Moringa oleifera is one of thirteen species of moringa originating from Asia and Africa. Moringa oleifera is usually 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 root which are similar to that of horseradish).
The moringa tree is scraggly and ugly but it does have some redeeming properties other than providing some shade. Moringa can be grown in almost any semiarid, tropical and subtropical areas; it grows rapidly, is drought-tolerant and thrives in poor sandy soils. Moringa is a nutritionally rich plant and 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. In Mexico, I only know of the leaves and seeds being eaten. Often the leaves are cooked into scrambled eggs or added into a soup. Sometimes they are added to tortilla dough and made into tortillas. Dried and ground moringa leaves are sometimes added to tostados. The seeds are also sometimes eaten. Moringa is not commonly eaten in Mexico.
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, super immune-boosting powers, thyroid disorders, cancer, diabetes, treat, anemia, arthritis and other joint pain, allergies and asthma, constipation, stomach pains, diarrhea, epilepsy, bacterial, fungal, viral and parasitic infections, stomach and intestinal ulcers, chronic headaches, heart problems, kidney stones, fluid retention 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. Moreover, its leaves are smaller and more delicate than baby spinach, and are prone to wilting after they are picked — a challenge for farmers who can't chill their produce." Removing moringa leaves from the stems is also a labor intensive expense.
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.
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).