7 Incredible Health Benefits of Moringa
If you’ve never heard of moringa, you’re not the only one. Even though this plant was found to have health benefits thousands of years ago and was used a lot in Ayurveda and other traditional forms of medicine, it wasn't until recently that it was recognized as one of the most effective herbal supplements on the market today.
Well over 1,000 studies and research articles have looked into the benefits of moringa and found that it contains unique compounds that help health in many ways, such as boosting the immune system, fighting cancer, easing digestion, soothing headache pain, lubricating the skin, and more. Indeed, moringa has been nicknamed the “miracle plant.”
What is Moringa?
Moringa is a type of tropical plant that grows in the Himalayas and parts of India and Africa. It comes from the Moringa tree, which is really a tall, leafy plant that produces flowers. There are several different varieties of the moringa tree, but Moringa oleifera is used significantly more often than any of the others.
Research shows that every part of the moringa tree can be used for some purpose, whether cosmetically or for specific health purposes.
Moringa has more than 80 compounds that are good for your health, such as flavonoids, isothiocyanates, and phenolic acids.
Unlike other medicinal plants, almost every part of the moringa plant can be used for food or medicine, including the roots, stems, flowers, leaves, and seeds.
A common medicinal use of this plant involves drying and grinding down the moringa leaves, which contain the majority of its antioxidant properties.
Researchers have discovered that moringa powder is rich in phytochemicals, protein, calcium, beta-carotene, vitamin C, and potassium. Because it is a concentrated source of vitamin A, it is given every year to thousands of children in third-world countries who are deficient in vitamin A and are at risk of getting sick or dying because of it.
A common medicinal use of this plant involves drying and grinding down the moringa leaves, which contain most of its antioxidant properties.
Researchers have discovered that moringa powder is rich in protein, calcium, phytochemicals, vitamin C, and beta-carotene.
Because it has a lot of vitamin A, moringa helps thousands of children in third-world countries avoid vitamin A deficiencies that can hurt their immune systems and even kill them.
This plant also has a lot of rare and powerful phytonutrients (2) that help fight and prevent many diseases, such as:
- Caffeoylquinic acid
As for other nutrients? Well, in an article published in the International Journal of Food Science, researchers noted:
“Moringa is said to provide 7 times more vitamin C than oranges, 10 times more vitamin A than carrots, 17 times more calcium than milk, 9 times more protein than yogurt, 15 times more potassium than bananas, and 25 times more iron than spinach.” (3)
Clearly, moringa is a top superfood that you’ll want to add to your diet for vibrant health.
Top 7 Health Benefits of Moringa
Below are six of the most significant health benefits of Moringa.
1. Moringa May Help Balance Blood Sugar Levels.
Consistently high blood sugar levels can indicate diabetes.
Diabetes is a long-term disease that happens when the pancreas doesn't make enough insulin or when the body can't use insulin properly. The hormone insulin regulates blood glucose levels, so if it's not doing its job properly, blood sugar gradually builds up in the bloodstream and can eventually lead to diabetes.
What is the prevalence of diabetes?
The CDC estimates that 37.3 million people in the United States have diabetes, which is 11.3% of the population. But 96 million adults age 18 and older have prediabetes, which often leads to type 2 diabetes within 10 years (4).
Blood sugar that isn't controlled can cause serious health problems like heart disease, stroke, nerve damage, and even blindness. It can even shorten your life by about 10 years. Keeping your blood sugar within a healthy range is therefore very important.
Intriguingly, several studies suggest that Moringa oleifera may assist in lowering blood sugar levels.
For example, in a study involving 30 women who consumed 1.5 teaspoons of moringa leaf powder daily for three months, researchers observed an average decrease of more than 13% in their fasting blood sugar levels (5).
An additional study of six diabetic individuals found that including 50 grams of moringa in food—in this case, a complete meal—resulted in a 21% reduction in the rise in blood sugar levels (6).
It is believed that plant compounds such as isothiocyanates are responsible for this effect.
In addition, the moringa plant contains chlorogenic acid, a type of acid that helps regulate blood sugar levels and permits cells to take up and release glucose (sugar) as required. Thus, it has natural antidiabetic and hormone-balancing properties.
