When it comes to eating a diet that can help lead to more optimal levels of health, superfoods are often said to deliver.
From acai berries and almonds to wheatgrass and zucchini, there are foods from nearly every letter in the alphabet that are promoted for their ability to help people live longer and higher quality lives.
One that falls exactly mid-alphabet is Moringa. It’s being called the next new superfood by many health experts. If you’ve never heard of it, Moringa is a plant that has an extremely high content nutrient base.
Moringa’s nutritional breakdown
According to researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad in Telangana, India, and PES University in Bangalor, India, Moringa is extremely high in a number of nutrients. In fact, in an article published in June 2016 in Food Science and Human Wellness, they share that this plant contains “7 times more vitamin C than oranges, 10 times more vitamin A than carrots, 17 times more calcium than milk, 9 times more protein than yoghurt, 15 times more potassium than bananas and 25 times more iron than spinach.”
Also called the drumstick tree, the miracle tree, and the horseradish tree, Moringa oleifera, as it is technically known, is favored because virtually every part of the plant—its leaves, pods, roots, and seeds—contains a multitude of vitamins and minerals. It is also often preferred because it can grow in many different climates, even those in areas where many other plants cannot survive.
Potential benefits of Moringa
What types of benefits does Moringa potentially provide? Here are three to consider:
1. Anti-inflammatory properties. The research in Food Science and Human Wellness indicates that some studies have found that Moringa has anti-inflammatory properties. That’s why it’s been used in the treatment of conditions such as pneumonia, ear infections, rheumatism and joint pain.
One such study was published in the Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine in 2014, and it investigated Moringa’s effects on acid-induced colitis in rats. Upon conclusion of the trial, it was determined that this plant was “effective to reduce ulcer severity, area, and index as well as mucosal inflammation severity and extent.”
2. Positive cholesterol and blood sugar effects. Other studies have found that Moringa also provides positive effects in regard to cholesterol and blood sugar levels. This is important as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that roughly 95 million Americans have cholesterol levels above the recommended amount (200 mg/dL) and nearly 30 million Americans have diabetes.
A study published in Frontiers in Pharmacology reviewed Moringa for both of these. After looking at a variety of peer-reviewed studies, researchers stated that there was “compelling, albeit very preliminary, experimental evidence” of Moringa’s therapeutic effect on each of these issues.
3. Improved vital organ health. Medical News Today (MNT) explains that Moringa provides many benefits for a number of the body’s organs. For instance, it has been found to protect the liver against damage caused by drugs commonly prescribed for tuberculosis. It can also help increase the health of digestive organs, reducing issues with constipation and gas.
MNT adds that Moringa also improves the health of the body’s largest organ: the skin. It does this via the protein Moringa contains, but it also has hydrating and detoxifying properties as well. This aids in cleaner and healthier skin and hair.
But is Moringa safe to ingest? According to a 2015 review published in Phytotherapy Research, the answer is yes as “no adverse effects were reported in association with human studies.” These studies all used Moringa leaves in powdered form and in doses up to 50 grams. However, it was also noted that product standardization was a concern.
MNT also warns that Moringa “may possess anti-fertility qualities.” Thus, it is generally not recommended for women who are pregnant or want to become pregnant.
It may also negatively interact with certain medications, some of which include medicines designed to help with thyroid issues, liver issues, diabetes medications, and high blood pressure medications. In some cases, Moringa works against the medication; in other cases it enhances the medicine’s effects, making it potentially dangerous to take.
Moringa intake options
Because all parts of the Moringa plant are edible, it can be ingested in many forms. For instance, if you want to use the leaves, you can make drumstick leaf curry or chicken ginger soup with chayote and Moringa leaves.
Another option is to make a drink with the Moringa and capitalize on all of its vitamins and minerals that way. Steep the leaves into a tea or make a three-ingredient Moringa latte, quenching your thirst while also feeding your cells the nutrients that can potentially help improve their health.
Is Moringa the next new superfood? Only time will tell, but it’s certainly looking promising so far.