About the Moringa Oleifera Tree
Every part of Moringa Oleifera is useful. Many parts of the tree have traditionally been used for treating many diseases like lung diseases, hypertension, chest infections, everyday aches and pains as well as skin infections.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has undertaken scientific researches on the moringa plant, and has come to the conclusion that it is extremely nutritional and medicinal. The benefits have also been documented in some medical and nutritional journals as well.
Moringa Oleifera is among the popular power greens such as wheat grass, chlorella and spirulina. Moringa is rich in minerals like potassium, iron, calcium, and sulfur, as well as B vitamins and many amino acids, including all of the essential amino acids. Its nutritional profile is competitive with any beneficial plant on the planet. For example:
· One half cup of cooked leaves will meet your daily recommendation for Vitamins A and C.
. One half cup of pods (raw) will supply your Vitamin C requirement for a day
· One ounce of raw leaves contains the recommended daily amount of Vitamin C
· Ounce per ounce it contains 6 to 7 times the amount of Vitamin C in orange juice
· Moringa leaves contain 3 to 5 times more beta-carotene than carrots
· 3 oz of moringa powder contains more than 10 times the recommended daily amount of Vitamin E
· Ounce per ounce Moringa leaves contain over 3 times the iron as found in spinach or roast beef
· Moringa leaves contain 3 times the amount of potassium as bananas
· Ounce per ounce Moringa leaves contain 4 times the amount of calcium found in milk
It is reported to be a very hardy plant that can grow in very dry climates, though it will grow bigger and faster with more water. With proper care and watering they can grow up to 16 feet in a year. It is recommended however, to cut it back and keep it short and bushy for ease of harvesting the leaves and pods.
The tender young pods (referred to as drumsticks) can be cooked like asparagus. Older green pods can be cooked much like okra, and the inner flesh scraped out and eaten. I recommend eating the leaves sparingly raw as they are very potent. They can accent a salad or be cooked like collards or other greens. The leaves can be dried and powdered and used in drinks or teas. So it has a myriad of ways that it can be consumed and enjoyed.
Caution: Moringa flowers can act as an abortifacient so do not use in pregnancy. The flower buds and blossoms should be cooked. They can be made into a tea, as well as fried by themselves or battered and fried. The flowers can be used as a natural pesticide, as insects and other pests are repelled by the flower essence.
Seeds can be used to purify water.
Moringa Oleifera seedlings
We Are What We Eat
Modern food processing and farming methods have robbed much of our food of the nutritive qualities that make it healthy for our bodies. With the advent of big agribusiness (mega-corporate farming), the use of pesticides, fungicides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers have significantly increased crop yields, but this heavy use of chemicals has produced fruits and vegetables that are not as high in nutrients as they have been historically.
The fact that our food is less nutritious is made worse when you consider what happens to food once it leaves the farm. For convenience, safety and marketing purposes, food is subjected to all kinds of preserving, irradiating, heating and treating that changes the nature of food from its natural state. Most major food companies pay more attention to packaging and marketing than the preservation of the nutritional content of the food.
We believe that through the growing of Moringa along with other organic foods, one can achieve nutritional freedom and return to an era when the food we eat is pure and unadulterated. Moringa may be the closest thing to a multi-vitamin in a single plant source, helping to fill in any gaps that may exist in one's normal diet, thus helping to provide one with all of the nutrition one needs to live a long and healthy life. And it is relatively maintenance free.
Moringa - The Miracle Tree / The Tree of Life
Moringa Oleifera leaves and pods contain 90+ nutrients, 46 antioxidants, and 36 anti-inflammatory compounds. Researchers are calling it the most nutrient rich plant on earth.
Here are a few of the many nutritional benefits of Moringa Oleifera, the Miracle Tree:
PROTEIN: Moringa leaves are about 40% protein, with all of the 9 essential amino acids present in various amounts (histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, valine). Moringa is considered to have the highest protein ratio of any plant so far studied on earth. Moringa has protein quality and quantity similar to soy beans, but there are no reports of Moringa triggered allergies so it can be used for baby nutrition replacing soy. Moringa is not genetically modified or altered by humans.
VITAMINS: Moringa is a vitamin treasure trove. The amounts of beta-carotene, Vitamin C and Vitamin E found in Moringa exceed those amounts commonly found in most other plants.