So, science suggests that consuming moringa daily, like in beverages such as 8th Wonder Rooibos Tea with Moringa, is an excellent way to regulate blood sugar levels.
2. Moringa May Help Improve Digestion
Moringa may also be an exceptional digestive aid.
Traditionally, moringa has been used in ancient systems of medicine, such as Ayurveda, to prevent or treat stomach ulcers, digestive complaints, and infections due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
Moringa extracts may also help with other stomach problems, such as constipation, gastritis, and ulcerative colitis. This is because its antibiotic and antibacterial properties may stop the growth of some pathogens, and its high vitamin B content helps digestion (7).
This is good news for those suffering from digestive issues and disorders, of which there are many.
What is the prevalence of digestive diseases in the United States?
According to the National Institutes of Health, 60 to 70 million people suffer from at least one type of digestive disease (7a), including chronic constipation, ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and chronic acid reflux.
Most people take over-the-counter or prescription medication to relieve digestive discomfort. But why take drugs that often come with unpleasant side effects when you can enjoy sipping a nice, cold can of 8th Wonder Sparkling Rooibos Tea that contains the exact type of moringa shown to improve digestion?
3. Moringa May Soothe and Reduce Inflammation
You’ve heard of inflammation, but do you know what it is and why it occurs?
Inflammation occurs when your immune system releases cells to fight bacteria or heal an injury. Therefore, it plays a crucial role in the immune response. A healthy inflammatory response is your body's first line of defense against pathogens and injuries, and without it, you would die from even the most minor wounds or infections.
But inflammation can cause health problems if it persists for a prolonged period. This is called chronic inflammation.
Chronic inflammation can lead to a variety of chronic health problems, such as heart disease and cancer (8, 9).
Anti-inflammatory properties, which are present in most whole fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices, can help relieve inflammation. But their ability to stop inflammation depends on what kinds of anti-inflammatory compounds they have and how much of them they have.
Isothiocyanates are thought to be the main anti-inflammatory compounds in moringa leaves, pods, and seeds, but they have yet to be thoroughly tested in people (10, 11, 12). So, it remains to be seen whether the isothiocyanates in moringa significantly improve inflammation.
However, the moringa plant has been found to be useful in treating acute inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis (13). A second study showed that moringa lowered inflammation markers as well as cholesterol, insulin, and fat levels in mice. Chronic inflammation could be the underlying cause of all three of these conditions (14).
4. Moringa May Help Protect and Nourish Skin and Hair
Moringa oil is commonly used to enhance wound healing, retain skin moisture, and soothe dry or burned skin.
It’s naturally antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral, so it can protect against a wide range of skin infections (15).
Moringa is a unique and versatile remedy for various skin conditions, as it can both dry and moisturize the skin. If you occasionally apply it to the skin, it has drying and astringent properties that kill bacteria. But if you use it regularly, it lubricates and moisturizes the skin.
Moringa's antioxidants also help reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles on the skin, giving you a more youthful appearance.
In addition, the oil extracted from Moringa seeds helps prevent free radical damage to hair and maintains its healthy appearance.
Skin and hair benefits of moringa may include:
- Increasing collagen production
- Treating acne
- Moisturizing skin and hair
- Reducing dandruff
- Treating athlete’s feet
- Increasing hair growth
- Preventing hair loss
- Reduces premature skin aging
- Healing skin wounds, bites, and burns
5. Moringa May Reduce Cholesterol Levels
Both human and animal studies have demonstrated that Moringa reduces cholesterol, making this one of its most well-documented health benefits.
Consider the study below (16):
Researchers gave 8 grams of Moringa to people with Type 2 diabetes daily for 40 days to see if it changed their blood sugar levels. In fact, it did, but researchers gained much more than they bargained for.
Interestingly, not only did their blood glucose levels decrease, but so did their cholesterol levels, and not by a small amount. There was a significant decrease in the participant's cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels by about 14% and 29%, respectively.
Another study (17) gave a daily dose of 100 mg/kg of Moringa leaf extract to rabbits with high cholesterol levels. A second group took a daily dose of simvastatin, a drug that helps lower LDL cholesterol.
