Moringa oleifera is one of those best kept secrets in the western health food world. Amazing but true, this fast growing, drought resistant, tropical tree has edible leaves that are one of the world’s most nutrient dense food. The word about Moringa is starting to get out though and in the last year lengthy articles on Moringa have appeared on the websites such as Dr. Axe, NPR, MindBodyGreen, and Dr. Mercola.
Although relatively new to the US, Moringa has been used for centuries in areas of Asia and Africa. In fact India’s ancient tradition of ayurvedic medicine sites 300 diseases that are treated with the leaves of the Moringa tree. Because of the incredible nutritional profile of the leaves coupled with their medicinal benefits, Moringa is used by non-profits around the world to help fight sickness, disease and and micro-nutrient malnutrition. These tiny leaves are making a BIG difference.
Other edible parts of the tree include the immature and green seed pods and the mature seeds themselves. The seed pods have a similar nutritional profile to the leaves although they aren’t as nutrient dense. Additionally, Moringa Oil which is produced from pressing Moringa seeds, contains powerful anti-oxidants and a unique blend of beneficial fatty-acids that make it a coveted ingredient in cosmetic products.
So what exactly are the benefits of Moringa? To date, researchers and scientists have only investigated a fraction of the claimed health benefits of Moringa. Below are 7 benefits of taking Moringa. (PS. There’s a coupon code below for my readers only)
Incredible Nutritional Profile
Moringa leaves are incredibly nutrient dense: they contain over 90 nutrients including 47 antioxidants and 36 anti-inflammatories. Mark Olsen Ph.D. who has been studying Moringa since 1995 and been funded by the National Science Foundation and National Geographic Society says about Moringa “Nothing else in the plant Kingdom really compares”. The leafy greens are made up of almost 10% protein and contain 18 amino acids including all 9 essential amino acids! On a gram for gram basis, fresh Moringa leaves also contain*:
- 4x more calcium than milk
- 3x more vitamin C than oranges
- 2x more iron than spinach
- 5x more protein than yogurt
- The same potassium of bananas
- The same vitamin A of carrots
Moringa also contains zeatin, quercetin, beta-sitosterol, caffeoylquinic acid, kaempferol, silymarin, EGCg, elegiac acid and essential minerals such as zinc.
*The above comparison was made from data taken exclusively from the USDA nutrient Database . Other food nutrient databases report significantly higher levels of vitamins and minerals in Moringa! [2,3] In any case, Moringa is a nutritional powerhouse!
Abundant in Antioxidants
Antioxidants are substances that stop or delay cell damage and are often referred to as anti-aging compounds. Moringa oleifera leaves have been shown to have extremely high antioxidant activity! [4,5]
Dr. Axe recently stated:
Moringa leaves are high in several anti-aging compounds that lower the effects of oxidative stress and inflammation, including polyphenols, vitamin C, beta-carotene, quercetin, and chlorogenic acid. These are associated with a reduced risk for chronic diseases, such as stomach, lung or colon cancer; diabetes; hypertension; and age-related eye disorders. 
Moringa has been shown to reduce cholesterol which can decrease the risk of heart disease. [7,8,9,10]
A 2010 study on Type II diabetes patients also reported that patients consuming 8 grams of dried Moringa leaf powder daily for 40 days experienced a significant decrease (14%) in total blood cholesterol levels when compared to the control group. Even better was the fact that LDL levels (the bad cholesterol) dropped 29%, triglycerides dropped 14% and HDL (the good cholesterol) actually increased 9% 
In 2012, the International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications published the results of a study where they gave postmenopausal woman 1.5 Tbsp of Moringa powder each day. They showed there was a significant decrease in total cholesterol and tryglycerides. 
It’s important to note that these very favorable results came from daily consumption of 8 grams in the first study and 1.5 Tbsp (~9 grams) of Moringa powder. This may be a challenge for some to incorporate into their diet but this smoothie recipe really works well. Sometimes I will add my Moringa to water to take it quickly, but in a smoothie is the best way I’ve found to take it.
Inflammation is understood to lead to many chronic diseases, including cancer and even heart disease. Moringa leaves, seedpods, and seeds have all been shown to possess anti-inflammatory properties! [11, 12, 13] To further understand the effectiveness of Moringa as an anti-inflammatory, clinic tests on humans need to be conducted. At this point results are very positive from animal testing.
