MORINGA, A GIFT FROM NATURE
Updated: May 4, 2021
It seems too good to be true. A multipurpose tree that can fight malnutrition and grows in the most unfavorable areas where most of the other crops can’t survive. Is this just another “superfood” mania?
According to the vast scientific research on Moringa oleifera L., its nutritional value is indeed high. But there’s more. All parts of the plant are edible which is a very unusual quality for a tree and even most of the crops. Generally, plants are cultured for a single product, like fruit, seeds, or roots.
Moringa is extraordinary also because it contains high amounts of very different nutrients as other crops usually have high concentration of only one or few substances. Lemons are known for the high amount of vitamin C, carrots for vitamin A, bananas for potassium and beans for plant-based proteins. But for M. oleifera, word gets around that it contains more vitamin C than orange, more vitamin A than carrots, more calcium than milk, more proteins than yogurt, more potassium than bananas and at least 9-times more iron than spinach (Fuglie 2001, Mushtaq et al. 2021). Numerous chemical analyses reveil more detailed concentrations, and some of them you can find in the table below (Gopalakrishnam et al. 2016, Longvah et al. 2017, Mahfuz & Piao 2019, Yaseen & Hajos 2020):
Containing variety of nutrients has yet another advantage: higher bioavailability to our body. For example, the bioavailability of iron is significantly increased in the presence of vitamine C. And moringa has both. It is also a source of 18 out of 21 amino acids, among them all nine essential ones (that we don’t produce). Moringa leaves are rich in proteins; another peculiar thing for a leafy plant. And let’s not forget about the vitamins and number of antioxidative compounds.
Long before the moringa compounds were chemically analyzed, the plant has been known and used by Egyptians, Romans and Greeks. They were well aware of the moringa beneficial effects and it’s essential role was proven recently in fighting the malnutrition in the developing countries (Mushtaq et al. 2021). Besides food, moringa can be used for animal feed, cosmetics, pharmacy, biofuels, fertilizers or even form water purification. We will cover its uses in the coming posts, together with other interesting facts, like products from moringa, how to grow it and recipes for tasty food.
Did you know?
Moringa oleifera is also called drumstick tree (from long sledner seedpods), horseradish tree (roots taste similar to horseradish), ben oil tree (ben oil derived from the seeds contains behenic acid), mother’s best friend (providing mothers in developing countries with vital nutrition) and the Miracle tree (due to all benefits it provides).
Fuglie L. 2001. The Miracle Tree: The Multiple Attributes of Moringa. CTA Publication, Wageningen, The Netherlands. Pp 117–136 in Combating Malnutrition with Moringa.
Gopalakrishnam L., Doriya K., Kumar D.S. (2016): Moringa oleifera: A review on nutritive importance and its medicinal application. Food Science and Human Wellness 5:49; doi: 10.1016/j.fshw.2016.04.001
Longvah T., Ananthan R., Bhaskarachary K., Venkaiah K. (2017): Indian Food Composition Tables. National Institute of Nutrition, Indian Council of Medical Research, Dpt. of Health Research, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India.
Mahfuz S., Piao X.S. (2019): Application of Moringa (Moringa oleifera) as Natural Feed Supplement in Poultry Diets. Animals 9:431; doi: 10.3390/ani9070431
Mushtaq B.S. (2021): Moringa oleifera in Malnutrition: A Comprehensive Review. Curr Drug Discov Technol 18(2):235–243. doi: 10.2174/1570163816666191105162722
Yaseen A., Hajos M.T. (2020): Study on moringa tree (Moringa oleifera Lam.) leaf extract in organic vegetable production: A review. Res. on Crops 21(2):402; doi: 10.31830/2348–7542.2020.067