Moringa oleifera, known popularly as drumstick tree, is an herbaceous plant grown for its nutritious greens, flowers, and mineral-rich pods. It is a well-recognized member in the Moringaceae family of trees and thought to be originated in the sub-Himalayan ranges of Indian subcontinent. The plant possesses horseradish-like root and, hence, known to the Western world as horseradish tree. The seed pods are popular as murnga in Tamil, and malunggay in Philippines.
Moringa is a drought tolerant, medium-sized, evergreen tree that prefers warm, frost-free climates to flourish. Its tender leaves and twigs can be harvested from a well-established, 1.5 to 2 meters height plant. Taller plants bear cream-white color small size flowers in clusters during the entire season, which subsequently develop to long slender dark-green color, three-sided, edible seedpods with tapering ends. Each pod measures about 6-18 inches long, with constrictions at the seed nodes giving them a typical drumstick appearance. Inside, each pod features fleshy pulp and round pea-sized seeds encased in a wing-shaped coat (hull).
Health Benefits of Moringa
Moringa plant possesses unique nutritional qualities that hold promise to millions of impoverished communities around the globe that lack in many nutritional supplements for instance protein, minerals, and vitamins.
Leaves are rich in protein that can be rarely found in any other herbs and green leafy vegetables. 100 g of fresh raw leaves provide 9.8 g of protein or about 17.5% of daily-required levels. Dry, powdered leaves indeed are a much-concentrated source of many quality amino acids.
Fresh pods and seeds are a good supply of oleic acid, a health-benefiting monounsaturated fat. Moringa as high-quality oilseed crop can be grown alternatively to improve nutrition levels of populations in a great many drought-prone areas of Africa and Asia.
Fresh leaves and growing tips of Moringa are the richest source of vitamin A. 100 g of fresh leaves 7564 IU or 252% of daily-required levels. Vitamin A is one of the fat-soluble anti-oxidant offering several benefits, including mucus membrane repair, maintenance of skin integrity, vision, and immunity.
Fresh Moringa pods and leaves are fantastic sources of vitamin-C. 100 g of pods contain 145 µg or 235% of daily-required amounts of vitamin C. 100 g of greens provide 51.7 µg or 86% of daily-recommended intake values of this vitamin. Scientific studies have demostrated that consumption of fruits/vegetables full of vitamin C helps the body develop immunity against infectious agents, and scavenge harmful oxygen-free radicals from the body.
The greens in addition to pods also contain good quantities of many vital B-complex vitamins for example folates, vitamin-B6 (pyridoxine), thiamin (vitamin B-1), riboflavin, pantothenic acid, and niacin. Much of these vitamin functions as co-enzymes in carbohydrate, protein, and fat metabolism.
Furthermore, its leaves are one of the fine sources of minerals like calcium, iron, copper, manganese, zinc, selenium, and magnesium. Iron alleviates anemia. Calcium is necessary for bone strengthening. Zinc plays a crucial role in hair-growth, spermatogenesis, and skin health.
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