We all want to live long, healthy lives. Holistic health practitioners believe that many of the diseases conventionally accepted as part of 'getting old' are mainly due to an unhealthy lifestyle rather than a consequence of chronological ageing. But it's never too late to change, even if we are advanced in years!
According to nutritional experts, there is no single food overall kind of food that can provide all the nutrition, health benefits and energy we need to nourish ourselves. The 2020–2025 U.S. Dietary Guidelines suggest healthy eating patterns by combining healthy food groups' healthy choices while paying awareness to calorie limits and consumption.
Over the years, studies have shown that healthy dietary patterns can reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and certain types of cancers. Over years of progressive studies and research, nutritional experts explain that a few types of foods can be identified for special nutritional recognition called "superfood." These "superfoods" offer vital nutrients that can power-pack your meals and snacks and further enhance a healthy eating pattern.
What are "superfoods"?
Those are different kinds of foods, collectively named for their high concentrations of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and particularly antioxidants. Scientifically speaking, though, there is no formal explanation of a superfood other than to say it is a food that offers levels of beneficial nutrients linked to promoting healthy ageing or preventing disease and sickness.
In this blog article, I will explore one of the top ranking superfoods - Moringa oleifera — also known as “tree of life,” and “miracle tree” — it's one of the most nutritious plants in the world. It has a wide range of nutritional and bioactive compounds, including essential amino acids, carbohydrates, fibre, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, making this plant a powerful plant food to be reckoned with.
Native to Northern India and East Africa, you’ll find the two most popular species in those regions, although there are 13 different species in total.
According to research, Moringa has been used in phytomedicine and ayurvedic healing for centuries. The benefits of moringa were recognized long ago when used in Ayurveda medicine over 4,000 years ago.
Also, my own personal heath and wellness journey, my Indian heritage and exposure to ayurvedic lifestyle and rituals since birth in Trinidad and Tobago have helped me achieve an ACE immune system, zero illness, amplified energy, and optimal health.
What is Moringa?
The whole Moringa plant is edible. “Moringa oleifera leaves, seeds, bark, roots, sap and flowers are widely used in traditional medicine, oils are used in skin care and the leaves and immature seed pods are used as food products.
The launch of Zalina`s Moringa earlier in 2022 was a mission accomplished to make such a beautiful plant accessible to my global community.
Moringa oleifera Lam is a highly valued plant distributed in many countries of the tropics and subtropics. It has a magnificent range of medicinal uses with high nutritional value.
1. Highly Nutritious
Moringa is rich in antioxidants, protein, magnesium, vitamin, calcium and potassium. It also contains five times the amount of iron as kale; what a plus!
Overall, moringa is rich in macro- and micronutrients and other bioactive compounds which are vital for the normal functioning of the body and prevention of many diseases.
Moringa provides all nine essential amino acids. Research shows moringa fights inflammation, supports brain and cardiovascular health and reduces liver damage.
2. It helps fight against inflammation
Inflammation is a physiological response that happens in the body to protect against infection and restore body tissue injury. According to research, moringa contains inflammation-fighting nutrients including phytonutrients, antioxidants and antibacterial compounds. Together, these powerful compounds fight inflammation in the body by targeting free radicals (compounds that damage cells) and as a result reduces oxidative stress, inflammation and fights disease. One study suggests that moringa contains two compounds - quercetin, a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent, and isothiocyanates, which aid in detoxification and have anti-inflammatory effects and help reduce inflammation associated with chronic diseases.
3. Bolster your sex drive?
Stress is one of the major culprits than can negatively impact sexual drive? It can throw libido on a spiral by increasing cortisol and decreasing the feel-good endorphins - oxytocin, dopamine. Sexual function is a very complex process that involves the brain, hormones, emotions, nerves and muscles, which are very sensitive to stress. Many herbs known to be considered aphrodisiacs have long been used to enhance libido — and moringa might be one of them. Animal studies found that moringa may boost may boost testosterone and reduce cortisol, thereby supporting libido. While this may be true, there is still not enough empirical evidence to prove that moringa leaves may have significant beneficial effects on male sexual dysfunction by stress.
