By Temitope Obayendo
Tree of Life, it contains more than 90 nutrients including 40 powerful antioxidants. In fact, practically every part of the plant contains important minerals which are a good source of protein, vitamins, beta-carotene, amino acids, and various phenolics.
Moringa leaves are small, thick, and tear-drop shaped and grows rapidly as the plant matures. The leaves are strong and firm and can be easily picked from the tree’s branches.
Its leaves, when converted to powder contain all eight essential amino acids required for proper protein synthesis. It is rich in flavonoids, including Quercetin, Kaempferol, Beta-Sitosterol, Caffeoylquinic acid, and Zeatin. Stacked full of nutrients, anti-oxidants, and vital proteins, it is quite possibly the most amazing botanical ever studied.
According to a research study carried out at the department of Animal Science, Faculty of Agriculture, Nasarawa State University, titled “Proximate study, mineral and anti-nutrient composition of moringa oleifera leaves harvested from Lafia, Nasarawa State, Nigeria: potential benefits in poultry nutrition and health” by Ogbe, A.O. and John P. Affiku, it revealed the presence of high crude protein and the presence of these essential nutrients and minerals implies Moringa oleifera leaves from Lafia, could be utilized as a source of feed supplement to improve growth performance and health status of poultry.
Plant oil from seeds and leaves of Moringa oleifera are in high demand for their medicinal value. Apart from the medicinal uses, Moringa oleifera has been reported to be a good source of vitamins and amino acids, and also claimed to boost immune systems.
In the study, the levels of anti-nutrients detected in Moringa leaves appeared very
low. The presence of essential nutrients and minerals in Moringa leaves imply they could be utilized to improve growth performance and health status of poultry. Certain bioactive chemical compounds (like saponins, tannins and other phytochemicals), which are known as secondary metabolites of plants are said to have pharmacologically active agents (Soetan and Oyewole, 2009).
Moringa grows in over 82 countries and is known by over 200 different names. Its leaves are considered to have the highest protein ratio of any plant so far studied on earth. It is recognised throughout the world as an important source of nutrition by the National Geographic Society, the National Science Foundation, and the United Nations World Food Program. Hundreds of charitable organisations have based entire nutrition programs and sustainability programs around the plant.
Health benefits of consuming Moringa:
Increases the body’s immune system
Provides nourishment to the brain and body
Decreases anxiety, depression, and sleep related disorders
Promotes cell structure of the body
Calms, moisturizes, and nourishes the skin
Promotes the normal functioning of the liver and kidney
Promotes a healthy circulatory system
Supports normal sugar levels
Aids in stabilizing diabetes
Aids in reducing inflammation and related conditions like arthritis.
As a nutritional supplement, the leaves are harvested and dried at a low temperature, ensuring the nutrients remain intact in the leaf tissue. Once dried, Moringa leaves are pulverized into a fine powder-like consistency, making them easy to pack and more readily available for health-conscious individuals.
They can also be contained in capsules for easy and convenient digestion, and offer the full benefits of a highly nutritious superfood. The best capsules contain only fresh, pure, uncut Moringa, with no teas or other fillers.
Amazingly, Moringa leaves can be regularly harvested and the vigorous plant quickly grows new leaves. Second only to bamboo
Moringa leaves, from the Moringa tree, are a welcome addition to any diet, whether in its fresh state, or dried and ground into powder. For those who are fortunate enough to live in any area where the ground does not freeze in the winter, a Moringa tree can provide excellent nourishment year-round. Those who live in areas where the ground freezes, can still add Moringa leaves, and the buds, blossoms, and pods to their diet, but growing it as an annual.
We mostly eat the Moringa leaves, and here is how we do it. Add the Moringa leaves right at the end, or put them on top of the pizza sauce, and then put the cheese on top, and “mist” with a little olive oil and garlic salt – talk about delicious!
For fresh leaves, it is best to grow them, yourself. There are a few places that sell the dried leaves, which reconstitute beautifully. If you can grow a Moringa tree, or several as a hedge, you can strip the leaves off the Moringa branches, and add them to your regular food.
If you have never eaten Moringa leaves before, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the “meaty” taste of the leaves, how well they combine with other foods and how good you feel after you eat them.
Another way that we really enjoy eating Moringa, is to add it to omelettes, or omelets – however you spell it, the dish is the same. The taste is just incredible. Moringa has a “pecany-spinach” taste – sort of like “nutty” greens. When the leaves are fresh, they have a slight “bite” to them; one reason that it is also called the “Horseradish Tree”. The root is also used, instead of horseradish, but we do not suggest doing that – you’ll see why in the tips and warnings section. I cannot stress that part enough – leave the root – alone! When the leaves are cooked, or salad dressing is added to them, they lose their “bite”.
How to incorporate moringa into your meal
Moringa leaves, in fresh or powdered form, can be added to salads, cooked like spinach or other steamed vegetables, or included in soups, curries, and gravies. The leaf powder retains a deep green consistency when fresh – a good sign also that your leaf powder is of a high quality.
The best time to add the Moringa, whether you use leaves, buds, or blossoms, is right near the end of the cooking time, just like you do with Moringa Chili. If you are using chopped pods, add it to your beaten eggs, right when they go into the hot skillet. The pods just require a little more cooking time than the leaves, buds, and blossoms.
For the meatloaf lovers, here is another way to incorporate Moringa into your daily diet. Moringa combines well with any type of meatloaf you can imagine – even “meatless” meatloaf.
Any form of Moringa can be added, to a regular meatloaf. You can successfully use the chopped pods, the buds, the flower blossoms, the leaves, or the powder – they will all absorb the flavors of your meatloaf’s ingredients, and add some more valuable nutrition, in the process.
For meatloaf, just add any form of Moringa you wish, about ½ cup to 1 cup, to the ingredients that you normally use. Wait a minute! If you are using Moringa leaf powder, you’d better cut that back to about 3 full tablespoons. That will be more than sufficient, to add taste and nutrients.
Moringa cooks quickly. If you sauté it, just cook it until it turns bright green, and wilts a bit. Do not overcook Moringa, in any form! As with most greens, it will become bitter, and lose most of its valuable nutrien
Start out with small amounts, as Moringa is a powerful energy booster.
For the best taste, and nutrition, add Moringa leaves, buds, and blossoms, right near the end of cooking time for most dishes.
Moringa can be added to leafy salads, dips, soups, stews, pap, tea, sauce, drinks and dumplings, macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese sandwiches, tuna salad, chicken salad, ham salad, potatoes au gratin, grain dishes – such as rice, and wheat.
Moringa Tree and leaves
Moringa leaf powder
Journal of Microbiology,
Biotechnology and Ogbe et al. 2011/12 : 1 (3) 296-308