringa has:
- 9 times more protein than simple yogurt
- 10 times more Vitamin A compared to carrots
- 15 times more potassium than bananas
- 17 times more calcium than milk
- 50% more Vitamin C than oranges
- 25 times more iron than spinach
These anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds help to protect your performance and strengthen your body against multitude of diseases. So let’s take a look at some of the health benefits of this versatile plant.
II. Health Benefits of Malunggay
But before you start sprinkling moringa powder into your morning smoothie or adding its leaves to your favorite pasta sauce, it’s important to learn about its potential benefits, effects, and its risks. Here’s what science says.
1. Moringa Can Reduces Blood Sugar and Protects Against Diabetes
High blood sugar or hyperglycemia is a serious health problem that can damage the vessels that supply blood to our vital organs. If left unchecked, it can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke, kidney disease, vision problems, and nerve problems.
Interestingly in a small study of six people with diabetes, it was found that adding (50g) of Moringa leaves to their meals helped lower their blood sugar levels by 21%.
Scientists believe that these effects are caused by the plant compounds such as isothiocyanates (molecules found in vegetables that can reduce the activation of carcinogens and increase their detoxification).
2. Moringa May Reduce Inflammation
Inflammation is our body’s natural response to an infection or injury. It is an essential protective mechanism but it may also become a major health issue if it continues over a long period of time.
Most fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices have anti-inflammatory properties and moringa has also shown similar anti-inflammatory effects in humans.
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According to a contributing study of the anti-inflammatory activity of Moringa oleifera, it was found that moringa might be helpful in treating acute inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatic pain. Another study found that moringa reduced inflammation markers in mice, and also helped reduce obesity, insulin, and cholesterol.
3. Moringa Lowers Bad Cholesterol
Other than oats and flax seeds, moringa leaves are also a dependable remedy against high cholesterol. Bad cholesterol is at the top spot for causing people to suffer heart diseases and taking moringa have been shown to show considerable improvement against them.
4. Moringa May Help Protects The Liver
Moringa can greatly help those with tuberculosis. They reduce the negative effects of antitubercular drugs by accelerating the repair of the liver cells. The leaves also have a high concentration of polyphenols that protects and may even reduce the damage to the liver.
As the liver is the site for blood detoxification, and nutrient absorption, it can only properly function if the liver enzymes are normal. And moringa leaves can stabilize these liver enzymes.
5. Moringa Acts Against Free Radicals In The Body
Moringa oleifera is also rich in antioxidants that can act against free radicals in the body which is associated with diseases like heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and type 2 diabetes. They also have quercetin which is an antioxidant that can help stabilize blood sugar levels post meals.
6. Good for the Stomach
Moringa eaves are also extremely beneficials when fighting against digestive disorders. Those who suffer from frequent constipation, bloating, gas, and ulcerative colitis should add moringa leaves or powder into their diet.
This is because moringa contains high amounts of B vitamins and antibiotic and antimicrobial properties that are ideal in improving digestions.
7. Improves Bone Health
Moringa are also rich sources of calcium and phosphorus, which are key elements needed for good bone health. They can also combat arthritis, and fight osteoporosis by keeping bones strong.
8. Moringa Is An Antiseptic
Moringa leaves can also be considered as an antiseptic as it can be beneficial towards wound healing and helping to heal bruises, minor cuts, and burns by reducing the clotting time.
9. Improve Lactation
Since moringa are a rich source of protein, vitamins and other essential nutrients, moringa leaves are also very beneficial for the health of the mother and the baby. For breastfeeding mothers, it is undoubtedly one of the most amazing benefits of moringa is that it has been scientifically proven to increase breast milk supply.
Moringa leaves contain natural galactagogue which is a substance that promotes or increases the flow of a mother’s milk.However, please consult a doctor first before taking this supplement during pregnancy.
10. Improves Skin and Hair Condition
As moringa has an abundance of antioxidants and nutrients, moringa leaves can improve the health and appearance of skin and hair. They can contribute to the suppleness of the skin and the shine of the hair.
