BY PETER VIELE Moringa
This miraculous superfood just might change the world
Westerners who have heard of moringa oleifera might think it is a relative
newcomer to the canon of superfoods. But for a lot of the world, particularly Asia,
Africa, South America and the Caribbean, the leafy green vegetable has been an
important dietary staple for centuries. Originally, it was believed to have been discov-ered
at the base of the Himalayas, but researchers have found it as far back as ancient
Egypt, where it was used in skin ointments.
So, what is moringa and why is it called a “miracle tree?” Colloquially referred
to as the drumstick tree or horseradish tree in India, moringa is a nutrient-dense
powerhouse that boasts antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, hypoglycemic,
neuroprotective and antimicrobial properties.
It possesses high doses of vitamins C, B and A, and is particularly rich in calcium,
protein, iron, omega-3 fatty acids and selenium. It has 25 times more iron than
spinach, 17 times more calcium than milk, 15 times more potassium than bananas,
10 times more vitamin A than carrots, nine times more protein than yogurt and seven
times more vitamin C than oranges.
Though it’s a called a tree, it’s technically a vegetable, as the bark, leaves, seed pods
and even roots are all edible. It can come in dried form as a powder for herbal teas and
capsule supplements, and can be added to everything from smoothies and oatmeal to
pesto sauce and soups.
In raw form, it can replace kale, spinach, collards or arugula in many dishes, while
the seed pods are pretty close to the pea family in terms of flavor.
Remarkably, moringa is even being used to mitigate climate change as it grows rela-tively
easily, requires little water, helps prevent desertification in Africa, and sequesters
CO2 in soil. It’s also being investigated as an alternative fuel source and water purifier.
If that’s still not enough reason for all the buzz behind moringa, it’s even being
researched as a phytomedicine — a herbal medicine with therapeutic and healing
properties — for everything from cancer to Alzheimer’s.
The astounding benefits of moringa almost seem too good to be
true, but do a quick search of all its applications and current pharma-cological
studies and you’ll quickly discover what the excitement is
While there are plenty of superfoods from quinoa to
kale, nothing comes close to moringa’s astonishingly
rich benefits as a food, a sustainable crop, and a
Moringa is fairly common in powder
form, but the seed pods and leaves can be
tougher to find locally. Call ahead to
Asian Life Market, Saigon Market or
Shelton Herb Farm.