Meet Moringa Oleifera (scientific name).
It is indigenous to India and Nepal, where it is known as drumstick tree or miracle tree. Nowadays it is also grown in Africa and Latin America where they call it the horseradish tree.
With its high nutritive values, every part of the tree is suitable for either nutritional or commercial purposes. The leaves, bark, flowers, fruit, seeds, and root of the tree all have medicinal properties. Oil from Moringa seeds is used in foods, perfumes and hair care products, and as a machine lubricant. The seed cake remaining after oil extraction can be used as a green fertiliser and also to purify well water and to remove salt from seawater.
The flowers of moringa are used to make tea with hypocholesterolemic (low cholesterol) properties. Moringa flowers which taste like mushrooms when fried, are great sources of nectar and are used by beekeepers.
The green pods that look like sticks (hence called drumsticks) are used in many dishes like sambhar, while the leaves are cooked like spinach, and they are also dried and powdered for use as a condiment.
Moringa powder is a superfood that has a number of health benefits and has been used in phytomedicine and Ayurvedic treatment for thousands of years. Dried and ground Moringa leaf powder has a mild flavour with a slightly earthy taste, so it goes well with many different recipes. Extracts from the leaves are also used to treat malnutrition and to augment breast milk in lactating mothers.
One cup of chopped Moringa leaves is rich in vitamins and minerals, like iron and potassium.
Moringa contains 92 nutrients, 46 antioxidants, 36 anti-inflammatories and 18 amino acids which help your body heal and build muscle. Moringa can contribute to everything from better vision and immunity to bone health and skin radiance.
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According to Ranjith Kumar, CEO, AVKR Moringa Promise Wellness, an organic farm in Cumbum Valley, Tamil Nadu, “Inspired by the ever growing demand for certified Indian organic moringa food products in the global market, I started the organic farming of Moringa on 5 acres and got it certified by ECOCERT.” Ranjith plans to export to the US and UK markets. His brand is available on India Mart.
Moringa has two times the protein in Yoghurt, three times the potassium in Bananas, four times the Vitamin A in carrots and 7 times the Vitamin C in oranges and four times the Calcium in milk. While 8 ounces of milk can provide only 300-400 mg of calcium, Moringa leaves can provide 1000 mg and moringa powder can provide more than 4000 mg. Moringa powder can be used as a substitute for iron tablets and hence as a treatment for anemia.
Moringa has many health benefits:
Normalises blood sugar
Improves wound healing
Enhances skin health
Strengthens immune system
Increases energy and endurance
Stimulates hair growth
Increases mental clarity
Moringa can be grown easily and can withstand both severe drought and mild frost conditions and hence is widely cultivated across the world. That is why it is an important food source in some parts of the world. Moringa is used in India and Africa in feeding programs to fight malnutrition.
Moringa can also be preserved for a long time without loss of nutrients. Drying or freezing can be done to store the leaves. Preservation by dehydration improves the shelf life of Moringa without change in nutritional value.
A word of caution - talk to your doctor before taking Moringa supplements if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.