While some trees stand out for specific benefits, others like moringa are exceptional plants that offer numerous health benefits.
Moringa is rich in several vitamins, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory compounds that makes it helpful in lowering blood sugar, improving bone health, increasing energy levels, to mention a few.
In this article, we would extensively discuss the many benefits of this plant, touching base with its uses, especially as an adaptogen and as a substitute for coffee, how to prepare them, and their possible side effects/downsides.
So, if you’re looking for a well-rounded piece of information on this plant, you’re in the right place. Let’s dig in already!
What is Moringa?
Moringa Oleifera, often called ‘the miracle tree,’ ‘the drumstick tree,’ ‘the ben oil tree,’ or ‘horseradish tree,’ is a plant native to India but commonly grown in Africa, Asia, and South America.
Moringa, praised for its numerous health benefits, has been used for centuries in folk medicine. Packed with nutrients, this “miracle tree” stands out for its antifungal, antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral properties.
Benefits of Moringa Oleifera
Rich In Vitamins And Healthy Compounds
Moringa is an excellent source of many vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin C, B1 (Thiamine), B2 (Riboflavin), B3 (Niacin), B6, A, calcium, potassium, zinc, phosphorous, magnesium, iron, and folate.
Interestingly, the leaves have seven times more vitamin C than oranges (1) and fifteen times more potassium than a banana (2). Though the pods have fewer nutrients than the leaves, they are equally edible and useable for traditional herbal medicines.
Rich in Antioxidants
Antioxidants protect cells from damage and boost the immune system. They do so by fighting free radicals in the body responsible for oxidative stress linked to chronic health conditions like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and more.
Moringa contains several antioxidant compounds, including vitamin C for protection against cellular damage (3), beta-carotene for eye health (4), chlorogenic acids that regulate blood sugar (5), and quercetin that helps lower blood pressure (6).
Research shows that moringa is also effective for improving antioxidant levels in post-menopausal women who have their antioxidant enzyme system affected by low estrogen levels.
In our article, the truth about cholesterol, we affirmed that inflammation is the root cause of heart disease and many other conditions, including cancers and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. Though inflammation is the body’s natural protective mechanism to infection, strain, or injury, it becomes harmful when the process prolongs.
The anti-inflammatory effect of moringa stands out as one of its most tremendous benefits in folk medicine for treating diseases, and studies indicate that isothiocyanates are the main anti-inflammatory compounds.
Uses of Moringa
- To Reduce Tiredness & Fatigue: There are fairly many ways of boosting energy, and moringa contains healthy amounts of iron equally essential for reducing tiredness and body fatigue. Its rich Vitamin A contents foster the metabolism of iron, ensuring even more uptake.
- For Protecting and Nourishing Skin/Hair: Moringa contains six times more antioxidants than berries and almost the same number of antioxidant compounds as matcha. These antioxidants combine powerfully with their surplus amount of vitamin A and E to foster radiant skin, protect cells from oxidative stress, repair, and prevent cell damage. Thus, naturally slowing down the aging process of the skin.
- Lower Blood Sugar and Treat Diabetes: Various research indicates that moringa can balance blood sugar and be effective for treating diabetes. A study suggests that moringa boosts insulin production and lowers blood sugar. Another shows that moringa reduces post-meal blood sugar spikes in diabetic patients.
- Lower Cholesterol: High cholesterol and prolonged inflammation are a deadly duo linked to many cardiovascular conditions, including heart disease, hypertension, heart failure, cardiac arrest, and more. While lifestyle changes like frequent exercise and complete meal revamp, such as increasing soluble fiber intake and reducing saturated fats, can help lower cholesterol levels, studies show that moringa intake equally offers cholesterol-lowering effects.
- Improve Bone Health: Moringa Oleifera leaves contain high amounts of calcium, protein, and vitamin K essential for bone health.
- Protect The Liver: The liver is the body’s hub for fighting toxins, including filtering blood and metabolizing fat. So, finding ways to support your liver health is crucial to your body’s overall performance. With its high concentrations of polyphenols, moringa can help reverse oxidation, reduce liver fibrosis and protect the lover against damage (7, 8).
- Treat Stomach Complaints: Moringa is a rich source of calcium and fiber (mostly insoluble) that contributes to digestive enzymes’ normal functions and supports bowel regularity and healthy metabolism. As a natural antibacterial and antibiotics, moringa can also help inhibit the growth of pathogens that could cause digestive upset while improving good gut bacteria.
- As Adaptogens: Adaptogens are non-toxic herbs known for centuries for their healing and anti-anxiety abilities. Moringa is an excellent source of adaptogens and will increase the body’s fight against physical, chemical, or biological stress, similarly to ashwagandha.
How To Take Moringa
Moringa is available in capsules, powder, extract forms, or dried seeds and pods. Although there isn’t a standard recommended dosage for moringa, it is advised to follow the daily dosage listed on the product packaging. So, how do you take moringa?
First, you can consume the seed (inner kernel) by removing the pod and fibrous cover (similarly to a sunflower). It is best to start small, say two seeds a day because of its laxative effect, then add more paying attention to your body’s response.
It is also possible to add moringa to foods and drinks in the following ways:
- You can add small amounts of moringa powder to your morning green smoothies
- Add moringa into your baked treats, including buckwheat carrot cake
- You can sprinkle moringa powder into soups like Thai cauliflower soup, Artichoke dill soup, or beet salad.
- You could also add moringa powder to teas and broths.
- Whisk moringa into hot water as a coffee substitute
Moringa as a Coffee Substitute?
As an excellent natural adaptogen and rich source of iron and calcium, moringa fosters energy release similarly to caffeine and can be a perfect substitute for coffee. So, how do the two compare? Is moringa better than coffee? Let’s see!
The effect of caffeine hits its peak 15 to 45minutes after ingestion, offering a temporary spike in energy but increasing blood pressure, heart rate, cortisol secretion, and other inflammatory response. This spike in energy will meet a sharp crash/decline after a while. Thus, causing jittering & crashes for some persons, affects sleep patterns, and unsuitable for patients with adrenal fatigue.
On the other hand, moringa provides more sustained energy and essential nutrients linked to numerous health benefits without triggering inflammatory responses like increased heart rate or cortisol secretion.
Downsides and Side Effects of Moringa Intake
- Moringa leaves contain high amounts of anti-nutrients, that could reduce the absorption of minerals and protein (9)
- While moringa leaves and pods are safe for pregnant women, ingesting the bark, root or flowers can cause uterine contraction.
- Moringa is effective for lowering blood pressure. So, combining it with drugs that lower blood pressure can lead to very low blood pressure.
Overall, moringa is a remarkable plant with numerous health benefits so much that it is nicknamed “the miracle tree.” It is rich in antioxidants, nutrient-packed, and possesses excellent anti-inflammatory abilities.
Although there isn’t a standard dosage, moringa is possibly safe when consumed in the right amount (written on product packaging) and would provide a sustained energy boost alongside other benefits. It is a perfect substitute for coffee, offering similar anti-stress effects but with no jittering, crashes, or impact on sleep patterns.