Balances Blood Sugar Levels
In 2012, it was reported that 9.3% of the American population had diabetes and 86 million americans age 20 and older had pre diabetes High blood sugar levels, as we all know, lead to a multitude of health issues.
An individual is diagnosed as a diabetic when their blood glucose level is regularly above 126 mg/dL after an overnight fast and above 200 mg/dL when measured exactly 2 hours after a meal.
In 2010 a study of 46 Type 2 Diabetes patients was conducted over 40 days. The patients were 30-60 years of age and not on any medication for diabetes. After receiving a daily dose of 8 grams of dried Moringa powder for 40 days their fasting blood glucose levels had decreased by 28%. Similarly their blood glucose levels were reduced by 26% when measured 2 hours after a meal. 
Very similar results have been shown in Type 2 Diabetes patients who were on both Sulfonylurea medication and a standardized calorie restricted diet. Measured levels taken 2 hours after a meal dropped by 9% after 30 days, 17% after 60 days and 29% after 90 days. 
In another study, Moringa powder also reduced the rise in blood sugar levels after eating by 21%  . At this point, more clinical trials with larger populations are required; but the results look very promising.
Again, Dr. Axe in his recent article on Moringa stated:
Moringa contains a type of acid called chlorogenic acid, which has been shown to help control blood sugar levels and allow cells to take up or release glucose (sugar) as needed. This gives moringa natural antidiabetic and hormone-balancing properties. Aside from chlorogenic acid, compounds called isothiocyanates that are present in moringa have also been tied to natural protection against diabetes. 
Increases Milk Supply
While breastfeeding of babies is certainly on the rise in the US, still one of the largest reasons people give up is a concern over milk supply. In fact, one national study on feeding practices found that about 50% of mothers cited insufficient milk supply as their reason for stopping breastfeeding . I first heard about Moringa because of the milk supporting benefits when using it as a supplement. I haven’t had an issue with my milk supply while breastfeeding Ottava, but I think every nursing mom wonders or worries about their milk supply. I take the Moringa powder 3-4x/week and can definitely tell when I have taken it. It also allows me to pump more milk if I choose to pump after I nurse or early in the morning.
In the Philippines Moringa capsules are prescribed by doctors for various treatments and clinical tests have been conducted to test the effectiveness of Moringa on increasing milk supply. Tests show a significant increase in milk production starting on day 4 of taking Moringa capsules. Increases of over 100% have been documented by day 7. Baby weight during the first 4 months after birth has also shown to be significantly increased when Moringa capsules are used by the mother. All studies were free from any unwanted side effects. 
Note that just taking 1-2 grams of Moringa daily (easily done by taking 3-4 Moringa capsules) provides this boost in milk production.
Here is an article all about Moringa and how it can be used to increase milk supply. I believe this is a must for any nursing momma. And, you can always put it in some lactation cookies too.
Skin, Hair and Scalp Moisturizer and Cleanser
Like Moringa leaves, Moringa oil has many benefit.! Moringa oil is packed full of antioxidants as well as having high levels of oleic and behenic fatty acids. Behenic acid, a saturated fatty acid is used in moisturizers, hair conditioners and lubricating oils. Behenic acid helps to keep skin and hair both soft and smooth. It also makes Moringa oil a coveted base for skin and hair care products as well as perfumes. Moringa oil is a pale yellow color, with a very mild nutty flavor. It is odorless, non-sticking, non-drying, and a liquid at room temperature. It also resists rancidity lasting for several years.
Wonder why the oil is so expensive? It takes about 500 Moringa seeds to produce 1 oz of Moringa oil.
- Moisturizer: With the oil’s high oleic acid content, it makes for an excellent, non-sticky, skin moisturizer. It can also be used on skin conditions such as psoriasis or eczema and chapped lips.
- Skin and Hair Care: Again because of the very high behenic acid concentration, the oil exhibits conditioning properties that help to keep skin and hair soft and smooth. The oil is very thin and spreads further than would be expected. Simply rub into skin or wash into wet hair.
- Cleanser: Oil is reported to help eliminate acne and blackheads. It may also help remove spots from acne when used on a long-term basis.
- Anti-aging oil: Due to the high anti-oxidant and behenic oil concentrations, the oil helps improve and rejuvenate the appearance of aging skin.
- Carrier oil for homemade massage oils: With the properties described above, the oil makes for a great carrier oil in homemade massage oils.
- Base for homemade perfume: Since the oil resists rancidity and has such a high oleic acid level, it makes an ideal choice for a perfume base. It also has the ability to absorb and retain scents and fragrances!
