Meet Moringa: The Next Big Superfood

With seven times more vitamin C than oranges and four times more calcium than milk, moringa is touted as the plant that may help end world hunger.

| May / June 2018

  • The moringa tree is fast-growing; its leaves are highly nourishing; and it is native to the parts of the world where malnutrition is a serious threat.
    Photo by Adobe Stock/Luis Echeverri Urrea
  • Even the flowers from the moringa tree are edible; those familiar with them say that fried, they taste like mushrooms.
    Photo by Adobe Stock/Swapan
  • The "ben oil" pressed from moringa seeds can be used in cooking, as a machinery lubricant, and as a base for beauty products.
    Photo by Adobe Stock/todja
  • Moringa can reach 35 feet tall in its first year.
    Photo by Stocksy/Canan Czemmel
  • Moringa may grow to be a source of health and nourishment for those in the world who need it most.
    Photo by Adobe Stock/Jochen Binikowski
  • Used as an ancient medicinal, today moringa might fight inflammation, depression, heart disease, insulin resistance, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, and more.
    Photo by Adobe Stock/frank29052515

We’ve all heard that food is the best medicine, and when it comes to Moringa oleifera, known as “moringa” or the "Miracle Tree,” the adage has never been more accurate. This little-known plant packs a serious nutritional punch. It’s fast-growing, nourishing, and native to parts of the world where malnutrition is a serious threat. Because it’s bursting with protein, potassium, calcium, and vitamins, this powerhouse superfood could help end hunger worldwide. Moringa was used medicinally in ancient India, Egypt, Greece, and Rome, and modern studies praise the plant’s ability to fight inflammation, heart disease, insulin resistance, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and many other conditions.

Introducing Moringa

Native to the southern foothills of the Himalayan Mountains as well as parts of Africa, moringa is a deciduous, fast-growing tree that can reach a height of 35 feet and will produce flowers and fruit within its first year. Its narrow branches hold pale-green, feathery leaves, and white or cream-colored flowers bloom in fragrant clusters. While the trees are highly adaptable to inhospitable conditions, they thrive in tropical and sub-tropical climates.

Moringa leaves, which have a biting flavor much like arugula, have the most nutritional benefits and can be consumed fresh, cooked, or dried and then powdered. The young seed pods, flowers, seeds, and roots can also be eaten in moderation. Those familiar with the tree report that the flesh and seeds of the long, tender, drumstick-shaped pods taste like sweet green beans; the flowers taste like mushrooms when fried; and the root has a spicy, horseradish-like flavor.

The beauty of the moringa tree comes not only from its various culinary uses, but also from its versatility outside the kitchen. Moringa leaves can supplement livestock feed. The oil pressed from moringa seeds, called “ben oil” because of its high behenic acid content, can be used in cooking, as a lubricant for machinery, or as a base for beauty products. The branches are a source of firewood, while the fibrous bark can be stripped and turned into ropes and woven mats. Perhaps most amazing, crushed moringa seeds have proven useful as a coagulant that helps purify drinking water. (The Moringa oleifera Cationic Protein, or MOCP, kills some of the harmful organisms in contaminated water and then causes them to clump together and settle at the bottom of a container, rendering the rest of the water safe to drink.)



A Nutritious Superfood

Few foods are as nutritious as moringa. As such, in the fight against malnutrition, it’s exceedingly fortunate that the moringa tree grows naturally in the areas of the world with the most food insecurity. Drought-tolerant, fast-growing, and almost entirely edible, moringa already stands out, but its availability would mean nothing if it didn’t contain a jaw-dropping host of health benefits. Moringa is packed with vitamins A, C, and E, all of which are important to immune responses. Vitamins C and E also help fight free radicals, protecting healthy cells and tissues.

One of the most important health benefits of this potent plant is its amino acid content. The human body needs amino acids to create proteins, break down food, and repair tissue damage, among other things. Usually, amino acids are found only in meat, eggs, certain dairy products, and alternative plant sources, such as soy. However, Moringa oleifera contains 17 of the 20 amino acids. This includes all of those considered “essential” amino acids that can't be manufactured by the body and can only be obtained through food.

missy
4/19/2019 8:49:22 AM

I'm with Don Reese Where can I find nursery stock for this tree that is reputable. Making sure to get the correct species. I'm so interested. Where is a good place to start. Thank you for your time. God bless. Missy


donreese
4/18/2019 7:25:25 PM

Where can I buy some stock to plant on my farm


Susan
4/22/2018 8:48:07 AM

Nuts.com has organic Moringa Powder. I like this company, it is a small family owned company and has many organic products and things that are unusual like coffee cherry flour and are hard to find.




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