When people are looking to turn their healthy lifestyle from an interest into a commitment, often times they’re looking for that one perfect ingredient to bring the whole enterprise together. It has to have the nutrients to make up for deficiencies, deliver hard-to-get yet essential minerals, and be easy to consume.
Unfortunately, there’s no perfect ingredient – if there were, it would be a lot easier to stick to a diet! Fortunately, many foods make your commitments a lot easier, providing a nutritional boost that is both effective and easy to take. Moringa leaf powder is one of them, providing plant-based nutrition that can help when one is deficient in important nutrients.
What Is Moringa Leaf?
Moringa Oliefera, also known as the drumstick or horseradish tree, is one of the 13 species of Moringa (and will be referred to here on out as the Moringa leaf, because it’s the most cultivated). This species is native to the sub-Himalayan region in India and Pakistan, but it’s drought-resistant and fast-growing properties have allowed it to thrive in hot, dusty locales around the world.
The entire plant is edible, but the most nutritious part is the leaves. Their power has made them an integral part of traditional healing, dating back to Ancient Egypt, where healers used the oil for cosmetic and skincare purposes. The Ayurveda medicine tradition holds that the Moringa leaves can cure or prevent over 300 different diseases, and traditional Siddha healers in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu have used it in their healing methods.[i] The tree’s seeds are even being used to clean water in places where drinking water is often unsafe![ii] This reputation on its own would be good news, but for many people in subtropical areas, its versatility has been a blessing: in arid environments ravaged by drought, Moringa leaf provides year-round relief from malnutrition, and for nursing children and mothers, it’s used to promote lactation and boost the immune system.[iii] [iv]
In short, Moringa leaf is a source of key nutrients for many around the wor
ld, but is now just coming to our attention here in North America. What’s really in it?
What’s The Nutritional Profile of Moringa Leaf?
Moringa leaf is, to put it mildly, a great source of just about everything. It contains over 90 nutrients, a complete profile of the nine essential amino acids that make up protein,[v] preventative phytochemicals, and antioxidants.[vi] The latter are found mostly in fruits and vegetables, and the amount found in Moringa leaf has been found to be therapeutic, helping to prevent oxidation, protect cells and their macromolecular components (protein, DNA, and good fats), and fight free radical damage.
Moringa leaves contain high amounts of vitamins A, C, and minerals like potassium, calcium, and iron. [vii] [viii] These levels are so high that gram-for-gram, it contains more vitamin C than oranges, more potassium than bananas, more iron than spinach, and more protein than milk or eggs.[ix] Of course, because you’re not consuming Moringa leaf as a whole here in Canada, gram-for-gram comparisons with other foods don’t sketch a true picture of its benefits. However, using it to complement a healthy diet can improve the amount of nutrients you’re ingesting, and can be a great booster for the supplement-wary among us.
Moringa Leaf and Your Health
Adding the nutritional power of the Moringa as a nutrient booster can sustain health and well-being. More than just the aforementioned protection from oxidative damage, which protects against infections and degenerative inflammation,[i] the nutrient-rich Moringa can lower cholesterol levels and help reduce heart disease. Animal studies have shown that Moringa has a “hypolipidemic effect”[ii], as it can help lower the lipid or fat levels in the blood. Scientific research also seems to point to Moringa being effective at reducing blood glucose levels and helping those with diabetes.[iii]
Chronic inflammation is a problem that can manifest itself in many different ways, causing or worsening heart disease, degenerative brain diseases, and joint problems. Studies have shown that all parts of the Moringa Oliefera plant have immunosuppressive capabilities that can reduce inflammation in the body,[iv] and using it to supplement your diet with important nutrients can help your body overcome chronic inflammation.
Moringa comes in very easy to use forms. The roots taste very similar to horseradish (giving it the colloquial name mentioned above) but most Moring leaf powder you’ll find on the market come flavoured or in capsules. Without flavouring, it generally has a mild, earthy taste that some enjoy, but can just as easily be masked with other natural ingredients. Add it to a morning smoothie, drink it as a tea with a little honey, or mix it into an omelet.
If you’re new to Moringa leaf, just make sure to start slowly; too much at once can have laxative effects, so start with half a teaspoon to a teaspoon and work up slowly.