Move over salt and pepper—it’s time to make room for an all-green, nutrient-rich, super-food seasoning. Moringa, a plant long used in India and other parts of the world for its medicinal qualities, is increasing in popularity worldwide. There are a few reasons for this:
- It can be broken down into a powder form while maintaining its nutrients, making it more accessible to people all over the world
- It’s incredibly easy to use and can be incorporated into almost any meal or drink
- More people are becoming aware of its incredible healing powers and health benefits
History of Moringa
The healing powers of Moringa Tree, also known as the “Horseradish Tree” or “Drumstick Tree,” is not a newly discovered secret. For thousands of years, people all across India, southwest Asia, parts of Africa and possibly even ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt have been using various parts of this plant to nourish their bodies, cure ailments, and promote long and healthy lives.
Benefits can be derived from virtually every part of the Moringa Tree, making it one of the most valuable species of plant for people in these regions. Leaves are used for teas and foods; dried moringa seeds can be altered to clarify water; and seed oil can be used as moisturizer and anti-aging cream.
What makes this tree truly miraculous, though, is its ability to maintain its extremely high nutrient values when dried and pressed into powder form. This means that people from every corner of the world can benefit from its magical healing powers.
Health Benefits of Moringa
Moringa leaf extracts is packed with vitamins and minerals—a super food by its fullest definition—and is also extremely low in caloric index. It contains Vitamins A through E, beta-carotene, pyridoxine and nicotinic acid. It’s also rich in important minerals such as calcium, potassium, zinc, magnesium, iron and copper. One serving of Moringa powder contains 1,000 times more calcium than a glass of milk, 14 times more iron than beef, and has enough zinc to fulfill the daily diet requirement. It’s no wonder why people are increasingly sprinkling this green powder into their diets and why it’s being used to combat epidemics of malnutrition across the world.
Though listing its nutritional content is quite impressive on its own, what does it actually mean? What issues and ailments are these super-concentrated, vitamin and mineral-rich plants combating? Here’s a list of some of the most common reasons people are using Moringa:
To reduce inflammation
Inflammation is a normal response from your immune system when you experience an injury of sorts, but chronic inflammation is believed to be a leading cause of many autoimmune diseases, allergies, heart disease, chronic pain and even cancer. Moringa leaf concentrate has anti-inflammatory properties and is known to significantly lower inflammation by suppressing inflammatory enzymes and proteins in the body. Instead of taking drugs or steroids that could lead to other health issues, people are turning to Moringa for a safer, more natural alternative.
To fight free radicals (aging)
Free radicals are atoms or molecules with an unpaired electron that often attack the proteins that are responsible for your skin’s defensive barriers. This means that too many free radicals can lead to wrinkles, dullness in color, loss of elasticity, and excessive dryness. These unstable atoms can also attack DNA, which can potentially lead to cancer.
To fight and prevent cancer
Recent studies have found that Moringa may have the potential to reduce or eliminate cancerous cells and tumors. More studies still need to be conducted, but the current findings are agreeing with holistic medical practitioners who have long recognized Moringa for its cancer-fighting abilities. Because the Moringa plant is also known to reduce your body’s inflammation and fight free radicals, both believed to lead to cancer, it can be used as a preventative for cancer. Moringa can also benefit patients who are undergoing chemotherapy by boosting the body’s immune system, which is significantly weakened due to treatment. By providing large quantities of nutrients in small doses, Moringa helps patients who are sick from the injections and may not be able to stomach large, substantial meals.
To lower blood sugar levels
Studies are still early on, but it is suggesting that Moringa may have the power to reduce blood sugar levels, a common catalyst for diabetes and heart disease. Adding this powder to your meal may reduce the rise in blood sugar, and having a consistent Moringa regiment can reduce the overall fasting blood levels (the amount of sugar in your blood before you eat).
To protect the cardiovascular system
Just as Moringa has been shown to prevent or reduce the effects of Diabetes, it is also shown to prevent heart disease, one of the leading causes of death in the United States and Canada. Moringa can help reverse the effects of plaque buildup caused by bad cholesterol, and thus reduce your risk of heart attacks and heart disease.
To boost the immune system
A healthy immune system is the single, most vital part of fighting off any disease, illness or infection. Moringa contains loads of antioxidants and amino acids that are known to improve the body’s overall immunity.
