Can moringa be the key to a slimmer, healthier you?
Do you know about the hidden health benefits lurking in moringa? Perhaps you do, or perhaps you are thinking ‘Huh? What is that?’.
According to some, it’s a bit of a miracle. Keep reading, let me explain.
So, what is moringa exactly?
Sometimes nicknamed the ‘miracle tree’, moringa is a plant native to parts of India, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. It is also known as drumstick tree and ben oil tree.
Moringa is an important food source in some developing countries since it’s cheap and easy to grow. It is also rich in nutritional value, and stays nutritious even when dried.
In Western countries the dried leaves are generally available for purchase in powder or capsule form, and it is used as a dietary supplement.
The majority of vitamins and nutrients are found in the leaves, and much less in the pods. The pods are, however, bursting with vitamin C, and 100g of fresh pods contain 157% of your daily requirement.
|It’s a ‘miracle tree’ possibly because it contains an almost miraculous number of nutrients. |
vitamin Avitamin B1 (thiamine)B2 (riboflavin)B3 (niacin)folate and ascorbic acid (vitamin C)calciumpotassiumironmagnesiumphosphoruszinc
Benefits of moringa
- Oxidative stress is caused in your body by high levels of free radicals. This is associated with chronic diseases like heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Antioxidants act against free radicals in your body, and moringa is loaded with antioxidants.
Along with vitamin C and beta-carotene, you will also find quercetin and chlorogenic acid in the moringa leaf.
The former fights against elevated blood pressure levels and the latter helps to regulate blood sugar levels after you have eaten.
One study found that taking one and a half teaspoons of moringa leaf powder every day for three months significantly increased blood antioxidant levels in women.
- Not a benefit to your own body as such, but linked to the above: the antioxidative quality of moringa makes it an effective food preservative, able to increase the shelf life of meat.
- Animal studies have confirmed that moringa leaves, pods and seeds have anti-inflammatory properties. Human studies are still lacking though.
- Both animal and human studies have shown that moringa can help lower your cholesterol levels.
- Early research has shown that moringa can be helpful in managing mild to moderate cases of asthma in adults.
Can moringa help you lose weight?
The good news is that moringa is a healthy supplement to take, and that there are ways it can aid you in your weight-loss journey.
This is already better than a supplement that works solely to help you lose weight, only to gain it again after you stop using it.
Both animal and test tube studies showed that moringa can reduce fat formation as well as enhance the breakdown of fat.
The problem here is that human studies are lacking, so it can not be said for sure that it will work on your rolls and bulges. The closest we have are human studies looking at moringa when used combined with other ingredients.
One study considered 41 obese participants on an identical diet and exercise plan. Some of the participants took 900mg of a supplement containing moringa, turmeric and curry.
Those taking the supplement shook off 4.8kg, while the placebo group only lost 1.8kg.
Similar results were seen in a study with 130 people who were given the same supplement. Those who took the supplement lost 5.3kg over 16 weeks, while the placebo group only lost 0.9kg.
As an added bonus the group that took the supplement saw an increase in their HDL (good cholesterol) and a decrease in their LDL (bad cholesterol).
These results are clearly promising, but unfortunately we don’t know whether they occurred because of the moringa, the curry, the turmeric, or a combination of all of them.
|Beware of antinutrients|
|Moringa contains phytates, which is a type of antinutrient. Antinutrients are found in a variety of foods, especially seeds, grains and legumes.|
Antinutrients bind to certain minerals in your food, making it harder for the body to absorb those minerals.
In the case of phytates, they interfere with the absorption of zinc, iron and calcium, but only for the meal you are having at the time. Absorption of minerals in the meals you have later the same day is not affected.
If you are following a balanced diet, phytates are not really a health concern, and they can even be good for you. Phytates have been found to offer
protection against kidney stones and cancer.
Where can you get moringa?
If you like to keep things fresh and natural, you can always grow your own moringa tree. Moringa is fast-growing, adaptable and does well in tropical or subtropical climates.
They like sun and temperatures between 21 and 35°C, however, they can cope with shade. Keep your plant hydrated at all times.
There are quite a few ways you can use raw moringa leaves, just be creative. They can be used raw, or you can lightly boil them if that is your preference. Here are a few ideas:
- Add them to salads.
- Add them to smoothies.
- Use them for sandwiches.
- Stir them into scrambled eggs or omelettes.
- Use as a pizza topping.
If the above seems like a bit too much work, simply buy your moringa powder, tablets and even juice, all of which are widely available from outlets like Clicks, Dischem and Wellness Warehouse.
What are the possible risks associated with moringa?
The leaves, seeds and fruit of the moringa is considered safe for consumption. Be careful and consult your doctor if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or suffer from hypothyroidism.
Interaction with certain types of medication can occur if you are using moringa. Be cautious and talk to your GP if you use any of the following medications:
- Medication containing levothyroxine that is used to treat low thyroid function, such as Eltroxin. Moringa can decrease the effectiveness of these types of medication when taken together.
- Moringa can present a problem when taken with medications that are broken down by the liver. Moringa can decrease how quickly the liver breaks down the medication in your system.
This could result in an increase of both the effects and the side effects of the medication in question. Ask your doctor if the medication you use falls under this category.
- Be careful of taking moringa with diabetes medication meant to lower blood sugar. The moringa could lower your blood sugar levels as well, causing it to go too low.
- The same principle as above goes for medication that lowers blood pressure, as moringa can also contribute to reducing your blood sugar levels.
A product being natural does not automatically make it safe. Follow the instructions that came with your chosen product or chat to a health practitioner if you have any concerns.
With plenty of health benefits as well as the possibility that it can help you lose weight, moringa deserves being called a ‘miracle plant’.
Who knows, adding some of this green gold to your diet could just give you that extra boost you need to reach your goals.