Have you heard of moringa? It’s not surprising if you haven’t because its popularity is only recently gaining steam. In fact, many who are familiar with moringa call it the “miracle tree.”
The moringa tree is cultivated mainly in South and Southeast Asia. Its leaves and its fruits, known as pods, have been consumed for centuries and are incredibly nutrient-dense. They contain plenty of vitamins and minerals such as vitamins C and A, calcium, potassium and iron, among other nutrients.
Moringa has all 18 essential amino acids, and it’s very high in antioxidants (1). Per gram, it contains a lot more nutrients than most other fruits and vegetables. All these nutrients come together to make moringa a potent superfood with many amazing properties.
What is moringa?
Let’s start with some history (and science!): Its scientific name is Moringa oleifera, and it is a distant relative of vegetables like broccoli, kale and cabbage, of which it shares many nutritious compounds.
It is cultivated mainly for its fruit, known as pods, and its leaves, both of which are regularly used in South and Southeast Asian food recipes. However, other parts of the moringa tree are also used. Moringa oil is extracted from the kernels that come from the tree. The roots, fruits, and bark are also edible. These have been used for centuries as food items or ingredients in traditional medicine.
The Food and Agriculture Organization acknowledges moringa as an “economically most valuable species” and called it “crop of the month” back in September 2014 (2). The moringa tree is a valuable resource for many regions of the world because almost every part of it is functional. The tree is also extremely drought-tolerant and grows quickly. The seeds, in particular, can naturally purify unclean water, an important feature especially for water-scarce regions of the world (3).
The history of this super functional tree dates back over 2,000 years. Ancient royal families consumed moringa for mental alertness, and some used it as a cosmetic to maintain a healthy complexion (4). Moringa leaf extract was used as a drink by ancient Indians, and it was given to their warriors who viewed it as an elixir that could give them extra wakefulness for battles.
Every part of the moringa tree continues to be used as a staple ingredient in traditional Ayurvedic medicine. Its use remains consistently popular throughout South Asia, as well as in Southeast Asia, both as a source of nutrition and as a healing food. Its cultivation has even spread to the western United States and Africa because of its potential as a sustainable food source for growing populations (5).
With its popularity surging in recent years, this raises the question: What’s so great about moringa anyway?
Nutritional profile of moringa
Moringa is a potent source of essential vitamins, minerals, amino acids, antioxidants, and phytochemicals. All of these combine to support moringa’s reputation as a superfood.
Moringa contains vitamins A, C, D and E, as well as B vitamins such as folic acid, pyridoxine, and nicotinic acid. Moringa is so vitamin-dense that it contains seven times more vitamin C than oranges and 10 times more vitamin A than carrots.
Moringa is packed with many beneficial minerals such as iron, calcium and potassium as well as many others. In fact, moringa contains 25 times more iron than spinach, 17 times more calcium than milk and 15 times more potassium than bananas.
Moringa contains 18 (of 20) amino acids, including all 9 of the essential amino acids not produced by the body; far more than most plant-based sources of protein. These include tryptophan, isoleucine, valine, and methionine and cysteine. All of these are vital for supporting the body’s health (6). Moringa is a good source of protein, containing nine times more protein than yogurt.
The richest part of the moringa tree is its leaves. These contain many antioxidants such as quercetin, kaempferol and dozens of others. These antioxidants work together to help the body combat oxidative stress (7).
The phytochemicals found in moringa – such as glucosinolates, isothiocyanates and glycoside compounds – have been found to have beneficial effects on the body.
All the vitamins, minerals, amino acids, antioxidants and phytochemicals found in moringa are spread out through the whole tree. From the roots to the leaves and the fruit, moringa is brimming with nutrients that have tons of therapeutic potential. Fortunately, a lot of the effects of consuming moringa have already been documented.
Health benefits of moringa**
The health benefits of moringa have been recorded, which further cements its popularity as a nutrient-dense superfood, especially in Asia and Africa. Moringa’s potent mix of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other nutrients give the tree a strong foundation for its reputation.
Moringa maintains your healthy cells against oxidative stress
Moringa is filled with antioxidants such as beta-carotene, quercetin, chlorogenic acid and various polyphenols. The fact that moringa has seven times more vitamin C than oranges makes it a potent way to combat the damage caused by oxidative stress.
Moringa supports a healthy immune system
The presence of the many vitamins and minerals in moringa, particularly the high levels of vitamins A and C, gives moringa the ability to support a person’s healthy immune system.
Moringa supports healthy heart function
Once again, the antioxidants in moringa prove their worth. The high antioxidant content in moringa, coupled with moringa’s unique phytonutrient makeup, has been shown to help maintain a healthy heart (8).
Moringa supports brain health
Vitamins C and E promote healthy brain and cognitive function. In addition, moringa’s exceptional antioxidant content has been found to help support the brain against damage caused by oxidative stress.
Moringa supports healthy digestion
Moringa has a strong history in Ayurvedic medicine as a traditional remedy for supporting healthy digestive functions. What’s more, a study published in the Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine found that the properties in moringa leaves can help support healthy digestion and regular bowel movements (9).
Moringa supports healthy liver function
Regular consumption of moringa can be beneficial to your liver. This is because its high polyphenol content can support the normal function of your liver and help your body combat free radicals (10). Not only that, but the antioxidants in moringa help the liver combat oxidative stress.
Moringa can maintain blood sugar levels already in the normal range
A study conducted in India and published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology investigated the effects of moringa leaves. They found that moringa may maintain blood sugar levels that are already within the normal range (11).
Moringa can support a sensible weight management plan
A study published in Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism: A Journal of Pharmacology and Therapeutics found that consumption of moringa-based products, combined with some calorie restriction and moderate physical activity, may support people’s weight management plans (12).
If you’re looking for a nutrient-rich food to support your natural and healthy plant-based diet, look no further than moringa. Be it the root, the bark, the leaves or the fruit, moringa can help you on your journey to your ideal body.
With all these benefits, there shouldn’t be any reason for you to not head out to the natural food store to grab some moringa. Do you know any other benefits from moringa consumption? Let us know in the comments below.
Share this article with your friends so they too can learn about this wonderful superfood.
**These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose any diseases.