Moringa (Moringa Oleifera), is suddenly a hot topic, as if the world just discoverd all of its many health benefits, inclduing the fact that it appears to be able to help lower blood sugar. Commonly known as “drumstick tree” or “miracle tree”, is a plant native to India and Nepal. This powerful food has been used for thousands of years in traditional Ayurvedic medicine systems in India for better digestive and heart health. This can be attributed to the nutrition of moringa leaves, which are filled with iron, potassium, and vitamin C. In recent years, this superfood has gained popularity as individuals and companies add it to smoothies, açaí bowls, and snack bars.

What is Moringa?

For thousands of years, moringa trees have been cultivated by different cultures throughout India, Africa, Pakistan, and Bangladesh for their health benefits. These trees grow flowers, leaves, bark, and drumsticks – all of which are edible and highly nutritious. In places with tropical climates, moringa seeds are used for their water purification properties. The plant also withstands extreme drought and is often used to treat malnutrition.

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Health Benefits of Moringa

In an exclusive interview with The Beet, James Marin, RD, EN, an integrative registered dietitian and founder of Married to Health, explained the science-backed benefits of moringa and why it’s considered a nutritional powerhouse. Here’s why you should give it a try.

Moringa May Reduce Risk of Cancer

The moringa tree has been studied to have over 40 natural antioxidant compounds such as B-carotene, quercetin, and kaempferol. Antioxidants prevent DNA damage from free radicals that are created in metabolism, Marin says. When free radicals outnumber antioxidants, it can lead to a state called oxidative stress, which increases your risk of chronic diseases. “Polyphenols, a type of antioxidant found in moringa, provide anti-aging, anti-cancer, and mineral absorption benefits,” Marin says.

Moringa May Reduce Pain and Inflammation

“Today, most illnesses that chronically plague our society stem from consistent inflammation.  Moringa suppresses inflammatory enzymes that already exist in the body, and the moringa oleifera pod specifically has bioactive compounds that reduce inflammation in the body via protein kinase pathways,” Marin says. In a 2019 study of 40 healthy adults, participants who were regularly given a moringa powder tablet experienced a decrease in fatigue, lower back pain, shoulder stiffness, and eye soreness over the course of four weeks compared to those who did not consume the moringa. Findings suggest that moringa can be taken orally to reduce pain, however, more research is needed.

Moringa May Decrease LDL Cholesterol

Some reports and trials support the use of this plant and extracts for reducing LDL “bad” cholesterol, Marin says. LDL cholesterol is often deemed as the “bad” cholesterol because it collects in the walls of your blood vessels, which increases your risk of heart disease and stroke. A 2017 study tested the effect of moringa seed powder on lipids, liver function, and heart enzymes in rats. The study found that low doses of moringa seed improved their cholesterol levels, heart enzymes, and restored their liver function as well.

Moringa May Reduce Blood Sugar Levels

Moringa contains many healthful compounds that are beneficial for those with insulin resistance. “Many compounds found in the leaves of moringa might be involved in glucose homeostasis. Additionally, a beneficial effect of moringa includes increasing insulin activity and improving glucose uptake and utilization. Research suggests moringa can be used to reduce insulin resistance and improve blood sugar levels in patients with diabetes,” Marin says.

How To Use Moringa and Where To Find It

“Moringa is safe to be consumed in powder form, dried leaf form, and as capsules but studies suggest not to exceed 70 grams per day to avoid toxicity,” Marin says. If you plan to take moringa powder daily, make sure to speak to your doctor or healthcare provider.

Moringa is generally sold as a powder to be added to smoothies, salad dressings, açaí bowls, and more. It is also available in oil form, where you can directly apply it to the skin to improve elasticity and prevent wrinkles. The drumsticks of the moringa plant can also be used, but in stews and soups like Indian sambar and stir-fry.

It is a great way to get in your recommended amounts of vitamins and minerals. You can find moringa powder at your local health food store or online. Some products that stood out to us are Apothékary’s Moringa Powder, Anima Mundi’s Moringa Superfood Powder, and Kiito Plant Protein Drink, Matcha Moringa.

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