By: Cat Ebeling, RN, MSN-PHN, co-author of the best-sellers: The Fat Burning Kitchen, The Top 101 Foods that Fight Aging & The Diabetes Fix
Have you ever heard of moringa? Hint: It’s not a new Latin American dance, it’s a superfood!
Moringa Olifera is actually a superfood plant that has been used medicinally for thousands of years in India and Africa. It is also known as the drumstick tree, horseradish tree, or the ben oil tree. Moringa tree roots can grow in a variety of soils, including dried out, depleted soils. Because they are drought-resistant and can grow without rainwater, moringa trees do particularly well in harsh and dry climates.
Most all the parts of the tree are used in many traditional herbal medicines.
Moringa is rich in powerful antioxidants and other active plant compounds. Moringa comes packed with over 90 protective compounds, including isothiocyanates, flavonoids and phenolic acids.
A large number of published studies have shown that extracts of Moringa Oleifera leaves possess a wide range of healthy biological activities in our bodies. Moringa has been used to treat a large variety of diseases including:
• heart problems, including high blood pressure
• kidney stones
• fluid retention
• thyroid disorders
• low sex drive
• bacterial, fungal, viral and parasitic infections
• low energy and fatigue
• arthritis and other joint pain
• allergies and asthma
• constipation, stomach pains and diarrhea
• stomach ulcers
• chronic headaches
Moringa is considered a nutritious superfood and the leaves and pods are often eaten in India and Africa. Moringa leaves contain many vitamins and minerals, as well as antioxidants. One cup of fresh, chopped leaves contains protein, vitamin B6, vitamin B2, vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, and magnesium. Moringa is considered so nutritious that the dried leaves are often sold as a nutritional supplement. Moringa pods are especially rich in vitamin C.
Moringa contains a high level of antioxidants and flavonoids that fight dangerous free radicals in the body. Free radicals, when they accumulate in the body can contribute to the onset of many chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
The tree contains a rare and unique combination of disease-preventing phytonutrients, including flavonoids, glucosides, glucosinolates, zeatin, quercetin, beta-sitosterol, caffeoylquinic acid and kaempferol.
One study in post-menopausal women found that taking 1.5 teaspoons of moringa leaf powder every day for three months significantly increased blood antioxidant levels and helped to lower blood pressure. Moringa has also been shown to reduce unhealthy levels of cholesterol as well, possibly due to its antioxidants.
The antioxidants in moringa include:
Quercetin—A powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound that helps protect against hypertension as well as lessening inflammatory reactions such as asthma and allergies.
Vitamin C—This antioxidant is a strong immune booster and helps slow down inflammatory responses as well. It also works in conjunction with collagen compounds to strengthen ligaments, tendons, muscles and skin. Antioxidant-rich vitamins promote your own natural collagen production, which fights signs of anti-aging by keeping skin firm and preventing fine lines and wrinkles.
Chlorogenic acid—This antioxidant is found in coffee and helps to hold blood sugar level after meals.
Moringa leaf is such as powerful antioxidant it can be used as a food preservative for meat.
Moringa and Blood Sugar
Blood sugar issues and metabolic disease are a key factor in many serious health issues, especially diabetes. Keeping blood sugar stable through diet and dietary supplements is one of the healthiest measures to maintain health.
Interestingly, several studies have shown that Moringa Oleifera may help lower or stabilize blood sugar levels. One study of 30 women showed that taking 1.5 teaspoons of moringa leaf powder every day for three months reduced fasting blood sugar levels by an average of 13.5%.
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%.
Inflammation is a normal response by the immune system to help our bodies fight off infection or heal an injury. When inflammation becomes chronic and longstanding, it can cause worsening health problems. Long term inflammation is often linked to diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and heart disease.
Many foods have anti-inflammatory compounds in them—especially fruits and vegetables. Scientists have identified one of the most powerful anti-oxidant compounds in moringa called isothiocyanates.
Protects against Arsenic Toxicity
Many of the foods we eat can pick up toxic levels of arsenic, especially certain types of rice. Arsenic is considered a poison and even low levels can build up to potentially toxic levels after a period of time. Some studies on arsenic toxicity show an increased risk of cancers as well as heart disease.
Several studies on mice and rats have proven that the leaves and seeds of moringa can protect against arsenic buildup and toxicity. This is most likely due to the powerful antioxidants it contains, as well as the increased amounts of fiber that moringa contains.
Helps the Environment, Protects Topsoil and Filters Water
Moringa tree is capable of growing in depleted or dry soils where many other types vegetation cannot grow. This is also exactly why certain undernourished populations living in third-world countries such as Africa or India have benefited from it during times of famine. It grows in dry soil and is extremely high in nutrients, making it life-saving for many.
Growing moringa can be utilized to help restore fertile soil, aid in forest restoration and protect topsoil from being blown away.
The seeds have a unique use for water purification. When moringa is combined with water, the impurities cling to the moringa seeds. Once the seeds are removed, they leave cleaner water with less toxins.
Some studies have shown that 0.2 grams of ground moringa seed can turn one liter of contaminated water into safe drinking water.
Moringa Side Effects
Moringa leaves may also contain high levels of nutrient-blocking compounds, which can reduce the absorption of minerals and protein. However, unless you are consuming very large quantities of moringa, the anti-nutrients available in moringa are of little consequence.
Moringa is completely natural and free from chemical additives and seems to be very well-tolerated. However, moringa side effects are still possible and can include:
• low blood pressure
• slowed heart rate
• uterine contractions
• cell mutations when high amounts of seeds are consumed
• interference with fertility
Be aware of medication interactions with moringa:
• Levothyroxine: Compounds in the moringa leaf may aid the thyroid function, but it can make thyroid medication too strong.
• Medications metabolized by the liver: Moringa extract can slow down the metabolism of medication causing various side effects or complications.
• Diabetes medications: Diabetes medications are used to lower blood sugar, which moringa also does effectively. It is important to monitor blood sugar levels if using both.
• High blood pressure medication: Moringa has shown to be effective at lowering blood pressure. Taking moringa and blood pressure medication may result in low blood pressure.
How to Use Moringa
Leaves, fruit, oil and seeds from the moringa tree have been consumed safely for centuries, but there are also many types of supplements or extracts available as well.
• Dried moringa leaves or moringa powder – Follow dosage directions carefully, taking up to six grams daily for up to three weeks at a time (which has been shown to be safe, according to studies).
• Moringa tea – This type of moringa is made from dried leaves steeped in hot water, just like many other beneficial herbal teas. Most nutrient-dense types are organic and dried slowly under low temperatures.
• Moringa seeds – The pods and flowers appear to have a high antioxidant content along with proteins and fatty acids. The immature green pods of the plant are often called “drumsticks” and can be eaten and prepared like green beans.
• Moringa oil – Oil from the seeds is sometimes called Ben oil. Look for it in natural creams or lotions. Keep the oil in a cool, dark place away from high temperatures or the sun.
Before you leave…
You just discovered all of the amazing benefits of Moringa, including…
* 200% more protein than yogurt
* 400% more vitamin A than carrots
* 300% more potassium than bananas
* 400% more calcium than cow’s milk
* 700% more vitamin C than oranges
* 4800% more vitamin B than Kale
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I do take Levothyroxine. I was just prescribed a reduction in Levothyroxine. Do I stop taking Levothyroxine or Moringa?
That would have to be something you discuss with your medical professional.