Moringa may not be a household name, however, research is calling it the superfood of our century. Moringa is a plant that is often called the drumstick tree, the miracle tree, or the horseradish tree. The moringa tree has been used for edible and medicinal purposes in Southeast Asia and Africa for centuries.
Unlike most plants, the moringa is 100% edible. Meaning, the leaves, pods, flowers, and even the root are edible. The tree is packed with antioxidants, protein, vitamins and minerals that combat issues such as inflammation and numerous chronic diseases. The leaves are commonly tossed into salads, meat dishes, or are dried and ground into a powder.
The pods are like peas or Chinese long beans, and the seeds of the tree can be eaten raw or boiled to make salad oil. Its numerous parts make it an easy vegetable to incorporate into any dish
Benefit #1: Diabetes Prevention
One study done by UC Davis Veterinary Medicine found a link between moringa consumption and improved glucose tolerance. In this specific study, mice were fed a high fat diet and were also fed moringa. The results showed that despite the high fat consumption, the mice lost weight, had decreased blood sugar levels, and were less likely to develop fatty liver disease in comparison to those not fed moringa.
Benefit #2: Easy to Grow
Drought, poverty, and malnutrition are huge problems that are sweeping the world by storm, especially with global warming. One of the benefits of the moringa tree is how easy it is to grow. The tree can withstand harsh climates, can grow in sandy soil, and is also drought tolerant. In addition, it can grow fast and can do so year-round.
Benefit #3: Rich in Vitamins and Minerals
Moringa pods are packed with essential vitamins and minerals. In fact, in one cup of pods, 100 grams, provides you with 157% of your daily requirement for vitamin C. In addition to this, it is only 33 calories per cup, thus, making it not only a low-calorie food, but nutrient dense as well.
Benefit #4: Enhances Wound Healing
As mentioned before, the moringa tree has been used in Asian and African countries for centuries. One of the uses of the tree was to use for wounds and to reduce fevers. This led researchers to study if the tree does in fact have wound healing capabilities.
Benefit #5: Lowers Cholesterol
There are numerous aspects about heart disease that are not quite understood. One aspect that has been vigorously studied is the relationship between high LDL cholesterol levels and heart disease. Numerous studies have linked fruit and vegetable consumption to decreasing LDL levels, in effect decreasing one’s chances of heart disease.
Benefit #6: Water Purification
One very interesting benefit of the moringa tree is its capability to serve as a water purifier. This is especially beneficial to rural communities that have little to no access to a clean water supply.
Benefit #7: Protection Against Arsenic Toxicity
Arsenic poisoning is very common in areas with a poor water supply. As mentioned above, moringa seeds can act as a water purifier. In addition to this, the leaves and seeds of the moringa tree may have some protective effects of arsenic toxicity.
Benefit #8: Rich in Anti-Oxidants
The moringa tree is very high in numerous antioxidants. Antioxidants are very important because they act against free radicals in your body. Free radicals are harmful because they are highly reactive with other cellular structures as they contain unpaired electrons. Free radicals can cause DNA damage. Fortunately, the moringa tree is high in antioxidants to fight the effects of free radicals. One study in women revealed the simple consumption of 1.5 teaspoons of moringa powder a day for three months dramatically increased blood antioxidant levels. This is essential because antioxidants combat cancer, inflammation, and obesity.
Benefit #9: High in Iron
Iron deficiency is the most common cause of anemia. There are two forms of iron, non-heme and heme iron. Non-heme is more absorbable by the body and is only available in animal flesh. We get heme iron from plants. However, this form of iron is not as easily absorbable by our bodies. Thus, many times vegans and vegetarians become deficient for this reason. Moringa is a good source of iron. With 4 mg per 100 g, the plant has one of the highest amounts of iron in plants. Numerous studies revealed the plant to be a better source of iron in comparison to iron supplements.
Benefit #10: Fights Inflammation
Inflammation can lead to chronic diseases like diabetes, respiratory problems, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, and obesity. Moringa reduces inflammation by suppressing inflammatory enzymes and proteins in the body. And the moringa leaf concentrate can significantly lower inflammation in the cells.
Is It Safe?
The Bottom Line
Moringa oleifera is an Indian tree that has been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years. However, only a few of its many reputed health benefits have been studied scientifically.
To date, studies show that Moringa oleifera may lead to modest reductions in blood sugar and cholesterol. It may also have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects and protect against arsenic toxicity.
Moringa leaves are also highly nutritious and should be beneficial for people who are lacking in essential nutrients.
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