6 BENEFITS OF MORINGA & IS IT REALLY A SUPERFOOD?
Moringa oleifera, a possible superfood superstar
Moringa oleifera has gained rising popularity in the western world over the last few years, popping up in health food stores such as Holland & Barrett and even in Boots, and though it isn’t the most expensive acclaimed superfood powder or supplement on the market, I still had my curiosities about paying out for the next fad so I decided to get some first hand knowledge and also do some research.
Whilst Moringa originates in India, it is known to grow wildly across the world especially in tropical climates, and I first came to know of it whilst living in Ghana, West Africa. Those of the locals that still cherish the herbal earthy ways of using the earth to heal are familiar with the small tree, and during my last trip a close friend showed me how to recognise, harvest and prepare the Moringa leaves. Guaranteed organic, fresh and free! I was totally stoked and the bruja within me geeked at the opportunity to create this goodness straight from tree to tincture, tea or powder form. Superfood or not, it is definitely a great addition to a balanced diet, any excuse for healthy greens and extra vitamins and I’m there, but here is what I found out.
6 Benefits of Moringa oleifera
– Potential ability to Lower Fasting Blood Sugar Levels
By now most people are aware that having high blood sugar could implicate or lead to serious health issues, and is the mascot for Diabetes. Whilst in Ghana I was informed that Moringa was beneficial to consume to avoid Candida, a yeast overgrowth with is known to feed off of sugars. It was therefore interesting to read that whilst studies are, again, limited there have been a few which
show that Moringa oleifera may really help lower blood sugar levels.
One study observes 30 women consuming seven grams of Moringa leaf powder consistently for three months. The conclusion for the experiment saw reduced fasting blood sugar levels by 13.5%
Another study in six diabetic patients found that adding 50 grams of Moringa to a meal lowered the rise in blood sugar by 21%
Plant compounds in the Moringa leaves such as isothiocyanates are said to be responsible for these potential beneficial effects.
Whilst I didn’t check my blood sugar levels, I did feel that consuming Moringa Leaf tea on a daily basis did reduce my sugar cravings. Though this is no real study and could just be seen as something that affected me personally, I do see a correlation between reduced blood sugar levels which would mean less supply for candida growth and then reduced sugar cravings
– Reduces Inflammation
Though inflammation is a vital response of the body to injury or infection, long term inflammation can play a key role in the development of cancers and heart diseases. Anti-inflammatory herbs and supplements have also been quite the rage in the health foods industry which is another reason why Moringa may have be generating a buzz.
A Moringa leaves contain high levels of antioxidants and Flavonoids, such as quercetin, as well as beta-carotene, Vitamin C, and Chlorogenic acid, they could well help to reduce inflammation. With the reduction of inflammation in the body being linked to the reduction of blood sugar levels first, which as discussed in the point above, Moringa could likely help with the reduction of inflammation too.
The tests for this are limited to those done on animals usually in a laboratory setting and whilst they do conclude with anti inflammatory effects there is no current scientific evidence to support this is true for humans.
-Moringa Reduces Cholesterol
Human trials report that Moringa seems to be greatly beneficial at reducing levels of Cholesterol.
-Moringa is said to be beneficial for Breastfeeding Mothers
Another benefit I was interested to from my friend was it’s helping hand with keeping the milk flowing whilst breastfeeding. I didn’t find much in the way of studies. However I came across more reports from those who seem to use it as a nourishing herb. Women in the Philippines also seem to supplement with Moringa to initially amp up supply of milk when giving birth to preterm babies. Some companies selling Moringa in supplement form do advertise as a prenatal and whilst breastfeeding vitamin based on this belief.
– Antioxidant composition & abilities
My friend told me that it is believed Moringa is good for cleaning the blood, and with my own research confirming that Moringa contains high levels of Antioxidants, which are compounds naturally existing in our bodies and plants that help to ward off nasty free radicals before they can create any damage in our bodies. They travel through the bloodstream and into cells from where they actively act on removing waste.
Quercetin: An antioxidant acclaimed for its potential to lower blood pressure
Chlorogenic acid: Which may help moderate blood sugar levels after meals, and is also found in high amounts in coffee
Though there aren’t many, one study in women found that taking seven grams of Moringa leaf powder every day for three months significantly increased blood antioxidant levels, and many people who use food to maintain health have been using this for such reasons for generations and swear by its ability to increase blood anti-oxidation levels.
-Rich Nutrient Profile
Moringa has a dense and attractive nutrient profile, and with its ability to grow in abundance in various climates, it is quite a convenient and good staple option for those living in areas where malnutrition may be apparent, and is used widely in these regions for this reason.
One cup of fresh chopped leaves contain the following nutrients:
- Protein: 2 grams
- Vitamin B6: 19% of the RDA
- Vitamin C: 12% of the RDA
- Iron: 11% of the RDA
- Riboflavin (B2): 11% of the RDA
- Vitamin A (from beta-carotene): 9% of the RDA
- Magnesium: 8% of the RDA
So.. Is Moringa a Superfood?
What must be bared in mind here is that to benefit from the nutrients available in Moringa, one would need to consume a high amount of it. Note that gram for gram the comparison with say a banana, whilst Moringa would technically contain more Potassium, one would need a great volume to attain the equal benefits.
Some may use this to discredit it as a superfood. However, I would say that when herbs are incorporated into our daily lives for a nourishing intention -and not as an instant fix like we love in the West- the benefits of Moringa will be modestly helping to add to your nutrition. The incorporation of herbs is long term, a way of life and is a component of a rounded and well balanced diet. Taking the capsules won't make much of a difference to your own nutrient intake if you already have a good balanced diet, but use of the powder especially for those who do need aid, could attain the boost in nutrients over a period of time.
As we have access to a large variety of foods here, geographically/accessibility speaking, Moringa therefore may not really be the most dazzling of superfoods in our eyes. It is however in parts of the world that don’t have access to surplus fruit, veggies, supplements and health food shops all year round/ at all.
It should be noted that it is not advisable and potentially dangerous to consume any part of the plant other than the leaves. Though it is likely that you will have access to ready prepared Moringa and so may not face this hazard, it is important to note. Also, as with any understudied supplement, it may be advisable to speak to your health practitioner of choice prior to supplementation, especially if you are taking any medications or have any pre existing ailments or diseases.
-Moringa Advocates – Baobab Children Foundation
As an extra to the information in this post, I would like to take a moment to spread the word about Baobab Children’s Foundation based in Cape Coast, Ghana. They have not asked me to do this, but their love for Moringa was so evidently painted on all walls of their cafe and on most pages of their broad menu that I had to include them in this post. During my last trip to Ghana, my partner and I were on the lookout for great nutritious veggie based food and found ourselves at Baobab on a few occasions, even to stay at their charming guest house for a night. I have included a link which you can visit to see more about what they do and how much they love Moringa. Ghana loves Moringa, and Moringa clearly loves Ghana because it grows almost everywhere possible!
I hope you found this post informative and enjoyable. Let me know if you’ve ever tried Moringa and what your thoughts are on it.