Moringa oleifera, a plant of the family Moringaceae. It is a fast growing plant and can live up to 20 years. The plant does best where temperature ranges from 25 to degrees C (77 to 104 degrees F). Moringa is common all over the tropics. Moringa has numerous substances such as vitamins, enzymes, amino acids, fats, minerals, specific phytochemicals (plant-derived), each with specific importance and numerous applications in healing and nutrition. Moringa contains more vitamin C than oranges, three times the iron of spinach, and four times the calcium found in milk. Combine this with significant amounts of proteins and oils, a great taste, and the presence of beneficial antioxidants and anti-inflammatory substances and you will come to understand why they called this plant the “Miracle Tree”.
Properties of Moringa "Malunggay" at a glance (Click)
Moringa the Medicinal Plant
Moringa is being used around the world by many cultures for a variety of ailments.
Some of the vitamins (specifically, vitamins A, C, E) are also potent antioxidants. Vitamins may be considered nutrients but they are also viewed as “medicines”. Moringa is a powerful vitamin factory; some of those present in the various plant include vitamin C, beta-carotene (a precursor of vitamin A), vitamin E, and many of the B complex group of vitamins.
Moringa has long been known to have powerful antibiotic effects and was used by various populations around the globe against infections. Modern science has confirmed and described at least some of the antibiotic substances in Moringa. For example, pterygospermin, has excellent antimicrobial and fungicidal properties. The Moringa leaf juice, was traditionally used and is used to treat many skin infections.
Natural hormones, enzymes minerals and various phytochemicals
Niaziminin, another Moringa phytochemical, was shown to have potent anticancer activity in animal studies. Interestingly, long before research validated the idea, people traditionally have used Moringa against abdominal and other tumors (cancerous growth). Obtained from fresh leaves of Moringa are niazinin, niazimicin and niaziminin A and B which have hypotensive effect (lower blood pressure). These compounds belong to the family of mustard oil glycosides (very rare in nature).
One of the most exciting phytochemicals found in Moringa is beta-sitosterol. It acts to reduce the excess of cholesterol in the human blood. Although beta-sitosterol is not well absorbed by the body after ingestion, when consumed with cholesterol (found in animal fats) it effectively blocks cholesterol’s absorption. This ultimately leads to a lower serum cholesterol level. A diet rich in plants such as Moringa can significantly improve human health by:
• Reducing cholesterol levels and triglycerides (“bad” fats in the serum).
• Controlling blood sugar and helping normal sugar and energy balance
• Offering vitamins and minerals vital for maintaining normal physiology
• Offering powerful anti-aging and anti-inflammatory natural substances, many with anti-cancer properties
What could Moringa bring to the Westerners’ table?
Concentrated vitamins, minerals, all necessary protein constituents, beneficial fats, anti-oxidants, anti-aging and anti-inflammatory substances, all in a readily absorbable form and easy to digest is equal to an energy food. Very little in sugar and salt.
What nutritional daily value can Moringa give?
According to Optima of Africa, Ltd., a group that has been working with this tree, says that for every 25 grams (less than an ounce) daily of Moringa leaf powder will give a child the following daily allowances: protein 42%, calcium 125%, magnesium 60%, potassium 41%, iron 71%, vitamin A 272%, vitamin C 22%. The same benefits apply to adults and senior citizens, but only the percentages change. Obviously, Moringa is beneficial for people of all ages.
Western world suffer from serious nutritive deficiencies
This stem from poor eating habits (junk food, overcooking, mixing foods in an inappropriate way, insufficient consumption of fresh fruits, vegetables, and seeds, foods lacking valuable nutrients due to soil depletion caused by intense, monoculture, chemically-laden methods of agriculture or by over processing of foods.
Many people, unknowingly, have poor gastro-intestinal absorption of nutrients, which usually increases in seriousness with age. Many others lack the time to learn about healthy nutrition, while some are not educated enough to understand its importance. Still others simply don’t care, and stick with their junk food until their first or last heart attack. Multivitamins seem to be an easy and handy solution. However, many synthetic brands offer pills and products that cannot be truly dissolved and absorbed efficiently by the body.
Generally, vitamins and most nutrients are best absorbed and used by the body when they come from natural sources (plants, animals) and are present in naturally occurring, complex combinations. We are designed to best absorb vitamins from nature’s complex foods.
Moringa can become a unique “super food” in our arsenal
Moringa is unique because, even in small amounts, it can supply daily a wide gamut of vital nutrients with few calories. It would take really large amounts and many types of foods and calories to bring all the nutrients, vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, and anti-aging substances we should eat every day. Why not take a concentrated super food like Moringa. This means taking less pills while having more! Spending less and getting more!
Amino Acids in Moringa
Plants are an important source of proteins, but most plants actually supply the units making up the proteins – the amino acids. Proteins are digested by the gastro-intestinal system and then cut into smaller, simpler units (amino acids) that can be absorbed through the walls of the intestines and used by the body. Since proteins and other nitrogen-containing substances are continuously depleted and rebuilt, they must be replaced by a continuous supply of amino acids from the diet.
There are 20 amino acids present in the human body’s structures. Of those, 9 are known to be ESSENTIAL; they have to be supplied by the diet since the human body cannot synthesize them, as it does with the other 11 amino acids. Few foods, like Moringa, are known to contain all 9 essential amino acids. The 9 essential amino acids are: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine. Moringa’s essential amino acids presence and digestibility scores are more than adequate when measured against the standards of World Health Organization (WHO), Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and United Nations Organization (UNO) for small children, the most at-risk population group when it comes to proteins in food.
