With distinctions going back centuries, moringa appears to provide excellent health benefits, but does the science agree? Registered nutritionist, Kerry Torrens, explores what we know about this intriguing plant.
What is moringa oleifera?
A tree, native to South Asia and Africa, moringa oleifera has a number of colloquial names including the 'miracle tree' because of its alleged healing abilities, and the 'horseradish tree' thanks to its botanical household, the brassicas. Almost all parts of the tree can be consumed, including the leaves, bark, roots, sap and flowers, although it's the leaf extracts which appear to use the best protective, antioxidant homes.
The tree is an essential source of nourishment in developing nations where poor nutrition is a significant concern. In the Western world, the dried leaves are most likely to be sold as a food supplement in either a powder or pill type.
A 10g serving of moringa powder contains:
1. Rich source of protective antioxidants
Antioxidant compounds, consisting of nutrients and phytochemicals, help protect cells from the damage incurred by molecules called totally free radicals, these are produced by the body when exposed to ecological toxins like pesticides and cigarette smoke. Moringa, and most notably its leaves, are rich in a variety of advantageous compounds which offer antioxidant protection. These consist of vitamin C and beta-carotene in addition to polyphenols, such as quercetin, rutin and chlorogenic acid.
2. Might help blood sugar control
The majority of the evidence supporting the use of moringa for balancing blood glucose has actually been based on animal research studies-- these suggest that substances in the leaves may stimulate the cells of the pancreas, which are accountable for the secretion of the blood-sugar balancing hormonal agent, insulin.
A fascinating study looking at the results of the leaf powder on postmenopausal female showed that taking 1 1/2 teaspoons of moringa leaf powder every day for three months lowered fasting blood sugar levels by an average of 13.5 per cent. This suggests that moringa might be helpful in attending to a few of the physiological changes experienced by mid-life women.
3. Might have anti-inflammatory advantages
Swelling plays a pivotal role in the advancement of many chronic health problems, from obesity and diabetes to arthritis. The root, fruit and leaves of moringa consist of substances which hinder this inflammatory procedure. Both animal and test tube studies support the use of moringa, although there are still fairly couple of studies confirming these impacts in humans.
4. May protect the liver
The liver is necessary for maintaining our health and processing nutrients from our diet. In animal studies, moringa's high levels of protective substances called polyphenols helped protect the liver and promote healing of harmed tissue.
Extremely current human trials recommend a possible function for moringa as an anti-cancer drug for liver cancer.
5. Might assist cognitive function
The rich antioxidant homes of moringa may support cognitive function and be useful in the battle against cognitive decline, along with conditions like dementia and Alzheimer's. In addition to this, it would appear that the plant may be useful in supporting mood, memory and neurotransmitter balance, with animal research studies suggesting the leaf extract might be useful for depression.
Studies to date in all of these areas look promising, however there's still much for us to find out about this plant and its numerous reputed advantages.
Is moringa safe for everybody?
It is normally thought about safe to eat the leaves and seed pods, however care ought to be worked out over the bark and pulp. This is especially relevant during pregnancy because the bark contains chemicals which might promote uterine contractions and might increase the risk of miscarriage.
Those on recommended medication consisting of high blood pressure tablets, diabetes medication and levothyroxine must consult their GP or pharmacist to guarantee moringa is appropriate for their use.