3. Bolster energize daily
If you’re looking for a boost of energy, you might want to consider moringa in your morning routine. t’s rich in vitamins and minerals, especially iron and vitamins C and D, nutrients involved in energy-yielding metabolism. Moringa also contains B vitamins which helps sustain long-term energy and supports healthy metabolic processes. From my experience, I feel so alive and energetic after adding a huge scoop in my smoothies, oatmeal and protein shakes
4. It may support focus, balance mood
The extract of plants like moringa and its effect on enhancing cognition and mood continues to be studied extensively. Moringa may boost cognition given its amino acid and vitamin profile. It contains tryptophan, an aid to serotonin - the feel good hormone that works in the reward centres of your brain and supports cognition and brain function. Moringa contains vitamin C and E which are potent antioxidants that help reduce oxidative stress to the brain, a major factor in the development of chronic brain dysfunction and disorders.
5. It stabilises sugar
Moringa is believed to help in blood sugar balance due to its chlorogenic acid and isothiocyanates. Chlorogenic acid can potentially control blood sugar levels by regulating the cells uptake or release of glucose (sugar) following a meal. According to Dr. Sreenauth, the use of moringa to aid in blood sugar balance with positive effects on fasting blood sugar levels, insulin levels, HbA1c and overall blood glucose control in those that consume moringa powder.
6. It has slow ageing properties
Are you afraid of growing older? According to research, Moringa is packed with antioxidants like flavonoids and polyphenols, which may combat premature wrinkles and keep your skin looking youthful. Its compounds have powerful anti-inflammatory effects and its anti-aging benefits on skincare are promising but research is still ongoing.
7. It may reduce blood pressure
If you struggle with high blood pressure, adding moringa to your diet regularly might make a difference, especially when your routine includes exercise and a nutrient-rich diet. Moringa powder has anti-hypertensive properties because it contains quercetin. “This antioxidant decreases oxidative stress on the heart and helps to stabilize blood pressure management systems in the body,” says Dr. Sreenauth. If you are taking blood pressure medications, you’ll want to speak to your healthcare provider before considering moringa as it may result in your blood pressure becoming too low.
8. It can help with digestion
If you struggle with digestive problems like bloating, constipation, the fibre found in moringa may help keep you regular. “It contains soluble fibers as well as insoluble fibers,” Dr. Sreenauth says. Both forms of fiber have many health benefits, especially for digestion. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and turns to gel, slowing digestion and keeping you fuller for longer, while insoluble fiber adds bulk to the stool, making it much easier to pass through the digestive tract, therefore reducing constipation. Not only that, moringa’s nutrition profile contains compounds that help promote the beneficial bacteria in the gut.
9. It may improve cholesterol
Having healthy cholesterol levels is crucial in preventing heart disease. The good news is that “moringa has the potential to decrease cholesterol,” Smith says. According to one study, moringa has hypocholesterolemic (lipid-lowering) and antiatherescotic (prevents the buildup of plaques in artery walls) activities which supports a healthy heart.
Does moringa have side effects?
Moringa is a powerful plant and when consumed in large quantities, some people may experience stomach upset, abdominal pain or other digestive issues. “If you're pregnant or nursing, avoid consuming moringa as the chemicals found in the root, bark and flowers can be harmful,” Smith says.
Additionally, moringa may have interactions with some medications. If you’re interested in giving moringa a try, it's best to start with a small dose, like half to one teaspoon per day. Jones adds that, “over 70 grams of moringa daily may cause vitamin and mineral toxicity.” It’s recommended to consult with your healthcare provider before adding moringa to your everyday routine to be on the safe side.
Here are tips to consider when buying moringa:
- Look for organic, 100% pure moringa leaves.
- Moringa leaf powder should be stored in an air-tight container in a cool and dark environment.
- Look at the expiration date and shelf-life
How to use moringa powder
Moringa is versatile and can be added to a variety of recipes, from meals to snacks and beverages, too. Moringa has a similar taste to matcha (green tea ground into a powdered form). It’s tough to characterize, but it has been described as having an earthy, grassy or green flavor.
- Add to your morning smoothie (see recipe)
- Sprinkle in hummus (see recipe)
- Add to guacamole or your favorite dip
- Add to soups and salads
- Stir into a pasta sauce or pesto
- Bake into cookies and cakes
- Make tea by adding the leaves to hot water, steep and add your favorite sweetener