The history of Moringa dates back to 150 AD. Although the Moringa vegetable tree is indigenous to Northern India, it has been enjoying new and positive exposure in the Western media of late. Ayurveda, the oral tradition of Indian medicine, shows that Moringa prevents 300 diseases. This is a deciduous tree or shrub that grows fast and is drought-resistant. The typical height of the plant is about 35-40 feet at maturity.
Alternative Action for African Development (AGADA) and Church World Service conducted research on the capacity of Moringa leaf powder to prevent or cure malnutrition in pregnant or breast-feeding women and their children in south western Senegal. Malnutrition was a huge problem in that area of the world. More than 600 malnourished infants suffered annually. During this time doctors, nurses, midwives and village women started the use and advocacy of Moringa in all cooked foods at all meals.
They were trained in techniques of cooking with it and drying the leaves for food. Indeed, the experiment saved numerous lives including the fast recovery of several children who were of poor health. They also gained a lot of weight with time. Even pregnant women recovered from anemia and delivered healthier babies with higher birth weights. For lactating mothers it increased their output of milk.
MORINGA OLEIFERA IS THE BEST KNOWN OF THE THIRTEEN SPECIES OF THE GENUS MORINGACAE
The Romans, Greeks, and Egyptians extracted edible oil from the seeds and used it for perfume and skin lotion. In the nineteenth century the West Indies exported the extracted oil of Moringa to Europe for perfumes and lubricants for machinery. Moringa oil proved beneficial even in the ancient Egyptian culture as a remedy for the protection of their skin from the ravages of desert weather. In Jamaica in 1817, a petition concerning Moringa oil was offered to the Jamaican House of Assembly and the oil was officially acknowledged as excellent for salads and culinary purposes.
In India it was primarily used for curative purposes that included therapy for anemia, anxiety, asthma, blackheads, blood impurities, bronchitis, catarrh, chest congestion, cholera, conjunctivitis, cough, diarrhea, eye & ear infections, fever, glandular swelling, headaches, abnormal blood pressure, hysteria, pain in joints, pimples, psoriasis, respiratory disorders, scurvy, sore throat, sprain, and tuberculosis. In Guatemala however, the usage focused mainly on skin infections and sores. In Philippines it was used to treat anemia, glandular swelling, and lactating. In Malaysia and Puerto Rico it was traditionally used to cure intestinal worms.
One gram of pure powdered Moringa can be a powerhouse in itself. It has 7 times the vitamin C in oranges, 4 times the calcium in milk, 4 times the vitamin A in carrots, 2 times the protein in milk, 3 times the potassium in bananas and 3 times the iron in spinach.
Leaves and pods of Moringa Oleifera are two parts of the plant that are used most commonly and they can be a rich valuable source of nutrition for all age groups. Moringa leaves should be dried indoors and made into a powder by rubbing them over a sieve. The leaf powder then can be kept in opaque, well-sealed plastic containers as exposure to sunlight will destroy the vitamin A content in it.
Almost 50-70% of vitamin A can be safely retained in the leaves if not dried under the direct sunlight as compared to only 20-40% of Vitamin A content if dried directly in the sun. The powder can be used to prepare sauces or a few spoonfuls of the powder can be added onto other sauces for garnishing purposes as well. Not only does it make the food nutritious but adds extra flavor and good aroma to food.
In today’s world lots of people are victims of malnutrition. This chronic problem ought to be alleviated and Moringa can play a major role in addressing the issue.
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