Moringa oleifera is one of thirteen species of moringa, all of which originate from Asia and Africa. Moringa oleifera is called moringa in Spanish and in English, but sometimes in English it's called "drumstick tree" (from the appearance of the long slender seed pods) or "horseradish tree" (from the taste and appearance of the moringa root).
Moringa can be grown in almost any semiarid, tropical and subtropical areas; it grows rapidly, is drought-tolerant and thrives in poor sandy soils. The moringa tree is scraggly and rather unsightly but it does have some redeeming properties other than providing some shade. Moringa is a nutritionally rich plant, a superfood. It easily grows in areas where many of the world's population suffer from malnutrition. To the right or just above is a photo of a moringa tree growing in front of a tire repair shop.
The entire Moringa tree is said to be edible. However in Mexico, it is rarely eaten and I only know of the leaves, flowers and seeds being eaten. The leaves are cooked into scrambled eggs or added into a soup. Sometimes they are added to tortilla dough and made into tortillas or tostados. The leaves have a cabbage like flavor and cook rapidly, like spinach. Raw moringa flowers can be added to salads or can be lightly cooked, the raw flowers remind me raw peas and have a light after kick to them. The dried seeds are also sometimes eaten but mostly for the supposed medical benefits. Click here for a larger image of a moringa leaves and here for a larger image of moringa flowers.
Moringa is not commonly eaten in Mexico but it should be. Moringa leaves are a superfood as are moringa pods to a lesser extent, as you can see from the nutritional value list below.
From what I have read, Moringa is a panacea, it can cure or treat almost everything; reduce weight gain, lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, prevent inflammation, reduce fatigue and improve energy levels, thyroid disorders, cancer, diabetes, treat, anemia, arthritis ... and low sex drive. Perhaps. There has not been any high quality research on humans to validate any such claims.
Moringa has proven medical benefits for mice. "In a three-month study, mice were fed a very high fat diet supplemented with 5 percent moringa concentrate. Results showed the moringa-fed mice had a reduction in weight gain, hepatic obesity, gluconeogenesis, insulin, cholesterol and inflammatory markers. An increase in insulin-signaling sensitivity and lipolysis (the breakdown of fats) also occurred. These results provide evidence that moringa intake may reduce weight in obese individuals and be a useful tool in managing risk factors for metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions that increase the likelihood of developing heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes."
"Despite more research is necessary to validate the anti-inflammatory effects of moringa on humans, the outlook is promising. Waterman and Raskin, co-inventors on the patented processing of moringa to harness isothiocyanates, are working closely with Estée Lauder to develop anti-inflammatory skincare products. The expectation is that profits gained from such products will help fund future research on moringa's health and agricultural uses in the developing world."
So why is moringa not being grown on an industrial scale? "The broad genetic variation within Moringa oleifera has made it hard to cultivate efficiently on big farms, where crop uniformity is critical for ease of care and harvest." Moringa leaves are prone to wilting, like spinach, and need to be refrigerated. Moringa leaves need to be removed from the small stems is labor intensive; from personal experience I can tell you that the small stems like to lodge themselves in between your teeth.
I always learn a lot when researching and writing web pages, this page more than most. After learning how nutritional moringa is and how easy it is to grow, I planted two moringa trees in my backyard. Now I eat three or four handfuls of fresh organic moringa leaves a week. Life is great!
The images of 'Moringa oleifera leaf, raw, Nutritional value...' and 'M. oleifera pods, raw, Nutritional value...' originates from Moringa oleifera, Wikipedia.org. Retrieved 17 August 2018. All other photos were taken by Marc Wilkinson. I, the copyright holder, hereby publish these photos under the following license: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0).