Macroelements in Moringa
Moringa leaves contain high amounts of calcium, 500 mg per 100 g of leaves, while the leaf powder can have about five times more calcium per 100 g. The daily recommended dose for an adult is about 1,000 mg, with more needed for pregnant or lactating women. Remember, calcium is consumed and excreted every day. Ideally and importantly, the consumed calcium should equal the amount of calcium excreted. Calcium is a vital mineral for numerous physiological processes, such as building and maintaining healthy bones and teeth, blood clotting and other various cellular functions (maintaining normal heart rhythm and the transmission of nerve impulses).
Almost all the calcium in the human body is stored in the bones and teeth, and when calcium is needed in the blood, it is released (borrowed) from the bones. Bones are living tissues, constantly formed and remodeled. Not getting enough calcium, will result in a condition where bone destruction exceeds bone production specially after the age of 30. This condition is known today as osteoporosis (porous bones).
Why should we get our calcium supplements from plant sources?
Dairy products are high in “bad” saturated fats that increase the risk of heart disease and other illnesses; many Asians, Hispanics, African Americans and especially children have lactose intolerance; galactose (a milk sugar) has been linked with a high incidence of ovarian problems, including cancer.
Moringa leaves contain approximately 25 mg per 100 g of leaves, while the leaf powder can contain approximately 370 mg per the same weight. Magnesium is similar to calcium in several ways; 60% is found in the bones and teeth and the balance is found mostly in the muscles. Magnesium is the second most abundant positively charged element found within the cells. Magnesium is extremely vital to health as: it stimulates gastric motility and intestinal function (it is a laxative); it is a relaxing ion for the nervous system and blood vessels, thus if fights stress, irritability and high blood pressure.
What does Potassium do in the body? It is involved in nerve and brain functions, muscle control and blood pressure. Potassium lowers blood pressure, acting as an antagonist of sodium. It works with sodium to maintain the water balance, which is very important for good health. It assists in the regulation of the acid-base balance and water balance in the blood. It also assists in protein synthesis from amino acids and in carbohydrate metabolism.
Moringa contains phosphorus, an important mineral which serves as the main regulator of energy metabolism in cells. It also helps the body absorb glucose (a type of carbohydrate found in foods as well as in our blood), and transport fatty acids. Moringa contains about 100mg of phosphorus in 100 g of leaves, while the leaf powder contains twice as much.
Is one of the most important but neglected nutrients, maybe more important than magnesium, iron, sodium, iodine, and even many vitamins. It has incredibly diverse roles; it is part of many proteins, boosts resistance to diseases, regulates blood sugar and helps detoxify the body. Moringa offers a good quantity and quality of organic, absorbable sulfur, from 140 mg per 100 g of leaves and pods, to more than 800 mg in 100 g leaf powder, making it an excellent source of sulfur for everyone.
Sulfur is a constituent of the essential amino acids methionine and cysteine, vitamin B1 and biotin (another type of vitamin B), the powerful antioxidant glutathione and the anticoagulant heparin. Sulfur is found in hormones in insulin, which regulates blood glucose levels.
Is composed of the three amino acids cysteine (containing sulfur), glycine and glutamic acid (two non-essential amino acids). Glutathione is one of the most powerful antioxidants made by the human body. Low levels of glutathione are associated with heart disease and cancer. It also helps the liver detoxify dangerous chemical of all sorts. More than 90% of the non-protein-bound sulfur in the cells is found as glutathione.
Microelements in Moringa
Moringa has more iron than spinach. 100 g of leaves or pods, or 25 g (less than an ounce) of leaf powder could provide all the daily iron needs of an adult, about 10-20 mg. Iron is one of those finicky (difficult to please) nutrients that like good company in order to be absorbed and stay in your body.
While many foods contain iron, it is not easily absorbed unless certain nutrients such as vitamin C and others are present.
Zinc supports a healthy immune system, wound healing, normal growth and development during pregnancy, childhood and adolescence. Moringa leaves, pods and seeds contain zinc in amounts similar to those found in beans, while leaf powder has twice as much zinc per the same weight.
Copper plays a role in the synthesis and maintenance of myelin, as substance which insulates nerve cells to ensure proper transmission of nerve impulses, and as a cofactor for processes that neutralize the dangerous free radicals that would otherwise destroy our cells. We would not be able to produce energy without the help of copper and co-helper enzymes. Healthy muscles, including the heart, could not work without copper. Proper skin appearance and properties and bone formation also require copper. One hundred grams of Moringa leaves provide enough copper for the daily allowance in an adult (about 1 mg).
Manganese is mostly concentrated in the bones, liver, pancreas and brain. It is a component of several enzymes such as manganese-superoxide dismutase, which prevents tissue damage due to oxidation. Manganese also activates numerous enzymes involved in the digestion and utilization of foods, breakdown of cholesterol, sex hormone production and the function of bones and skin. The estimated adequate dietary intake for manganese is 2-5 mg for adults. Moringa has 5 mg per 100 g leaves or 50 g leaf powder, and thus qualifies as an outstanding source of manganese.
Selenium is an essential trace element with powerful antioxidant properties. Medical research has shown that increased selenium intake decreases the risk of many types of cancers including breast, colon, lung and prostate cancers. Selenium also preserves tissue elasticity, slows down the aging of tissues and even helps in the treatment of dandruff. Moringa contains about 8-10 mcg per 100g leaf powder.