September 4, 2021 4:30:05 pm
With immunity being the keyword in the post-pandemic world, more people are looking for plant-based diet and within that, plant varieties that abound in multiple macronutrients, vitamins and minerals in one source. As such, many nutrient-rich options have become quite popular in the recent times. However, the humble moringa has somehow missed the mark in establishing a firm bearing as a wholesome choice in the plant kingdom, said Dr Abhishek Kumar, an Ayurvedic expert and senior consultant with the Art of Living’s Sri Sri Tattva.
Derived from the Tamil word ‘murungai’, meaning twisted pod, the moringa tree is native to South Asia and thrives best in a sub-tropical climate. Considered as one of the most ecologically viable species, this flowering plant is referred to as the ‘Miracle Tree’.
“Every part of this plant is not only edible but is also used for cultural practices. Its tender velvety leaves are dry roasted, ground and sold in the form of powders, capsules, and tablets. The bark of the tree that is rich in fiber can be used to make mats and is also suitable for pulp and paper productions. With delicacies like drumstick sambhar, curries, pickles and a host of other dishes, these thick-skinned pods have been a popular favorite in the South Indian kitchen for years. Packed with the goodness of vitamins, minerals, calcium, potassium and iron, this nutrient dense medicinal plant helps combat bacterial diseases, makes bones healthier, protects liver functions, treats edema to name a few benefits,” Dr Kumar told indianexpress.com.
He further shared that moringa pacifies the Kapha (earth element) and Vata (air element) in the body, but should always be used in moderation.
So let’s look at a few more benefits of this botanical wonder, as shared by Dr Kumar
1. Treats malnutrition in infants and children
In addition to all the nutrients that babies receive from breast milk, formula or both, making appropriate food choices in the early years can be helpful for their growth and development. In comparison to other fruits and vegetables, moringa contains high amounts of vitamins and minerals. “It has 17 times more calcium than milk, 10 times more vitamin A than carrots, 7 times more vitamin C than oranges, 25 times more iron than spinach, 9 times more protein than yoghurt which contributes to organ development, strengthens bones and teeth, improves red blood cell production, helps metabolism and nerve function,” he said.
Moringa leaves can be administered only after the baby’s first year. Start with leaves that are very tender since they are easy to digest. If you can’t find tender leaves, be sure to pressure cook or steam the leaves till they are cooked well. Strain the soup before giving it as the pungent taste may put them off instantly. Increase the quantities very gradually or it could be an overload on the baby’s gentle digestive system. For babies over six months, moringa powder can be added to breast milk or formula too. In fact, moringa powder is much more nutritious than fresh leaves since it has a denser concentration of nutrients.
How is it an antidote to malnutrition?
“Inadequate amount of nutrients in the body can lead to decreased mobility and stamina, reduction in muscle mass, frequent illness, gastrointestinal disturbances, and poor mental health, among other constitutional problems. With 46 antioxidants and 92 vitamins to its credit, moringa can treat malnutrition in a cost-effective manner. It acts as an iron supplement to help combat anemia, the high protein content is beneficial in maintaining muscle mass, our body easily absorbs calcium present in the leaves that can enhance bone strength, the vitamin B present acts as a natural energy booster and strengthens the immune system which provides required nutritional intake to regain stability in health,” he explained.
2. For healthy hair and acne-prone skin
The antioxidants present in moringa leaves reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Due to their detoxifying nature and therapeutic properties, it improves the skin tone and adds a glow. This makes moringa leaves a popular ingredient in many cosmetic products. Also known as Ben oil, it can be found in creams and lotions. You can make a fine paste of the moringa leaves and apply it to the scalp and hair. It reduces flaking, strengthens hair follicles, adds shine and bounce to dull lifeless hair.
3. Enhances memory and boosts brain health
Consumption of moringa can enhance your memory by altering enzyme activity in the hippocampus- a complex brain structure in the temporal lobe responsible for learning and memory. Moringa contains Tryptophan, a protein that helps to maintain the serotonin levels in the body thereby acting as a calming agent and uplifts mood. It also has the ability to reduce oxidative stress that lead to neurodegenerative conditions.
4. Helps in weight loss
Moringa increases fat burning capacity in the body. It helps a person lose weight without depleting energy reserves. This keeps the person feeling buoyant and nourished. It reduces craving for food and boosts metabolism. It also lowers cholesterol. However, the alkaloids present in the plant could lower blood pressure and slow the heart rate – so it should not be over consumed.
5. An added advantage for athletes
Athletes and fitness enthusiasts around the globe provide their body with proper nutrition that would prevent fatigue and reduce the risk of injury. Drumstick soup is a good energy drink. Moreover, moringa also helps to fight damage from oxidative stress. It is an amazing anti-oxidant supplement that contains lots of free radical fighting compounds like quercetin, chlorogenic acid, beta carotene and Vitamin C that reduce metabolic waste, heals damaged cells, treats muscles exhaustion and reduces inflammation. It can be used as a supplement especially for people with fractures and nutritional deficiencies. It also helps in combating flu, cold and sore throat.
Here are a few additional tips:
• The best way to consume moringa leaves is in its raw form as it retains all the nutrients. Salads or smoothies can be your go-to options. However, consuming large quantities of bark or pulp may cause uterine contractions.
• Add latex of the drumstick tree with sesame oil. This combination can be used to treat ear diseases.
• For headaches, mix some drumstick tree latex in cow milk and apply on temples.
• Apply the oil extracted from drumstick seeds and mix it with groundnut oil to treat rheumatic pain and swelling.
• It’s unsafe to use the root, bark, or flowers of moringa if you are pregnant or a nursing mother. Chemicals present in these parts might make the uterus contract.
• Moringa leaves can get contaminated easily with pesticides. Wash the leaves several times to get rid of any soil or dirt. Be sure to get it from a reliable organic source.
📣 The above article is for information purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional for any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.
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