Superfood #1: Moringa
Before beginning a series on the wonderful fruits and herbs grouped under the category superfood, we need to understand exactly what “superfood” means. There is no scientific definition nor does there exist a definition that a registered dietitian would endorse. The term was actually introduced by marketers to influence food trends and sell nutrient-rich products. This doesn’t mean that superfoods aren’t actually “super”, they’re just nutrient-rich and filled with antioxidants – which I have to admit is not as catchy.
But this doesn’t mean that superfoods are the solution to all your problems; no single food holds the key to good health or disease prevention. So ignore the posts that talk about the berry that cures cancer, the herb that prevents hair loss, or the oils that promote weight loss.
Instead, introduce these superfoods into your daily meal plan to get those extra fibers and maybe even benefit from the hidden properties that particular food has to offer. I’ve decided to begin with Moringa oleifera, commonly known simply as moringa, drumstick tree, horseradish tree, ben oil tree, or benzoil tree. Its the newest addition to the long list of superfoods and shows all the characteristics superfoods are known for!
1. Moringa boasts high nutrition values
Growing in dry and tropical climates, the scrappy moringa tree is a key ingredient in the fight against malnutrition and iron deficiencies. Most of the tree is also consumable: the leaves can be cooked, the long drumsticks added to curries and soups, the flowers and seeds fried and eaten, the roots shredded and used as a condiment. At Trees for Life, they break down the nutritional value of moringa leaves (per 100g) as follows:
|Carrots: 1890 mcg|
|Oranges: 30 mg|
|Calcium||440 mg||Cow’s milk: 120 mg|
|Potassium||259 mg||Bananas: 88 mg|
|Protein||6.7 gm||Cow’s milk: 3.2 gm|
As the table above demonstrates, moringa leaves are filled with much more nutrients than a whole host of other foods – including boasting more calcium and protein than milk!
2. Moringa is rich in antioxidants
Antioxidants are compounds that fight against free radicals in your body. Free radical cause oxidative stress and could lead to the development of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease or Type-2 diabetes. The two main antioxidants found in moringa leaves are:
- Quercetin which may help lower blood pressure.
- Chlorogenic acid which helps moderate blood sugar levels.
A study conducted on the effects of moringa leaf powder showed increased blood antioxidant levels in participants who consumed 7 grams of powder every day for three months.