Remarkable health benefits of moringa
Ever heard about the mystical miracle plant or the plant referred to as ‘the tree of life’?
These are the descriptions given to the remarkable Moringa plant as a result of its numerous health benefits. This mystical plant has been in existence for over hundreds of years. Who would have ever thought so? I never would have, until about a few years ago when I listened to an elderly man give so much praises to the plant. He called it God’s perfect gift to humanity and talked about how it had been therapeutically helpful in the treatment of a number of ailments ranging from diabetes to high blood pressure, gout, cancers and many more. I decided to read up on this mystical plant and its several health benefits and indeed, it’s a gift to humanity.
Moringa is a relatively large tree that is native to North India. It goes by a variety of names, such as drumstick tree, horse radish tree, or ben oil tree. How amazing! Almost all parts of the tree are edible and can be used as ingredients in traditional/herbal medicines. The leaves and pods are commonly eaten in parts of India and Africa. Moringa which is botanically known as Moringa oleifera, is a popular plant known for its rich antioxidant property and its several bioactive content of plant compounds. So far, scientists have carried out various researches on the plant and have identified part of its many reputable health benefits.
Below are a few health benefits of Moringa oleifera that are supported by scientific research.
• Its high content of essential nutrients:
Moringa leaves are an excellent source of nutrients including proteins, many vitamins and minerals such as vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin B2, vitamin A, magnesium, calcium, iron, copper, manganese, zinc and selenium. Iron alleviates anemia. Calcium is required for bone mineralization. Zinc plays a vital role in hair growth, spermatogenesis, and skin health.
In western countries, dried leaves are sold as dietary supplements, in either powder or capsule form. 100 g of fresh leaves contain about 9.8 g of protein or about 17.5% of daily-required levels, as well as 7564 IU or 252% of daily-required levels of vitamin A. Dry, powdered leaves indeed are a much concentrated source of several quality amino acids. 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 for vitamin C. The diets of people in developing nations sometimes lack vitamins, minerals and protein. Therefore, Moringa oleifera can be an important source of the many lacked essential nutrients. However, there is one downside. Moringa leaves may also contain high levels of substances that interfere with the absorption of minerals and protein.
The amount of nutrient supply is negligible when Moringa is taken as a supplement, compared to when taken as a food-based diet.
•Its ability to help lower Blood Sugar levels:
High level of blood sugar is a major characteristic of diabetes and can pose great health risk. Over time, the high blood sugar becomes a debilitating factor to many other serious health problems, including stroke and heart disease. For this reason, it is important to keep blood sugar levels within healthy limits. Several studies have shown that Moringa may help lower blood sugar levels. Their effects are caused by plant compounds like isothiocyanates found in the Moringa leaves.
• Its rich antioxidant property:
Antioxidants are compounds that mop up free radicals in our bodies. High levels of free radicals bring about oxidative stress in the body, which may contribute to chronic diseases such as heart disease and type2 diabetes. Several antioxidant plant compounds have been found in the leaves of Moringa. In addition to vitamin C and vitamin A (beta-carotene), these include:
Quercetin which is powerful antioxidant that helps to lower blood pressure.
Chlorogenic acid which helps to manage blood sugar levels after meals. It is also found in high amounts in coffee.
Moringa leaf extract may also be used as a food preservative. It increases the shelf life of meat by reducing oxidation.
• Moringa may help to reduce inflammation:
Inflammation is the body’s natural response to infection or injury. It occurs as a protective mechanism, but may become a major health issue when it persists for a long period of time. Prolonged inflammation is believed to be involved in many chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Many fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices have known anti-inflammatory effects and Moringa is one of them. Others may include turmeric and pomegranate.
Moringa leaves, pods and seeds are the parts known to possess the anti-inflammatory property, which may be due to isothiocyanate compounds present in the plant. However, the research so far has been limited to only test tube and animal studies. It has not been fully confirmed in human studies yet.
• Its ability to help lower blood cholesterol:
Moringa helps to lower cholesterol levels in the blood, which leads to a reduced risk of heart disease. High amounts of cholesterol in the blood have been linked to increased risk of heart diseases. Many plant foods can effectively reduce cholesterol. They include flaxseeds, oats and almonds, of which Moringa is not exempted. Moringa has been shown to possess similar cholesterol-lowering effects.
• Its ability to protect against Arsenic toxicity:
Arsenic contamination of food and water has posed a great treat to the health of inhabitants in many parts of the world. The symptoms of arsenic toxicity are usually not immediate upon exposure but the long-term exposure to it is what causes health problems over time. Rice may contain particularly high levels. Observed studies indicate that long-term exposure to arsenic increases the risk of cancer and heart disease. Moringa possesses the ability to protect against some effects of this arsenic toxicity. Several studies have been carried out and continuous studies are still on-going about this property of Moringa.
Moringa indeed is a true gift to humanity, filled with several essential nutrients and compounds that bring about its remarkable health benefits. It is advisable to key into the health benefit it provides. It can be purchased in the powdered form, extract, oil, capsule or even tea form, from any nearby supermarket that stocks organic products.