- Base for homemade soaps: The oil has been reported to make a good base for homemade soaps.
The benefits of Moringa are overwhelming; but maybe you’re wondering, “How do I incorporate Moringa into my diet”?
How to Consume Moringa
Moringa is typically digested in one of two forms fresh leaves or dried leaf powder.
Fresh Moringa leaves have a moisture content of 75 – 80%, while dried leaves have a moisture content of less than 10%. That means that 1 lb of Moringa powder starts out as roughly 3.5 – 4.5 lbs of fresh leaves.
When eating Moringa powder, start by eating 1/2 tsp a day. That isn’t much powder, but Moringa is a very powerful food; and your body needs time to adjust to it. If initially taken in large quantities, it can have a detoxify effect on the body. In the second week of use, increase to 1 tsp per day and continue to slowly increase your consumption until you reach 1-2 Tbsp (3 – 6 tsp) per day. It may take you 3 – 4 weeks in total to ramp up your consumption. You will start feeling the positive effects within a couple of weeks, even before you have finished ramping up your consumption. If you are a nursing mother you want to increase your dose even slower because you don’t want to detoxify your body while you’re breastfeeding.
While it’s ok to use Moringa powder or leaves in food that you are cooking, it is best to refrain from heating it for more than a few minutes. Moringa is most nutritious when consumed raw. If a particular dish requires heating, when possible, add the leaves/powder during the last few minutes of cooking to limit heat exposure and maximize Moringa benefits. It’s also important to know that fresh Moringa leaves have a potent aftertaste if eaten by themselves. Seconds after first chewing them, many would argue that a large handful of leaves could easily be consumed, but when Moringa’s powerful aftertaste or burning sensation soon emerges, any protests quickly wane. I have watched several people do this, and it can be quite comical. Do not be deterred by this bold new taste, Moringa can and does combine in a delightful way when paired with quite a variety of flavors!
Try eating Moringa the following ways and note the equivalent ratios between fresh Moringa and dry powder:
- Smoothies: If you love smoothies as much as we do, adding Moringa powder to your diet will be easy. Simply add the desired amount of Moringa to your smoothie each day and enjoy. Don’t be surprised if the color of your smoothie changes more than you expected!
- Sprinkle on food: Start to experiment when preparing different dishes. You will find you can easily sprinkle 1 tsp of powder on a plate of food, a cup of soup, or on a sandwich. Do this a few times throughout the day, and you’re set.
- Moringa tea – this is a great use for whole dried leaves: Drink Moringa tea and get a morning boost without the caffeine Seriously!
- Moringa, lemon, honey, mint leaves, ginger, and ice blend: For a fresh, potent, and incredibly nutritious drink, mix as many of the above ingredients as you have in a blender and add plenty of water. How much powder you can handle vs. how much honey you need to sweeten the drink will really be a matter of personal preference. Experiment with the ratios, but know these ingredients all play nice together. To add some more flavor, swap out the water for coconut milk. Ah now, that is a wonderfully refreshing drink. It’s even better when you use fresh Moringa leaves instead of Moringa powder.
Moringa Capsules: Moringa capsules are great to take with you when you are traveling or for those of you that have a hard time incorporating Moringa powder into your diet.
For recipes, the linked blog has a growing list of Moringa recipes with more recipes being added regularly. The above picture is of Moringa Pistachio Lemon Cheese Balls, and they are delicious!
Where to Purchase Moringa Products
If you have access to fresh leaves at a farmers market, you are very fortunate! Fresh is the best way to consume Moringa. Fresh Moringa leaves are also available seasonally shipped from California.
Thankfully, even if you don’t have access to fresh leaves, a powder form of the leaf is available from many suppliers year round. When the fresh leaves are dried and turned into a powder (as long as they are processed quickly and at a low temperature), they maintain nearly all the nutrients.
The Moringa powder sold from A Healthy Leaf is harvested by hand at a USDA certified organic farm in Ecuador. It is washed, rinsed then placed into a dryer. The whole leaves are dried at a maximum temperature of 114 °F. While more costly, using this temperature controlled drying facility minimizes the time it takes for the leaves to dry. This is important for both the purity and nutrient retention of the product. Open sun drying of the leaves, for example, causes the most nutrient loss while shade drying is slow and puts the product at high risk of contamination.
