Moringa oleifera is a fast-growing tree native to South Asia and now found throughout the tropics. Its leaves have been used as part of traditional medicine for centuries, and the Ayurvedic system of medicine associates it with the cure or prevention of about 300 diseases.
Moringa, sometimes described as the “miracle tree,” “drumstick tree,” or “horseradish tree,” has small, rounded leaves that are packed with an incredible amount of nutrition: protein, calcium, beta carotene, vitamin C, potassium… you name it, moringa’s got it. No wonder it’s been used medicinally (and as a food source) for at least 4,000 years.
The fact that moringa grows rapidly and easily makes it especially appealing for impoverished areas, and it’s been used successfully for boosting nutritional intake in Malawi, Senegal, and India. In these areas, moringa may be the most nutritious food locally available, and it can be harvested year-round.
Personally, I grew a moringa tree for two years and I can attest to the fact that it grows like a weed. For those living in third-world countries, it may very well prove to be a valuable source of nutrition.
However I don’t recommend planting one in your backyard for health purposes as the leaves are very small and it is a timely and exceedingly tedious task to harvest the leaves from the stem to eat them.
The leaves are tiny and difficult to harvest and use, so you’ll likely find, as I did, that growing one is more trouble than it’s worth. That being said, there is no denying that moringa offers an impressive nutritional profile that makes it appealing once it is harvested…
6 Reasons Why Moringa Is Being Hailed as a Superfood
1. A Rich Nutritional Profile
Moringa leaves are loaded with vitamins, minerals, essential amino acids, and more. One hundred grams of dry moringa leaf contains:
- 9 times the protein of yogurt
- 10 times the vitamin A of carrots
- 15 times the potassium of bananas
- 17 times the calcium of milk
- 12 times the vitamin C of oranges
- 25 times the iron of spinach
2. Antioxidants Galore
Moringa leaves are rich in antioxidants, including vitamin C, beta-carotene, quercetin, and chlorogenic acid. The latter, chlorogenic acid, has been shown to slow cells' absorption of sugar and animal studies have found it to lower blood sugar levels. As noted in the Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention:
“The leaves of the Moringa oleifera tree have been reported to demonstrate antioxidant activity due to its high amount of polyphenols.
Moringa oleifera extracts of both mature and tender leaves exhibit strong antioxidant activity against free radicals, prevent oxidative damage to major biomolecules, and give significant protection against oxidative damage.”
Further, in a study of women taking 1.5 teaspoons of moringa leaf powder daily for three months, blood levels of antioxidants increased significantly.