Beta-carotene (pro-vitamin A): Moringa leaves contain more beta-carotene than carrots, about three to five times more, ounce per ounce. There is about 7-8 mg of beta-carotene in 100g (about 3 oz). The daily recommended value is about 1 mg. The body produces Vitamin A from beta-carotene. It is believed that Vitamin A is the most important vitamin for immune protection against all kinds of infections. It is involved in healing and bone development. Beta-carotene guards against heart disease and can keep harmful lipoproteins containing cholesterol from damaging the heart and coronary arteries. It also helps prevent certain types of cancers and stroke. To provide the best anti-cancer protection, beta-carotene should be present with Vitamin C and Vitamin E, and Selenium. Moringa has them all.
Vitamin C: Just one ounce of Moringa leaves contains the daily recommended amount of Vitamin C (60 mg). In fact, it is so rich in Vitamin C that, ounce per ounce, it contains 6 – 7 times that found in orange juice. Vitamin C strengthens our immune system and fights infectious diseases including colds and flu.
Vitamin E: Moringa contains large amounts of Vitamin E, at 113 mg per 100 g (about 3 oz) of the dried leaf powder. The recommended daily intake of Vitamin E is 10 mg. Vitamin E is a potent anti-oxidant that helps prevent premature aging and degenerative diseases including heart disease, arthritis, diabetes and cancer. It also protects the body from pollution, increases stamina and reduces or prevents hot flashes in menopause. It promotes young-looking skin, as well as healing and reducing scar tissue from forming.
Vitamin B1 (Thiamin): Moringa leaves contain high amounts of Vitamin B1 even compared with the best sources already known. It is higher than green peas, black beans (boiled) and corn (boiled). Vitamin B1 is vital for the production of energy in each cell and it plays an essential role in the metabolism of various carbohydrates.
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): Moringa leaves compare with broccoli and spinach in Vitamin B2 content. Vitamin B2 is required for the production of energy, proper use of oxygen and the metabolism of amino acids, fats and carbohydrates. It is needed to activate vitamin B6 and assist the adrenal glands. It is important for red blood cell formation, antibody production and growth. And it is required for healthy mucus membranes, skin, and for the absorption of iron and certain vitamins.
Vitamin B3 (Niacin): Moringa leaves and pods contain about 0.5 – 0.8 mg of Vitamin B3 per 100 grams (about 3 ounces). Recommended daily intake is 18 mg. Vitamin B3 is important for energy production and metabolism of protein, fats and carbohydrates. It supports the function of the digestive system and promotes healthy skin and nerves. Vitamins B1, B2 and B3 work synergistically.
Choline: Moringa leaves and pods contain about 423 mg of Choline per 100 g (3 oz). Diet recommendations call for about 400-550 mg/day. Choline is critical for normal membrane structure and cellular function. It is used by the kidneys to maintain water balance and by the liver for synthesis of various compounds. It is used to produce the important neurotransmitter acetylcholine. It is also vital for the developing fetus and infant.
Calcium: Ounce per ounce, Moringa leaves contain far higher amounts of calcium than most plants, and 4 times the amount of calcium found in milk. Calcium builds strong bones and teeth and helps prevent osteoporosis.
Iron: Ounce per ounce, Moringa leaves contain over three times the amount of iron found in roast beef, and three times that found in spinach. Iron is necessary for many functions in the body including formation of hemoglobin, brain development and function, regulation of body temperature and muscle activity. Iron is essential for binding oxygen to the blood cells. The central function of iron is oxygen transport and cell respiration.
Potassium: Bananas are an excellent source of potassium but ounce per ounce, Moringa leaves contain three times the potassium of bananas. Potassium is essential for the brain and nerves.
Other minerals that Moringa contains include selenium, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, copper and sulfur.
ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS: Moringa oleifera leaves and seeds contain beneficial essential fatty acids (EFA’s). Moringa seeds contain between 30-42% oil, with 13% saturated fats and 82% unsaturated fatty acids. Oleifera is the Latin term for “oil containing.” About 73% of the Moringa oil is oleic acid, while in most beneficial plant oils, oleic acid only contributes up to 40%. Olive oil is about 75% oleic acid, and sunflower is about 20%. Oleic acid is linked to lower rates of cardiovascular disease, neurological disease, artherosclerosis, infections, and certain types of cancer, and it helps to regulate blood glucose levels.
OTHER NUTRIENTS FOUND IN MORINGA:
CHLOROPHYLL: Moringa is one of the few foods that contain chlorophyll together with so many other nutrients. Chlorophyll is often referred to as the ‘blood of plants.” Studies have shown that it supports liver function and detoxification of the body.
