Moringa: Health Benefits, Side Effects And How To Use

The Health Benefits of Moringa: Moringa oleifera, often known as “drumstick tree,” “tree of life,” and “wonder tree,” is one of the most nutritious plants on earth.

This plant is powerful because it contains a variety of nutritional and bioactive compounds, such as essential amino acids, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.

There are 13 different species in all, with the two most well-known ones being native to Northern India and East Africa.

A few species of this well-known plant are frequently highlighted, even in the most recent study.

According to Jerlyn Jones, MS, MPA, RDN, registered dietitian, certified LEAP therapist, and owner of The Lifestyle Dietitian, Moringa oleifera, Moringa stenopetala, Moringa concanensis, and Moringa peregrina are the only four species of the 13 now being studied.

The use of moringa in phytomedicine and ayurvedic medicine dates back to very early times. According to Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN, integrative dietitian and founder of Isabel Smith Nutrition, “the benefits of moringa were discovered long ago when used in Ayurveda medicine over 4,000 years ago.”

Ancient Indian Mauryan warriors who used moringa are said to have taken moringa leaves to increase their energy and strength, particularly during war. Moringa was also used by ancient Greeks, Romans, and Mauryan warriors. Moringa trees are now cultivated and used all over the world.

What is Moringa?

The Moringa plant can be eaten in its entirety. According to Jones, the leaves and immature seed pods of Moringa oleifera are used as food products, and the seeds, bark, roots, sap, and flowers are frequently utilized in traditional medicine.

The edible leaves are the most commonly used part of the plant, and in the US, dried leaves are marketed as dietary supplements in powdered or capsule form.

Health Benefits Of Moringa.

Many of its nutritional and health benefits are still being confirmed by modern medicine. Here are the top moringa health benefits and creative ways to use it:

It is incredibly Nutritious.

According to Lisa Curtis, founder and CEO of Kuli Kuli Foods, “Moringa leaves are one of the most nutrient-dense greens on earth, filled with protein, vital amino acids, 27 vitamins, and 46 antioxidants.”

This includes important vitamins and minerals like calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, and vitamin C.

Overall, moringa is abundant in macro-and micronutrients, as well as other bioactive substances that are essential for both the body's proper functioning and the prevention of many illnesses.

Related: 22 Powerful Foods For Boosting Your Immune System

It regulates blood sugar levels.

Although some people might find the flavor of this vegetable to be a touch too “earthy,” beets are loaded with nutrients that support the health of your liver. According to research, beetroot juice is a “disease-preventing” and “health-promoting” beverage that may be especially beneficial for liver function.

This edible herb may help stabilize your blood sugar levels. “Moringa is thought to help with blood sugar balance due to its chlorogenic acid and isothiocyanates,” Smith says.

Chlorogenic acid has the potential to regulate blood sugar levels by controlling the cells' uptake or release of glucose (sugar) after a meal.

Smith continues, “Studies have supported the use of moringa to aid with blood sugar balance, with positive benefits on fasting blood sugar levels, insulin levels, HbA1c, and overall blood glucose control in individuals who eat moringa powder.”

It may aid in digestion.

The fiber in moringa may aid in maintaining regularity if you frequently experience digestive issues like constipation. According to Curtis, “it contains both soluble and insoluble fibers.”

Both types of fiber provide numerous health benefits, particularly in terms of digestion. While insoluble fiber bulks up the stool to make it easier to transit through the digestive tract and so lessens constipation, soluble fiber dissolves in water and turns to gel, slowing digestion and keeping you fuller for longer.

Additionally, the nutrition profile of moringa includes compounds that support the growth of good bacteria in the stomach.

It fights against inflammation.

Inflammation is a physiological reaction that takes place in the body to ward off infection and repair damaged bodily tissue.

According to Smith, moringa contains nutrients that reduce inflammation, such as phytonutrients, antioxidants, and antimicrobial substances. Together, these potent substances combat oxidative stress, inflammation, and disease by specifically targeting free radicals (compounds that cause cell damage).

Quercetin, a strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory substance, and isothiocyanates, which support detoxification and have anti-inflammatory properties, are two substances of note, according to Smith.

According to one study, the distinct substances in moringa may be able to reduce the chronic diseases' low-grade inflammation.

It may support cognition and mood.

The effect of plant extracts such as moringa on cognition and mood enhancement is still being explored extensively.

Moringa may boost cognition given its amino acid and vitamin profile. “It contains tryptophan, a precursor of serotonin, also known as the happiness hormone,” Smith adds.

This feel-good hormone operates in the reward areas of your brain and “improves learning, motor function, and memory,” according to Curtis.

