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Have you ever heard of a single plant so packed with vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, that every part of it – from the leaves and branches to the seeds and stalks – is used to combat malnutrition? Let’s delve a bit into Moringa Oleifera, aka “The Miracle Plant.
The Moringa Oleifera plant, also known as “The Tree of Life” has been awarded such a lofty name for good reason. Recognized by many as the “drumstick tree” due to the hard, stick-like immature seed pods that it produces, this plant has become legendary in Asia and Africa for its nutritional and medicinal properties. Originating from the Himalayan mountains of northwestern India, the moringa tree has been used for thousands of years for everything from perfume manufacturing in ancient Egypt, to a staple ingredient for soups in the Philippines, to one of the main superfoods used to combat malnutrition in South America, Asia, and Africa.
Due to its accelerated growth and drought-resistant make-up, moringa trees are harvested year-round and are the ideal food solution for drought-prone, poverty-stricken areas like Zambia. Other African countries like Benin and Senegal actually use moringa to sustain children who are deprived of breast milk. It was awarded the Traditional Crop of the Month in September 2014 after its value was recognized by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
You’re probably wondering what’s in this plant that makes it potentially able to wipe out starvation in places where the threat is imminent. A relative of the Moringaceae plant family, the raw leaves don’t have much of an odor, but when eaten release a sweet and spicy, almost electrifying tingle to your taste buds. This may be the result of its richness in calcium, zinc, iron, magnesium, copper, and potassium as well as vitamin A, vitamin B complex, and vitamin C to name a few. Studies have revealed that when eaten raw, the leaves produce four times more vitamin A than carrots, three times the potassium of bananas, seven times more vitamin C than oranges, and four times the calcium of regular milk. According to The International Tree Foundation, when the leaves of the moringa tree are dried, it increases the nutritive content exponentially, providing 17 times more calcium than milk, 15 times the potassium than bananas, and 25 times more iron than spinach. With these credentials, I’d say it puts “The Tree of Life” in a league of its own.
Health Benefits of Moringa
In what other ways does this phenomenal plant benefit the human body? Citing from an in-depth research article posted on MedCrave, the plant possesses an abundance of phytochemicals, which are chemical compounds present in plants that have medicinal abilities.
Ayurvedic medicine practices have found moringa to cure as many as 300 diseases. A high vitamin-C content makes it ideal for combating the flu and other infections. Following a study report posted on the Health Line website, the excess of antioxidants in the Oleifera plant fights against free radicals in the body, thereby lowering the risk of cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. It also boosts the immune system, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, and reduces inflammation. It’s also especially beneficial to lactating mothers, due to properties that promote estrogen production which stimulates the mammary gland ducts responsible for producing breast milk.
But Nature’s gift keeps on giving! The freshly-picked leaves have been shown to cure anemia, gastric ulcers, diarrhea, and to generally improves digestive health. So the next time a nasty stomach virus is in the air, try a few capsules of powdered moringa.
How Moringa is Distributed
Although the moringa plant has been in existence for centuries, knowledge of its wide-reaching benefits only reached the mainstream in the United States around 2013/2014. A native to tropical climates, Moringa has grown wild in the Caribbean and Central and South America, in addition to its countries of origin like India, Southeast Asia, and Africa.
According to sources, the moringa tree was introduced to Hawaii in 2010 with the intent of cultivating and distributing it to America. Once harvested, the leaves are kept away from direct sunlight, washed, and naturally shade-dried. After the drying stage, it is ground to a powdery form and packaged in capsules, bottle containers, or plastic packages. The seed pods are also dried and packaged using the same process. Moringa oil extract, taken from the seed pods, are also manufactured for distribution.
The Moringa Oleifera tree can be considered one of the wonders of nature. Add it to a smoothie, or as an ingredient to your sauteed veggies or green salad; the possibilities are endless. Did I forget to mention it’s also an excellent dietary supplement and reduces fat formation for those aiming to lose weight? All in all, this nutrient powerhouse plant seems to live up to the hype.
Photo: David E Mead via Wikimedia Commons