Never heard of moringa? It's time you did! Moringa oleifera, a tree that's native to Nepal and India, is often referred to as the "tree of life" or "miracle tree", such are the health benefits of the plant. With a range of nutritional properties to boast about, moringa leaves are the most commonly used part of the drumstick tree.
Moringa Oleifera root and moringa seeds are also used for their healthful properties, but the focus for today's discussion will solely be moringa leaves - and there's a lot to say about them!
One of the lesser-known superfoods in the western world, moringa leaves and moringa powder (made from ground moringa leaves) have proven highly effective in a whole host of medicinal uses, and is especially popular in Ayurveda.
If you're keen to learn more about the benefits of moringa leaves, you've come to the right place! Let's get straight into it.
1. Great Source Of Vitamins and Minerals
There's an impressive number of vitamins and minerals found in moringa, and you don't need a big dose of moringa leaf extract to benefit from what the leaves offer. Moringa leaves don't have a single standout vitamin or mineral to boast of - rather, they contain everything from iron to vitamin C, riboflavin to potassium. Moringa powder is also a great source of magnesium, and vitamin E and A.
It's impossible to say why moringa leaves aren't more widely discussed for their impressive nutritional value, especially as they contain a higher concentration of vitamin C than the go-to citrus fruit, orange. We all know that this vitamin is particularly important in the body, especially when it comes to supporting vision, skin and bone health.
2. May Enhance Sexual Performance
Admitting to a doctor that you're having problems in the bedroom isn't easy, and many people prefer to find their own natural remedies for improving sexual performance. Treating the cause of the problem is often the best idea, particularly if your sex life has been affected by stress. If your own experience with stress increases your cortisol and reduces your dopamine levels, it's no wonder your libido is lower than normal.
Interestingly, moringa has proven in studies to reduce cortisol levels (a good thing), and give a natural boost to testosterone levels, too, helping to improve sexual performance on the whole. It's worth noting that so far, studies on the effect of moringa oleifera on stress and sex life have only been carried out on rats, but it's well worth adding moringa leaves to your diet for this purpose nevertheless.
3. Plant-Based Protein Source
There are many benefits of going vegan - you're doing your bit for the environment, reducing the need for animal exploitation, and making positive, healthy changes to your diet in the meantime. It's a common misconception that meat and animal products are our only key sources of protein, and many plant-based foods actually contain a higher quantity of protein per gram than typical protein sources like eggs and chicken.
Moringa-leaves are a great source of plant-based protein, and they're completely low-fuss, too. You don't need to cook them or even prepare them if you're simply looking to add a high-protein kick to your smoothies or soups. You can buy moringa powder for even more convenience, and most powders contain at least 3g of protein in a single tablespoon.
Moringa powder tends to be better than plant-based sources like beans and tofu, too, as they're a full source of all the essential amino acids we need for repairing muscles, regulating mood, boosting energy, and more.
4. May Fight Free Radicals
Free radicals can be created by a whole host of environmental factors, from unhealthy foods to pollution and UV rays. The big problem with free radical buildup in the body is that they alter the makeup of cells, removing an electron, which can result in cell damage and oxidative stress. It's common for free radicals to cause early aging, and they may even lead to the formation of cancer cells.
Moringa oleifera contains flavonoids and polyphenols, which are known as free radical-fighting antioxidants, and can prevent your body from being influenced by these damaging external factors. Antioxidant-rich diets have even proven in studies to help people live longer - a very persuading reason to add moringa oleifera leaves to your diet!
You might think you're free of inflammation, but not all symptoms of inflammation are obvious. When you're suffering from chronic inflammation, you may feel fatigued, have abdominal or chest pain, feel depressed or anxious, have frequent infections, or have gastrointestinal disorders such as acid reflux and diarrhea. Just as inflammation is partly caused by bad foods in our diet, healthy foods have been shown to reduce inflammation - and moringa oleifera is one of them.
Moringa contains polyphenols and isothiocyanates, both of which have been proven to lower levels of inflammation. The anti-inflammatory health benefits of moringa don't stop there, either - studies have found that extracts from the moringa tree can actually suppress proteins and enzymes that result in inflammation all over the body.
So you may be at a lower risk of diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart disease if you get into the habit of taking moringa supplements on a daily basis.
6. Offers Liver Protection
The liver is one of the most important organs in the body when it comes to detoxification. The role of the liver is to filter the bad stuff out of the blood - hence detoxing - and help the body to metabolize fat. Research suggests that one of the impressive health benefits of moringa is its ability to be used to protect the liver and encourage healthy functioning.