BETA-SITOSTEROL: Beta-sitosterol is a specific plant sterol which has been shown to reduce blood cholesterol levels and also improve other blood lipid levels, bringing them to a more normal range. Plant sterols like beta-sitosterol are also proven to be very beneficial in preventing and treating prostate enlargement due to aging, and have been found to reduce the growth of prostate and colon cancer cells. Beta-sitosterol also boosts the immune system, has anti-inflammatory properties, helps normalize blood sugar, supports the pancreas, helps to heal ulcers and can alleviate cramps.
ZEATIN: Biochemical analysis has revealed that the Moringa leaves and leaf powder contain unusually high amounts of plant hormones named cytokinins, such as zeatin and the related dihyrozeatin. Scientists have found zeatin in very low concentrations in plants, with zeatin concentrations varying between .00002 mcg/g material to .02 mcg/g. The zeatin concentration in Moringa leaves gathered from various parts of the world was found to be very high, between 5 mcg and 200 mcg/g material, or thousands of times more concentrated than most plants studied so far.
Cytokinins function as plant hormones, which are naturally occurring growth promoters and factors that delay the process of aging in many plants. In cultured human cells, cytokinins have proven to delay biochemical modifications associated with aging. Zeatin has potent antioxidant properties, and has been shown to protect the skin and increase the activity of known anti-oxidant enzymes that naturally fight aging. It has also been shown to protect animals against neuronal toxicity induced by age specific factors, and in the laboratory setting, to inhibit cancer cell growth and induce their differentiation back into normal cells.
LUTEIN: Moringa has extraordinary amounts of lutein. 100 g of leaves contain more than 70 mg, while the recommended daily amount for the best protective antioxidant activity is 5 – 20 mg for an adult. Lutein promotes healthy eyes by reducing the risk of macular degeneration.
CAFFEOYLQUINIC ACIDS: Moringa leaves contain 0.5 – 1% caffeoylquinic acids, coming very close to the content that makes artichokes famous. Caffeoylquinic acids are antioxidants considered to be choleretic (bile increasing which helps to digest dietary fats), hepatoprotective (effective against hepatitis and other liver diseases), cholesterol-reducing, and diuretic.
NOTE: Complex mixtures of naturally occurring antioxidants from plants are the most effective and beneficial protectors against oxidation and aging. Moringa contains many other antioxidants including alpha carotene, xanthins, kaempferol, quercetin, and rutin.
“He who plants a tree, plants a hope.”
Lucy Larcou – “Plant a Tree”
Growing and Harvesting Moringa
Cultivation of Moringa Seeds – Plant seeds one inch deep; keep the soil moist after planting. As there is much genetic diversity among Moringa Oleifera, sprouting can occur within a week or as long as two or three weeks. We have also observed seeds germinating faster in warm weather than cool. Seedlings grow rapidly, reaching 9-15 inches in a couple months. Cutting off the tops of the trees to a height of 3-4½ feet encourages branching and bushing at lower stem positions. Moringa prefers well drained soils and has high drought resistant but is not cold tolerant. Temperatures below 35 degrees Fahrenheit will cause it to die back to ground level or even kill the plant altogether if the roots are allowed to freeze. Moringa trees are prolific and can grow up to 15 -20 feet in a year.
Harvesting Moringa trees – Harvest very young whole plants, young leaves and even older leaflets and flowers for food. Pick the slender young pods (referred to as drumsticks) for eating whole like asparagus, or boil the older pods and then the seeds and the white, fleshy interior can be scooped out and consumed. Repeatedly prune the older flowering branches to stimulate production of new branch shoots.
Picture taken on November 4, 2009:
Here is that same tree, picture taken October 19, 2011. It looks like it had died back due to our
harsh winter last season, which is what happens each winter to our trees also. (Ours die back to
the ground each winter from freezing, then come back up from the roots in the spring, as the ground
doesn't freeze here so the roots survive.) :
The Moringa trees below are my uncle's in Hawaii. They were pruned 2 months prior. He cut them back to about 3 to 4 feet high. As you can see, they are now nice and green. When he cut them they were about 20 feet high. The leaves were sparse and the fruit (pods) were brown and dry. The cut stalks can be planted and eventually they'll root and become trees. The trees in the picture were planted from stalks (cuttings). As you can see, one was planted only about 2 feet away from a tile wall. He reported that the roots can get bigger and be invasive. My uncle tries to cut them back every 6 months. He says you can wait longer, but they'll be bigger and harder to cut. He likes to get the younger leaves on the top of each branch for cooking.
Here's a recipe I got from him: Parboil the leaves really quick (just a few minutes). Cool them with cold water, squeeze the water out with your hands and toss them up with some fresh cut tomatoes and soy sauce for a salad. I must say, this is really Tasty! (and Easy!). I also save the cooking water and drink it as moringa tea - Yum!