Moringa is the sole genus in the flowering plant family Moringaceae. The 13 species it contains are from tropical and subtropical climates and range in size from tiny herbs to massive trees. The generic names are derived from the Tamil word murunggai (முருங்கை) or the Malayalam word muringa, both of which refer to M. oleifera.
The immature green pods called “drumstick” are probably the most valued and widely used part of the tree. They are commonly consumed in India and are generally prepared in a similar fashion to green beans and have a slight asparagus taste. The seeds are sometimes removed from more mature pods and eaten like peas or roasted like nuts. The flowers are ediblewhen cooked, and are said to taste like mushrooms. The roots are shredded and used as a condiment in the same way as horseradish; however, it contains the alkaloid spirochin, a potentially fatal nerve-paralyzing agent. The presence of this compound is not worrying because large amounts are required to elicit deleterious effects, and spirochin even displays antibacterial properties when consumed in smaller amounts.
The leaves are highly nutritious, being a significant source of beta-carotene, Vitamin C, protein, iron, and potassium. The leaves are cooked and used like spinach. In addition to being used fresh as a substitute for spinach, its leaves are commonly dried and crushed into a powder, and used in soups and sauces. Murungakai, as it is locally known in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, is used in Siddha medicine. The tree is a good source for calcium and phosphorus. In Siddha medicines, these drumstick seeds are used as a sexual virility drug for treating erectile dysfunction in men and also in women for prolonging sexual activity.
The leaves contain all essential amino acids and are rich in protein, vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C, and minerals. Feeding the high protein leaves to cattle has been shown to increase weight gain by up to 32% and milk production by 43 to 65%.
According to Dr. K. Shaine Tyson of Rocky Mountain Biodiesel Consulting, the de-greased meal contains 60% protein, 40% more than soybean meal. The de-fatted meal can also be used to purify water, settling out sediments and undesirable organisms.
Moringa also known as the Miracle Tree is a multipurpose plant, as the leaves, pods, fruits, flowers, roots and bark of the tree can be utilized. It is also referred to as Drumstick Tree by the Britishers. The specialty of this tree is that it actually bears fruits in the warm season.
Health Benefits of Moringa
There are many benefits of the moringa tree, but the health benefits are the most important. Research has proved that various parts of the moringa tree can be used to cure a minimum of 300 diseases. Lets see a few of them here:
- Moringa is rich in Vitamin A. It contains four times more Vitamin A or beta-carotene than carrots. Hence, it is a weapon against blindness.
- It is also a rich source of Vitamin C many times more than oranges.
- Normally milk is said to be a rich source of calcium but the amount of calcium present in moringa leaves is way higher than in milk.
- The moringa leaves are said to contain two times the protein present in milk.
- Bananas are a rich source of potassium. But moringa leaves contain seven times more potassium than bananas.
- Along with potassium, zinc is also found in large quantities in moringa.
- If moringa leaves were to be eaten by one and all, the world will be free of anemia as it contains three times more iron than spinach.
- With all the junk food eaten these days, many people face problems of high cholesterol. Moringa helps in balancing the cholesterol levels in the body.
- Essential Amino acids are also found in moringa.
- Moringa is also said to balance sugar levels, hence it is helpful in the fight against diabetes.
- The body’s natural defense mechanism increases with the consumption of moringa in the daily diet pattern. Since it is an immunity-stimulant, it is prescribed for AIDS afflicted patients. Less immunity is rampant in many provinces in Africa, especially people who do not have access to nutritious food and medicines.
- Moringa leaves can be consumed to stimulate metabolism.
- It is also said to have digestive powers.
- It is a nutrition booster and is known to promote a feeling of well-being in people.
- If you are looking for non-sugar based energy, then moringa leaves is the answer. Thus, it will also help in the weight loss process.
- The cell structure of the body is stimulated by the moringa leaves.
- It is especially useful for lactating mothers. The consumption of moringa has shown dramatic increase in the quantity of breast milk.
- It is also famous for its anti-bacterial properties.
- The paste of the moringa leaves is said to beautify the skin and is hence applied by women regularly.
- It protects the liver and kidneys.
- It can also be used as a water purifier.
Along with the health benefits of moringa, there are other benefits to it as well. They are enumerated below:
- It can be used as a source of biofuel.
- Cooking oil can also be produced from moringa tree. The health benefits of moringa oil, can be compared to sunflower oil and olive oil.
- It is used in the manufacture of cosmetics and personal care products. Perfumes and aromatherapy oils are also manufactured from moringa seeds. The flowers of the moringa plant can be used in making herbal tea, for they add a refreshing aroma to the tea.
- Moringa contains more than 90 nutrients and 46 types of antioxidants. With all the health benefits of moringa, it can easily be termed as the most nutritious plant on the face of the earth.
- There are no side-effects of moringa tree leaves which have been proved till date. At the same time it can be consumed by small children and adults alike. Therefore, many people have started using it in porridge, pastas, breads, etc., to reap the everlasting health benefits of the extraordinary ‘Moringa’.