Because it contains a high quantity of polyphenols, moringa may be able to reverse liver oxidation (which is bad, as it results in the death of important cells). Emerging research even suggests that moringa leaves can reduce the damage caused by liver disorders, and even protect against this damage in the first place.
7. Maintains Normal Hormone Levels
When your hormones are out of whack, you can feel like a completely different person. Though it's difficult to control the body's hormones, research suggests that moringa powder may be of use, particularly to postmenopausal women.
According to one study, taking moringa leaf powder can increase levels of hemoglobin, encouraging controlled hormone production. Additionally, extracts from the moringa tree have proven effective in supporting a healthy thyroid.
Because the thyroid plays a big part in controlling our hormones, this may be another reason why moringa leaves may help to maintain "normal" hormone levels.
8. May Improve Digestion
Bring high in insoluble fiber, moringa leaves are a great food for digestive health. We all need insoluble fiber for helping food pass more quickly through the intestines and the stomach, as well as supporting bowel health and reducing diabetes risk.
But it's not only being fiber-rich that makes Moringa so impressive when it comes to digestive benefits. This healthful food is also antibiotic and anti-bacterial, and has proven effective in inhibiting the growth of many pathogens that lead to digestive issues. Some people use moringa purely for treating digestive disorders, and one recent study even found that it can help support gut bacteria.
9. Supports Brain Health
A worryingly high percentage of adults go on to have disrupted brain health in older age, with many people developing Alzheimer's disease once they pass the age of 65. There's no magic food or medication that will eliminate the risk of degenerative brain diseases entirely, but emerging research suggests that our overall diet and lifestyles can make us more or less prone to the issue.
Moringa contains both vitamin E and C These vitamins are touted for their ability to battle oxidative stress, which has been linked to neuron degeneration and the development of Alzheimer's. In emerging studies, moringa shows promise in fighting the processes that may result in dementia and Alzheimer's. Adding more of this plant-based food to your diet may help to ward off brain disease in the future.
That's not all moringa can do when it comes to brain health, either - with its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, we may be able to use moringa leaves or seeds to increase the brain's happy hormones - namely dopamine and serotonin - and perhaps even treat mental illnesses like depression.
10. Decreases Blood Sugar Levels
We all rely on our blood sugar and insulin levels remaining relatively consistent, but we've all experienced a high blood sugar spike - it makes you feel irritable and shaky, and give you a craving for sugary foods.
At worst, prolonged high blood sugar can result in obesity and type 2 diabetes. Luckily, new evidence has found that moringa leaf powder can be used to reduce blood sugar levels and regulate oxidative stress that's linked to diabetes.
In one study, moringa's antioxidant-rich properties were cited as the reason behind its ability to lower blood sugar levels in participants who supplemented with moringa leaves for 3 months. In another study, moringa was even found to help protect against insulin resistance and prevent weight gain.
11. Promotes Healthy Skin
Moringa contains vitamin E and A - essential for healthy, young-looking, glowing skin. Because moringa is high in antioxidants, it can protect against cellular damage and prevent free radicals from harming the skin. This means that including moringa as part of a healthy skin diet should reduce your risk of early aging, skin dryness, and wrinkles.
Being rich in iron, moringa can also give your skin a healthful glow by activating certain B-vitamins that promote the formation of healthy new skin cells. On a similar subject, you can also benefit from moringa's hair health properties, with its proteins, minerals and vitamins helping to promote thick, shiny hair.
12. Supports Immunity
Finally, being rich in vitamin A and iron, moringa shows promise in supporting the immune system and helping to ward off illnesses and infections. Vitamin A is anti-inflammatory and enhances immune function, while iron supports immune development. A deficiency in iron can make you more susceptible to illness, so it's important to make sure you're getting enough of it on a daily basis.
Moringa leaves are also rich in amino acids, which are involved in activating certain disease-fighting lymphocytes and promoting the production of antibodies, which are essential for the normal functioning of the immune system.
Moringa Side Effects
Moringa seed and bark may be harmful if consumed in very large amounts, but the leaves themselves are considered safe to consume and have very few side effects.
Because moringa can lower blood pressure and slow your heart rate, it's wise not to consume it in excess or take it alongside medication that lowers blood pressure. Some research suggests that moringa may reduce fertility, too, so you might want to avoid it if you're pregnant or trying for a baby. Consult your doctor for medical advice if you're ever unsure about whether to take moringa as an alternative medicine or just to benefit your overall health.
With benefits including weight management, anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties, wound healing, and much more, it's easy to see why so many people use moringa extract for its various positive health effects. If you're struggling to find moringa leaves at your local health store, head online, where you'll find moringa seeds, moringa powder, moringa bark extract, moringa vitamin capsules, and dried and fresh leaves, to name a few.