Moringa contains both vitamins C and E, which are strong antioxidants that help minimize oxidative damage to the brain, which is a crucial factor in the development of several cognitive impairments.

It might enhance your sex drive.

Are you aware that stress can impair sexual function? It can disrupt libido by boosting cortisol and lowering dopamine, the feel-good hormone.

Sexual function is a highly complex process involving the brain, hormones, emotions, nerves, and muscles, all of which are extremely sensitive to stress.

Many plants known to be aphrodisiacs have long been used to boost libido, and moringa could be one of them.

“Animal studies have revealed that moringa may increase testosterone and decrease cortisol, hence increasing libido,” Smith explains.

According to one animal study, moringa leaves may help with male sexual dysfunction caused by stress. Jones goes on to say that “human studies are required before strong conclusions can be drawn.”

It has anti-aging properties

Although there is no shame in becoming older, moringa is high in antioxidants such as flavonoids and polyphenols, which may help prevent early wrinkles and keep your skin looking young, according to a study.

“Its components have tremendous anti-inflammatory properties, and its anti-aging advantages on skincare are promising,” Jones explains.

You’ll feel more energized.

If you're seeking a caffeine-free energy boost, you should include moringa in your daily routine. “It's high in vitamins and minerals, particularly iron and vitamins C and D, which are important in energy metabolism,” Jones explains.

Moringa also contains B vitamins, which aid in the maintenance of long-term energy and the maintenance of good metabolic processes. And the good news is that you won't experience energy crashes, jitters, or anxiety, which are common negative effects of caffeinated beverages.

It may lower blood pressure.

If you suffer from high blood pressure, consistently consuming moringa may help, especially when combined with regular exercise and a nutrient-rich diet.

If you suffer from high blood pressure, consistently consuming moringa may help, especially when combined with regular exercise and a nutrient-rich diet. Moringa powder has antihypertensive properties due to the presence of quercetin. According to Curtis, this antioxidant reduces oxidative stress on the heart and helps to maintain blood pressure management systems in the body. 

The use of moringa may cause your blood pressure to drop too low if you are taking blood pressure drugs, so you should see your doctor before using it.

It may improve cholesterol.

The key to preventing heart disease is maintaining appropriate cholesterol levels. The good news is that, according to Smith, “moringa has the potential to lower cholesterol.”

In one study, moringa was found to have hypocholesterolemic (reducing lipids) and anti-atherescotic (preventing plaque accumulation in artery walls) properties that support a healthy heart.

Does moringa have side effects?

Because moringa is a potent herb, some people who consume it in excessive doses may develop stomach discomfort, abdominal pain, or other digestive problems. Avoid taking moringa if you're pregnant or nursing since the root, bark, and flowers contain potentially dangerous compounds, advises Smith.

Additionally, moringa and other medicines may interact. It's advised to start with a little dose of half to one teaspoon per day if you want to give moringa a try.

To be safe, it is advised to speak with your healthcare professional before adding moringa into your daily routine, according to Jones, who also notes that “above 70 grams of moringa daily may cause vitamin and mineral toxicity.”

Where Can I Buy Moringa?

Powder or supplement forms of moringa are widely available. The easiest method to use moringa safely is to carefully read the instructions on the food container. If you wish to experiment with the leaves and pods, you may probably find them at an international market. Consider the following tips when buying moringa:

  • Look for 100% pure, organic moringa leaves.
  • Moringa leaf powder should be kept in an airtight container in a cool, dark place.
  • Check the expiration date and shelf life; it should be used within six months of harvesting.

How to use moringa powder.

Moringa is adaptable and can be used in a wide range of recipes, from meals to snacks and beverages. Moringa tastes similar to matcha (green tea ground into a powdered form). It's difficult to explain, although it's been described as having an earthy, grassy, or green flavor.

“Some people like the taste of moringa, while others like to blend it with stronger and sweeter flavors, allowing the moringa to play a more complementary role,” Curtis explains. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Include it in your morning smoothie.
  • Mix in the hummus.
  • Combine with guacamole or your preferred dip.
  • Add it to soups and salads.
  • Combine with pesto or pasta sauce.
  • Make cookies and cakes with it.
  • Make tea by steeping the leaves in boiling water with your favorite sweetener.

Overall, moringa is a nutrient-dense plant that provides numerous health benefits when ingested on a daily basis. It's adaptable, making it an excellent addition to a variety of recipes.

There has been little research, and more human studies are needed to back up the health claims. Before adding moringa into your everyday routine, consult with your doctor.

Related: Best Daily Routines for a Healthy Life

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