Could moringa be the next superfood?

moringa tree

Moringa tree. Photo: Carrie Cizauskas / FlickR

The leaves of the moringa tree are set to become the next superfood, according to an article in the Huffington Post.

What makes moringa so special is that it has an astounding nutritional profile. “It’s like a multivitamin in natural form,” writes dietitian nutritionist, Mascha Davis.

Moringa contains all 9 essential amino acids; something usually only found in animal foods. It also has high quantities of vitamin A, vitamin C, iron and calcium.

“The plant leaves are bursting with antioxidants and a wide variety of polyphenols, phenolic acids as well as flavonoids and glucosinolates that provide a plethora of positive effects.”

Such substances have been found to lower blood sugar, regulate blood pressure and cholesterol and act as ant-iulcer, anti-tumor and anti-inflammatory agents, says Davis.

She believes the high protein content of moringa has potential to improve nutrition in places where families cannot afford animal protein.

Moringa leaves have a “delicate and flavorful” taste, “reminiscent of spinach but with slightly more bitterness and complexity”. The powdered form however is “grassy and earthy”.

moringa powder

Powder made from the leaves of the moringa tree

The moringa tree (Moringa oleifera) is native to India, Malaysia, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and the Republic of Yemen, however it is widely grown for erosion control, ornamental purposes and as a source of food, fodder, fibre and medicine. The tree is fast-growing and relatively drought tolerant.

In Nigeria, the organization Green World Campaign has founded a moringa-based social enterprise with tens of thousands of farmers who practice traditional agroforestry. The farmers are being encouraged to add more moringa trees to their plots to not only restore degraded land but develop a sustainable business.

More and more health food distributors in the United States are beginning to stock moringa­ particularly in powdered form­ as consumers become aware of its benefits. A range of moringa-based products including bars and energy drinks are also being developed.

Read the full story: So You Want a New Superfood? Meet Moringa

 

k.langford@cgiar.org'

Kate Langford

Kate Langford is a consultant writer with close to 20 years’ experience in communicating natural resource, environmental and land management issues for various government and non-government organizations. She previously worked as Communications Specialist for the World Agroforestry Centre in Kenya and has worked in Indonesia, Laos, Vietnam and Australia. She holds a Bachelor of Science and a Graduate Diploma in Scientific Communication.

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