These antioxidants may even reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles on the skin. This is why moringa leaves are part of numerous cosmetics as they improve both the skin tone and add a glow to the face due to their purifying nature and therapeutic properties.
III. What Moringa Can Cure
There are claims that moringa can cure over 300 diseases and these aren’t just about minor ailments either. While these may sound speculative to some, we’ll answer the questions on what diseases can moringa cure and even help to prevent.
1. Moringa And Depression
It is estimated that 1 out of every 5 people can suffer from poor mental health at some point in our lives. Even at present, many people are suffering from both depression and anxiety and can be treated with a class of drugs that are known as SSRI’s (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors). But is moringa even good for depression?
A study on moringa effects on mice published by the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine showed that moringa has affected moringa acted in the same way as an SSRI and it even has fewer side effects.
2. Moringa And Herpes
The herpes virus has two distinct illnesses in humans, the simplex virus 1 and herpes simplex virus 2. Both of which are extremely contagious and can be readily passed by physical contact.
Using moringa for herpes is one of the most effective and natural remedies for simplex 1 symptoms. In the clinical studies published by the Antiviral Research in November 2003, tests showed that moringa produced significant effects in delaying the characteristic lesions associated with herpes.
3. Moringa For Psoriasis
Psoriasis is a chronic skin disease that affects the life cycle of skin cells, psoriasis causes cells to build up rapidly on the surface of the skin, forming thick and itchy, dry, red patches that are sometimes painful.
But psoriasis has also been found to increase the risk of cancer and well heart disease. However, modern research reveals that moringa contains a bioactive compound such as moringine and thiocarbamates, all of which can help induce healthy skin in psoriasis patients.
4. Moringa for Asthma
Moringa leaves are also known to help reduce the severity of some asthma attacks, one study from the Indian Journal of Pharmacology showed that moringa asthma patients showed a significant increase in hemoglobin values and Erythrocyte sedimentation rate was significantly reduced.
Treatment with the drugs derived from moringa’s seed kernel produced great improvements in lung capacity with no adverse effect recorded. This suggests that moringa could be extremely beneficial to sufferers of asthma and other bronchial diseases.
5. Moringa and Lupus
Lupus is an autoimmune disease which often affects the joints, skin, blood, and kidneys. Although there is no known cure for this condition. Doctors have shown evidence that moringa can alleviate it’s symptoms.
The Moringa trees and leaves have plenty of benefits, and the medical science is beginning to take notice. It is already known that moringa oleifera has been very effective for hypertension treatments but could such powerful immune system boosting qualities can also cure HIV/AIDS?
Although there is evidence that moringa helps to boost our immune systems and with it also reduces the mortality rates and improved health for HIV-positive and AIDS patients, research is still ongoing.
IV. Moringa Benefits for Men
Moringa already has spectacular benefits for one’s health but it doesn’t stop there. As we’ve understood, moringa gives more overall energy to the body. It improves our blood circulation that may also be beneficial in improving the sexual functions for men.
So why is moringa beneficial to men?
1. May Promote Prostate Health
Moringa oleifera is rich in sulfur containing compounds called glucosinolates which may have anticancer properties. In test-tubes studies, these compounds can inhibit the growth of human prostate cancer cells.
2. May Alleviate Erectile Dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction is the inability to keep an erection that is firm enough for intercourse.The condition often happens when there’s a problem with the blood flow to the penis which may result from high blood pressure, high levels of fat in the blood and other conditions such as diabetes.
Moringa contains beneficial plant compounds such as polyphenols which may enhance the blood flow to the male sexual organ while decreasing blood pressure.
3. May Improve Fertility
About 20%-30% of men contribute to the infertility problems around the globe. Reasons for this can come from having reduced sperm production and problems with sperm motility.
But as moringa oleifera are an excellent source of minerals like iron, calcium, and zinc. These minerals are major factors in the connection between moringa and sperm production can help combat oxidative damage that interferes with sperm production and damages sperm DNA.
