We all know superfoods, like fruits, vegetables, and seeds are beneficial for our daily diet. Popular food staples like avocado, kale, and turmeric are packed with nutrients that can boost our health and wellbeing. Now, there's a new health food that's rich in nutrients, antioxidants, and other compounds — moringa, which is touted for fighting disease and aiding weight loss.
This superfood is known for its medicinal and healing properties when it comes to our health. The plant's various parts, including the leaves, flowers, seeds, fruit and bark, each provide nutritional value that can help treat illnesses from cancer to heart conditions to protecting skin cells from aging. This makes moringa a wonderful addition to a dietary routine.
Below are six benefits of having moringa every day to boost your overall health.
Moringa has been shown to balance blood sugar levels via chlorogenic acid, which allows cells to take up or release sugar as needed. A study published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition found diabetics who had moringa, curry, and bitterground as part of a high-carb meal saw improvements in blood sugar control and insulin levels. Their plasma insulin responses were noticeably lower when the three plants were included in the meal compared to when they weren't.
“This is thought to be caused by isothiocyanates, which are derived from glucosinolates (sulfur containing compounds) found in green, leafy vegetables” Dr. Konda Reddy, a physician at Weight Loss Physicians in Orlando, Fla., told Medical Daily.
Similarly, a study in the Journal of Food Science found moringa leaf powder had a positive effect on postmenopausal women. Those who took seven grams every day for three months reduced their fasting blood sugar levels by 13.5 percent. The researchers concluded its antioxidant properties have therapeutic potential for complications linked to postmenopause.
Moringa helps reduce cholesterol levels due to beta-sitosterol, a power packed nutrient that blocks LDL "bad" cholesterol build-up and acts as an anti-inflammatory agent for the body. Beta-sitosterol possesses a similar structure to cholesterol, which means it competes with cholesterol in the intestines. This reduces the absorption of cholesterol, preventing damage of the blood vessels and keeping the arteries and veins free of plaque. High cholesterol in the blood is linked to an increased risk of heart disease.
In a study, published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, researchers compared moringa to a widely used class of cholesterol and statins, which lower lipids. Moringa was found to be comparable to statins in decreasing serum, liver, and kidney cholesterol levels by 14 percent, 6 percent, and 11 percent in rats, respectively. The effect on the serum cholesterol was statistically significant.
Moringa contains a mix of essential amino acids, carotenoid phytonutrients — found in carrots and tomatoes — antioxidants, and natural antibacterial compounds that mimic the effects of anti-inflammatory drugs. The plant is also a source of omega-3 fatty acids, which also acts as an anti-inflammatory, and can even protect us from allergic reactions. For example, a study published in the journal Allergy found people who have a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids were less likely to suffer from fewer allergy symptoms.
The water-soluble extracts of moringa lead have been touted for helping treat various types of cancer including lung, breast, and skin cancers. In a study, published in the journal Oncology Letters, researchers tested the effects of several doses of water-soluble extract from moringa leaves (0, 50, 100, 200, 300 or 400μ/ml) on human liver and lung cancer cells for two days. The researchers found about 97 percent of the cells exhibited cell death at the highest dose (400μ/ml).
Following, the researchers looked at the plant's effects on inhibiting the growth of cancer cells. Similarly to the first study, they treated liver cancer cells for two days at various doses. The findings revealed cancer cells treated with moringa were inhibited in their growth, and this inhibition was also dose dependent — there was up to 80 percent inhibition by the highest dose provided (200μ/ul).
After other experiments, the researchers concluded the ratio of cell death was five times higher in cells treated with moringa than control cells at the highest concentration (300μ/ml).
Improves Digestive Health
Moringa's anti-inflammatory properties and high fiber content has made it an ideal plant to treat digestive issues such as stomach ulcers, liver disease, kidney damage, among many other disorders. Moringa powder contains 31 percent fiber, helping food move smoothly through the digestive system to be broken down and used in the body. Fiber can also act as a weight loss aid, which makes us feel fuller for longer while supporting a healthy metabolism.
"Moringa, historically, has been used for digestive health. Many claim it helps 'mop up' anything lingering in your digestive system” said Reddy.
However, Reddy warns, there is no official data to back up these claims.
Slows Down Effects Of Aging
Moringa shows promise in preserving our health and beauty. The plant contains anti-aging properties that are beneficial in promoting the revitalization for younger and healthier skin. A 2014 study published in Advances in Dermatology and Allergology found using an active cream containing three percent of concentrated extract of moringa leaves for a period of three months led to improvements on skin volume, skin roughness, skin scaliness, skin smoothness, and skin wrinkles among others. The researchers concluded moringa cream enhances skin revitalization effect, supporting anti-aging skin effects.
According to Reddy: "High concentration of antioxidants, nutrients, and the alleged anti-inflammatory properties make the plant an attractive candidate for anti-aging products."
It’s best to consult a doctor to see if moringa is safe for you before adding it to your daily diet.