Moringa - The Benefits
Compared to other superfoods, moringa is a nutritional powerhouse.
• Seven times more vitamin C than oranges
• 10 times more vitamin A than carrots
• A whopping 17 times more calcium than milk
• Nine times more protein than yogurt
• 15 times more potassium than bananas
• 25 times more iron than spinach
It is also rich in vitamins B1, B2, B3, and E, phosphorus, and dietary fiber.
Moringa has long been used in traditional medicine, where it’s known to treat over 300 diseases. While many people believe that the leaves of moringa are its most beneficial parts, in India, even the root bark is used in medicine.
In the review, the authors highlighted some of the known benefits of moringa.
Scientists found that moringa extracts act as an antidiabetic agent for both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. The antioxidants present in the leaves protect beta cells in the pancreas from oxidative stress, allowing them to produce much-needed insulin to keep blood sugar levels normal. Researchers also found that the plant can benefit those with diabetes by preventing some of its complications, including retinopathy and nephropathy, to name a few.
There’s no question that cancer is a devastating disease, for both the sufferer and his family. According to the World Health Organization, more than 9 million people worldwide die from cancer every year, making it the second leading cause of death after cardiovascular disease. While conventional treatments exist, these can be expensive and have adverse effects. Multiple studies provide evidence that moringa leaves exhibit anticancer potential; scientists say that its ability to protect cells from oxidative damage also helps in preventing the abnormal spread of cancer cells in the body. Additionally, moringa can upregulate caspase 3 and 9, which are associated with programmed cell death in cancer cells.
While inflammation is part of the body’s natural response to infection, chronic inflammation is not. Inflammation that persists can be a precursor to other chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer. According to researchers, moringa leaves, pods, and seeds are rich in isothiocyanates, which have potent anti-inflammatory properties.
Every part has its benefit
It’s worth noting that no part of the moringa tree is wasted, especially when it comes to health benefits and nutritional value.
The leaves are rich in fiber, fat, protein, and minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron, and potassium. They also have B-vitamins as well as essential amino acids. Studies show that moringa leaves can treat diseases like asthma, diarrhea, headaches, and eye and ear infections, thanks to the presence of flavonoids like quercetin. (Related: Moringa is a nutrient-dense superfood that protects you from oxidative damage.)
The seeds contain oleic acid and other fatty acids like linoleic, and behenic acids. They are also rich in tannins, phenolics, and other phytochemicals. Studies show that moringa seeds can help treat Crohn’s disease, arthritis, gout, cramps, and hyperthyroidism. Moringa seeds are also potent antimicrobial agents.
The root bark has alkaloids and minerals such as magnesium and calcium. It also has anti-inflammatory and anti-ulcer activities. The alkaloid content of the root bark is responsible for both bioactivities and can even help in relaxing cardiac muscles.
The benefits of moringa extend beyond food and medicine. Its seeds are also pressed for their oil, which can be used in perfumes, cosmetics, and lubrication. In agriculture, moringa is highly valued for its ability to increase crop yield and eliminate heavy metals from water.
Moringa leaves are an excellent source of many vitamins and minerals. One cup of fresh, chopped leaves (21 grams) contains (2 Trusted Source):
• 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
In Western countries, the dried leaves are sold as dietary supplements, either in powder or capsule form.
Compared to the leaves, the pods are generally lower in vitamins and minerals. However, they are exceptionally rich in vitamin C. One cup of fresh, sliced pods (100 grams) contains 157% of your daily requirement.
The diet of people in developing nations sometimes lacks vitamins, minerals and protein. In these countries, Moringa oleifera can be an important source of many essential nutrients.
Another thing to keep in mind is that taking Moringa oleifera supplements in capsules won’t supply a large number of nutrients.
The amounts are negligible compared to what you consume if you eat a balanced diet based on whole foods.
Moringa leaves are rich in many important nutrients, including protein, vitamin B6, vitamin C, riboflavin and iron.
2. Moringa oleifera Is Rich in Antioxidants
Antioxidants are compounds that act against free radicals in your body.
High levels of free radicals may cause oxidative stress, which is associated with chronic diseases like heart disease and type 2 diabetes (5 Trusted Source, 6 Trusted Source).
Several antioxidant plant compounds have been found in the leaves of Moringa Oleifera
• Quercetin: This powerful antioxidant may help lower blood pressure (12 Trusted Source, 13 Trusted Source).
• Chlorogenic acid: Also found in high amounts in coffee, chlorogenic acid may help moderate blood sugar levels after meals (14 Trusted Source, 15T rusted Source).
One study in women found that taking 1.5 teaspoons (7 grams) of moringa leaf powder every day for three months significantly increased blood antioxidant levels (16).
Moringa leaf extract may also be used as a food preservative. It increases the shelf life of meat by reducing oxidation (17).
Summary Moringa oleifera is rich in various antioxidants, including quercetin and chlorogenic acid. Moringa leaf powder can increase blood antioxidant levels.
3. Moringa May Lower Blood Sugar Levels
High blood sugar can be a serious health problem. In fact, it’s the main characteristic of diabetes.
Over time, high blood sugar levels raise the risk of many serious health problems, including heart disease. For this reason, it’s important to keep your blood sugar within healthy limits.
Interestingly, several studies have shown that Moringa oleifera may help lower blood sugar levels.
However, most of the evidence is based on animal studies. Only a few human-based studies exist, and they’re generally of low quality (18 Trusted Source, 19 Trusted Source, 20 Trusted Source).
One study in 30 women showed that taking 1.5 teaspoons (7 grams) of moringa leaf powder every day for three months reduced fasting blood sugar levels by 13.5%, on average (16).
Another small study in six people with diabetes found that adding 50 grams of moringa leaves to a meal reduced the rise in blood sugar by 21% (21).
Scientists believe these effects are caused by plant compounds such as isothiocyanates.