It’s important to note as Moringa continues to gain in popularity in the US, it seems that many low quality products are flooding the market. For a simple test, Moringa powder should have a deep, vibrant green appearance and a strong, fresh, grassy aroma. The powder should also be laboratory tested and free from heavy metal and microbial contamination that may be prevalent in exporting countries. Avoid products that have clear packaging as light breaks down the powder.
If you leave Moringa powder outside exposed to the sun and air you will see a grayish brownish layer form on the exposed surface. Some powders we see on the market look brown right out of the package: avoid such products. It’s important to keep the powder in a dry and dark environment and keep it sealed to prevent it from degrading from the light and oxidizing.
I also have a coupon code for 50% off your first month of a subscription for tea, capsules, and/or powder.
The code is: mb-sub50%
Products available on a Healthy Leaf:
- Fresh Moringa Leaves(Seasonal)
- Moringa Powder
- Moringa Capsules
- Moringa Tea
- Moringa Oil
- Moringa Seeds
- Moringa Trees(Seasonal)
- Moringa Root Stock(Seasonal)
- U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. USDA national nutrient database for standard reference, release 28.Web. 22 Feb. 2016.
- Stadlmayr, B., U.R. Charondiere, V.N. Enujiugha, et al. West African food composition table. Rome: The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations; 2012.
- Goplan, C., B.V.R. Sastri, S.C. Balasubramanian, et al. Nutritive value of Indian foods. Hyperabad, India: National Institute of Nutrition; 1999.
- Sreelatha, S., and P. R. Padma. “Antioxidant activity and total phenolic content of Moringa oleifera leaves in two stages of maturity.” Plant foods for human nutrition64.4 (2009): 303-311.
- Razis, Ahmad Faizal Abdull, Muhammad Din Ibrahim, and Saie Brindha Kntayya. “Health benefits of Moringa oleifera.” Asian Pac J Cancer Prev15.20 (2014): 8571-8576.
- “This ‘Miracle Plant’ Balances Hormones & Improves Health in Many Ways.” Dr Axe. 2016. Web. 22 Feb. 2016.
- Kushwaha, Shalini, Paramjit Chawla, and Anita Kochhar. “Effect of supplementation of drumstick (Moringa oleifera) and amaranth (Amaranthus tricolor) leaves powder on antioxidant profile and oxidative status among postmenopausal women.” Journal of food science and technology51.11 (2014): 3464-3469.
- Ghasi, S., E. Nwobodo, and J. O. Ofili. “Hypocholesterolemic effects of crude extract of leaf of Moringa oleifera Lam in high-fat diet fed Wistar rats.” Journal of Ethnopharmacology69.1 (2000): 21-25.
- Mehta, Komal, et al. “Effect of fruits of Moringa oleifera on the lipid profile of normal and hypercholesterolaemic rabbits.” Journal of ethnopharmacology86.2 (2003): 191-195.
- Mbikay, Majambu. “Therapeutic potential of Moringa oleifera leaves in chronic hyperglycemia and dyslipidemia: a review” Frontiers in pharmacology3 (2012).
- Sulaiman, Mohd Roslan, et al. “Evaluation of Moringa oleifera aqueous extract for antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory activities in animal models.” Pharmaceutical biology46.12 (2008): 838-845.
- Mahajan, Shailaja G., and Anita A. Mehta. “Immunosuppressive activity of ethanolic extract of seeds of Moringa oleifera Lam. in experimental immune inflammation.” Journal of ethnopharmacology130.1 (2010): 183-186.
- Cheenpracha, Sarot, et al. “Potential anti-inflammatory phenolic glycosides from the medicinal plant Moringa oleifera fruits.” Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry18.17 (2010): 6598-6602.
- William, Felicia, S. Lakshminarayanan, and Hariprasad Chegu. “Effect of some Indian vegetables on the glucose and insulin response in diabetic subjects.” International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition44.3 (1993): 191-195.
- US Department of Health and Human Services. “The Surgeon General’s call to action to support breastfeeding.” (2011).
- Raguindin, P. F., Leonila F. Dans, and Jacelie F. King. “Moringa oleifera as a Galactagogue.” Breastfeeding Medicine9.6 (2014): 323-324.
- Kumari D. J. (2010). Hypoglycemic effect of Moringa oleiferaand Azadirachta indicain type-2 diabetes. Bioscan 5, 211–214
- Ghiridhari V. V. A., Malhati D., Geetha K. (2011). Anti-diabetic properties of drumstick (Moringa oleifera) leaf tablets. Int. J. Health Nutr. 2, 1–5