Moringa Oleifera: The King of Superfoods

By February 23, 2013Plants

Moringa LeavesMoringa oleifera is a tree that grows in the foothills of the Himalayan mountains in northern India. It is also cultivated throughout Central and Southern America and Africa due to the ease with which it grows in tropical, sub-tropical, and semi-arid environments.

While moringa is not well-known in the West, it has developed quite a reputation in its native lands for its unusually high nutritional value. Indeed, health researchers have started to give it nicknames such as “The Miracle Tree,” “The Tree of Immortality,” and “The Elixir of Long Life” due to its miraculous healing abilities.

List of Health Benefits

Antioxidant activity – According to analysis, the dried and powdered leaves of the moringa tree (which is how most people consume the plant) contains 46 types of antioxidants. One serving, in fact, contains 22 percent of our recommended daily intake (RDI) of vitamin C, one of the most important antioxidants on Earth, and a whopping 272 percent of our RDI of vitamin A. Antioxidants help to neutralize the devastating impact of free radicals (unstable molecules that wreak havoc on our body’s cells), thereby guarding us from cancer and degenerative diseases such as macular degeneration and cystic fibrosis.

Rich in amino acids – The leaves of the moringa tree contain 18 amino acids, of which eight are essential amino acids, making them a “complete” protein. Indeed, moringa’s protein content rivals that of meat, making it an excellent source of protein for vegetarians and vegans. Protein is, of course, needed to build muscle, cartilage, bones, skin, blood, and is also needed to produce enzymes and hormones.

Calcium and magnesium – One serving of moringa leaves provides us with approximately 125 percent of our RDI of calcium and 61 percent of our RDI of magnesium. These two trace minerals work in synergy; while calcium is needed to build strong bones and teeth, we also need magnesium to help us absorb it. Since moringa contains generous quantities of both, it is especially good at guarding us from osteoporosis and other bone conditions.

Extensive nutrient concentrations – Moringa leaves contain 90 different types of nutrients, including four times more calcium than milk, three times more potassium than bananas, four times more vitamin A than carrots, 50 times more vitamin B3 than peanuts, 36 times more magnesium than eggs, and 25 times more iron than spinach. It also includes high amounts of additional nutrients such as dietary fiber, iodine, lutein, zinc, selenium, zeatin, and beta-carotene.

Produces a healthy oil – Although Moringa oleifera is mostly celebrated for its nutritious leaves, its seeds also have a worthwhile purpose: The matured pods contain almost 40 percent of an edible, non-drying oil called “Ben oil,” which is comparable to olive oil in nutritional value and antioxidant activity. Ben oil is odorless, sweet-tasting, clear, and – most importantly – lasts indefinitely. In fact, moringa leaf powder is also immune from spoiling, making both the tree’s oil and leaves excellent survival foods.

Nourishes the skin – Due to their trace mineral content, dried and powdered moringa leaves are great for nourishing the skin. Indeed, more and more cosmetic companies are starting to include moringa extracts in their products for this reason. Moringa creams and lotions can be applied topically on the desired areas, thus allowing the nutrients to soak into, and rejuvenate, the skin.

Regularly consuming moringa leaves has also been linked to lower blood pressure, improved digestion and mood, immune-boosting effects, treatment of inflammatory conditions, and, thanks to their high fiber levels and low fat and calorie levels, weight loss.