The results of the 12-week study indicated that Moringa had the same effects as Simvastatin in lowering LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and carotid plaque.
Read that again. Moringa worked as well as a prescription drug for lowering LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and carotid plaque!
Why is this important?
Though your body needs cholesterol to make healthy cells and support other bodily functions, too much serum cholesterol can endanger your health and even your life. Indeed, high cholesterol and triglyceride levels are significant risk factors for heart disease.
6. Moringa May Help Improve Mood and Support Brain Function
There is evidence that moringa may help support the brain and nervous system. Indeed, studies suggest that they serve as neuroenhancers, boosting brain function.
The abundance of vitamins C and E in moringa prevents neuronal deterioration and enhances cognitive performance.
This is important for the estimated 55 million people worldwide living with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia (18).
What is Alzheimer's disease? Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia. It is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that causes memory, thinking, and social skills to gradually worsen over time. Eventually, the patient is unable to perform the simplest of tasks.
Moringa also works as a mood-balancing agent because it stabilizes brain chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline, which are vital for memory, mood, and reaction time.
7. Moringa May Help Balance Hormones in Menopausal Woman
Researchers conducted a study in 2014 to determine the effects of moringa and amaranth leaves on inflammatory markers as well as oxidative stress among menopausal women. Researchers were interested in finding out whether these superfoods could be helpful in slowing the aging process by naturally balancing hormones (19).
Before and after supplementation, each participant's fasting blood glucose, hemoglobin, and antioxidant status were measured.
The results showed that taking moringa and amaranth supplements significantly raised antioxidant levels and lowered markers of oxidative stress. Positive increases in hemoglobin and improved fasting blood glucose control were also observed.
These improvements could lead to more balanced hormones that could reduce bothersome menopause symptoms and slow the aging process.
Side Effects and Health Risks of Moringa
Studies have not shown specific adverse reactions from taking moringa orally or applying its extract to the skin or hair. It is well tolerated by most people.
However, there are some cautions you’ll want to keep in mind.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women are advised not to use moringa, as there is insufficient evidence for its safety in this group. There is a possibility that the flowers, root, or bark of this plant may contain harmful chemicals that might cause uterine contractions that can complicate pregnancy (20).
Other than that, moringa leaf powder has been shown to be safe in human studies, even when administered in larger doses than would normally be prescribed (21)
Research is limited on the potential interactions between moringa, medications, and herbal supplements.
However, there is reason to believe that moringa may interact with the following:
Diabetes medications. Diabetes drugs are meant to reduce blood sugar levels, a function that moringa also performs successfully. It is essential to prevent blood sugar levels from falling too low.
Medications for high blood pressure. Moringa has been demonstrated to reduce blood pressure. So, using moringa with other blood-pressure-lowering medications may result in dangerously low blood pressure.
So, you should always carefully study the label of any supplement with a medical professional and talk about how it might interact with food, other supplements, and medicines.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does moringa taste like?
If you eat moringa as a leaf, it tastes similar to spinach or kale (22). Powdered moringa has a stronger flavor due to its concentrated nature.
If you’re eating moringa seeds, you’ll notice that they have a mildly sweet taste, similar to green beans.
There are those who don’t like the taste of moringa, and if you’re one of them, don’t worry. The taste is easily concealed by adding moringa to a smoothie or other beverages. he
Is it okay to take moringa every day?
Moringa is a superfood with multiple health benefits. However, you should speak with your healthcare provider before consuming it daily, especially if in significant amounts. This is particularly important if you have health conditions or are taking medications.
Does moringa contain caffeine?
Moringa is 100% free of caffeine, making it an excellent beverage if you’d like to cut back on your caffeine consumption.
The moringa plant has been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years, but only recently has it gained fame as the "superfood of superfoods."
Moringa packs a nutritional punch and has anti-inflammatory properties. Their ability to fight free radicals and protect cellular health makes them a new superfood health enhancer.
Research shows that moringa may soothe inflammation, reduce blood glucose levels, lower blood pressure, boost brain function, and more.
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