How to Incorporate Moringa into Your Diet
Unless you live in a sub-tropical climate where Moringa trees thrive, you’ll likely be using a powder form that you’ve purchased online from your favourite Moringa provider. But, before you start sprinkling it into every meal and mixing it into all of your smoothies, keep in mind that Moringa leaf powder is a very powerful and potent substance—it takes seven pounds of fresh leaves to create only one pound of powder. Most people eat between one teaspoon to one tablespoon per day, some eat a lot more than that. To find your perfect mix, we recommend starting off with a smaller amount, half of a teaspoon or one teaspoon of Moringa powder, and gradually increasing until you find your sweet spot. Moringa should not cause nausea or diarrhea, so if you experience slight onsets of either, you may want to reduce your daily intake.
Here are some popular ways to add Moringa into your meals:
Drop a teaspoon or two into your blender along with some fresh or frozen fruits, ice and liquids. You can go tropical by pairing it with pineapples and orange juice, or take a sweeter route with bananas, cacao and almond milk. Because you’ll need such a small amount, you likely won’t even notice the Moringa’s presence in your cup of freshly smoothed goodness. For more moringa recipes check out our blog.
As a seasoning:
Just sprinkle it on. You can add a dusting of Moringa over your salads, buddha bowls, vegetarian lasagnas—anything, really. Moringa has a green and spinachy taste, adding a nice earthy flavour to any dish. Keep a jar of it next to your spice rack to remind you to get your days’ worth of Moringa in. Just make sure you add it after your food is cooking or at the very end. Putting too much heat on Moringa can reduce its nutritional value.
As a Tea:
Moringa tea has been consumed for thousands of years, so if you can get your hands on some Moringa Oleifera leaves, why not try it out. Boil one-part Moringa leaves to three-parts water and voila—you have a nutrient-packed hot tea. Add lemon and honey to sweeten it up or enhance the taste. Click here to discover all the varieties of mroinga teas.
In Salad Dressings:
Making a salad dressing doesn’t have to be complicated. Mix two-parts olive oil to one-part Moringa powder and add a healthy dose of lemon juice to taste. You can even experiment mixing other seasonings along with your Moringa if you’re looking to add some variety (but we think just the Moringa will give a nice earthy flavour to whatever you’re drizzling the dressing over).
Make it into a paste for your skin:
Remember, Moringa is great at fighting free radicals—those pesky things that cause wrinkles, breakouts and more. You can reduce these aging effects by applying Moringa straight to your face. Mix half a tablespoon of Moringa with one tablespoon of rose water, one tablespoon of honey and half a tablespoon of lemon juice until you get a nice, thick paste. Then spread it on your face, let it soak in for about 10 minutes, and wash off.
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Side Effects and Safety Warnings of Moringa
Negative side effects of Moringa are rare, but they can happen. Most side effects are a result of taking too much Moringa too quickly. When you get your bottle of Moringa powder, start slow. If you do experience nausea, diarrhea or heartburn, reduce your intake and try mixing it with food. It’s also important to avoid consuming the roots of the Moringa or its extracts, as it’s believed to contain toxic substances.
The biggest warnings about Moringa, however, are for women who are pregnant, trying to become pregnant or nursing. Moringa is believed to have anti-fertility effects and has even been used as a form of birth control in different parts of the world. Women who are trying to become pregnant should avoid using Moringa altogether. On the contrary, Moringa is shown to improve sperm count and quality in men.
Moringa should also be avoided while pregnant. Studies have shown that it can cause uterine contractions, which will likely lead to a miscarriage. It is very important that women who are pregnant, or hoping to become pregnant avoid adding Moringa to their diets.
As for breastfeeding mommas, there’s a bit of controversy. Moringa is believed to help women produce more breastmilk, and has commonly been used by those who have experienced issues lactating. Though, there is not enough research to determine if the Moringa has a positive or negative effect on the infant digesting the milk; so for now, it’s recommended to avoid it if you are breastfeeding.
As with any major diet change or regime, it’s best to consult with your traditional or holistic medical practitioner first.
What’s your favourite way of consuming moringa and in what ways has it benefited you? Comment below!