V. Side Effects of Moringa
Of course, moringa still has some safety concerns that one needs to be aware of. Take note of them below:
- Pregnant women should avoid moringa oleifera since it has some uterine stimulating effects which can cause the uterus to contract when it’s not supposed to.
- Even though the tree is highly nutritious, eating too much of the recommended dosage may instead cause genotoxicity. Although the dosage would need to go over 3-4 times the recommended amount to actually cause some side effects. Experts recommend between half to one teaspoon per day would be it’s normal dosage.
- There is concern that using moringa might make people with an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) can make the situation worse.
- Be cautious with combining Levothyroxine and moringa. Levothyroxine is used for low thyroid function. Moringa might decrease how much levothyroxine your body absorbs. Taking moringa along with levothyroxine might decrease the effectiveness of levothyroxine.
Some brands that contain levothyroxine include Armour Thyroid, Eltroxin, Estre, Euthyrox, Levo-T, Levothroid, Levoxyl, Synthroid, Unithroid, and others.
- Lastly, moringa is also rich in iron. So avoid taking in too much as it can cause gastrointestinal distress and may induce the opposite effect such as nausea, vomiting, and constipation.
VI. How to Use Moringa Powder
You can get the full health benefits of malunggay in it’s powder form. It is also referred to as the multivitamin shot where just two or three spoonfuls of these powder provides a substantial amount of iron, calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin C.
However, how else can we use moringa powder? One can use moringa into any dish or drink that could benefit from a sprinkling of spinach greens.
- You can use this to sprinkle onto your salads, eggs, roasted veg, pasta and risotto.
- One can also bake this with savoury bread, brownies, muffins and cookies.
- Stir it into your soups, dips, sauces, casseroles and stews.
- And Shake it into apple juice, coconut water, and salad dressings.
Moringa powder can definitely be added to just any food or beverage. However, as the moringa pwoder’s nutrients decrease when exposed to heat, make sure to add the powder after the food or drink has already been prepared, or just before serving.
Here’s a Moringa Banana Chocolate Smoothie recipe to get you started.
This recipe is so velvety and cocoalicious that it can even double up as a dessert. Did you know that banana, avocado, and dates blend really well together? And you can get an ultra creamy texture that’s sugar-free.
1/2 tsp Moringa Powder
2 tbsp Cacao Powder
1 1/2 cups non-dairy milk
Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. You can also serve with a sprinkling of cacao nibs if you want.
Moringa, Ginger & Apple Green Juice
If you want to stay clear of chocolate and dairy by juicing your fruit and vegetables, it is a great way to get a quick and concentrated hit of nutrition. Here’s how to prepare one.
1 tsp Moringa Powder
thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger
4 sticks of celery
A handful of spinach
Don’t forget to wash all fruit and veggies thoroughly and put them through a juicer. Stir in moringa just before serving.
Moringa Preservation Methods
Though you can buy it as a powder, pill, oil, or tea, supplements and powders made from moringa aren’t regulated by the FDA. For the leaves, moringa can be preserved for a long time without loss of nutrients by drying them or freezing.
The drying can be easily done using economical household appliances like a stove to retain its nutrients. And preservation through dehydration improves the shelf like without change in nutritional value.
For the seeds, it must be stored in an open air container and away from direct sunlight. Make sure to keep it far from humid areas and beware of insects or mice that could damage its integrity.
Moringa oleifera provides an extremely dense punch of nutrition. Together with it’s anti-oxidative properties combined with anti-inflammatory properties, it makes them a new superfood.
However, just adding moringa to a smoothie won’t make you instantly healthier. You still need to exercise and have a well-balanced diet.
While it isn’t necessary to consume moringa daily, it can reap the same benefits of those nutrients. If you do decide to add moringa to your daily intake, be sure to know what you’re purchasing and how much you will be consuming. Also, it is important to tell your doctor if you ever begin to experience any issues with side effects.