Everyone loves a good health hack. No time to prepare and eat a whole chicken breast? Slam down a protein drink. Looking for an easier way to get in some benefits of leafy vegetables? Try moringa. If you haven’t heard of this humble superfood that also goes by the name of “horseradish tree” or “miracle tree,” let’s get you acquainted.
What Is Moringa?
Moringa is a nutrient-dense, super-green plant that touts a host of healthy benefits. And while this buzzy superfood might be fairly new to the Western food scene, this plant has been used in Ayurvedic diet for thousands of years.
It hails from the moringa oleifera tree that’s found in dry, tropical climates of West Africa, Pakistan, and India. Moringa trees are known to grow like weeds and withstand drought-like conditions. They mature quickly, often flowering in six months and soaring to Jack and the Beanstalk heights.
Beloved for its edible flowers, leaves, and seed pods (that can be eaten whole), the plant is usually dried and then ground into a fine powder, which loosely resembles matcha. And, while the seeds are slightly sweet; the nutty, ground leaves are grassy, earthy, and slightly peppery, making it a tasty tea or a fun addition to smoothies.
What Are the Health Benefits of Moringa?
The potent and slightly bitter leaves pack a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals, and it may also work in combination with other thermogenic agents as a natural stimulant to help provide a caffeine-free, energized buzz.
Like most good things green, this green plant stands up to other fruits and vegetables with impressive vigor. “Organic moringa powder, per rounded tablespoon, has approximately 35 calories, 3g protein, 0.5g fat, 3g fiber, 15 percent daily value for calcium, and contributes some iron, potassium, and vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene,” says Krista Maguire, RD, CSSD, and nutrition manager at Openfit.
Comparatively, the NGO Trees for Life claims in the Ecology of Food and Nutrition Journal that gram for gram, moringa leaves contain more calcium of cow’s milk and three times the potassium of a banana. Hows that for a health hack?
Is Moringa Good for Weight Loss?
In addition to all those health benefits, this green superfood may also aid in the process of losing weight. An eight-week study with 50 obese subjects found that those who consumed a herbal formulation comprised partly of moringa oleifera saw significant weight loss compared to those who received the placebo.
However, this doesn’t exactly prove a direct correlation between moringa and weight loss, just that it can be helpful in the process of losing weight. That’s because the supplement in this study wasn’t purely moringa, and the participants also followed a calorie-controlled diet and walked 30 minutes a day for five days a week for the duration of the study.
But morgina leaves do contain chlorogenic acid, which can help maintain healthy blood sugar levels. This in turn can help stave off pesky hunger cravings, which can help with weight loss goals.
How to Use Moringa
Given this plant’s growing conditions, fresh leaves are not as widely available in US markets. But that doesn’t mean you can’t easily acquire it in other form:s health-minded supermarket aisles and online retailers stock moringa-based supplements like oils, pills, energy shots, nutrition bars, and teas—in the original flavor alongside fruit-infused varietals.
Looking for an easy way to incorporate into your diet? Opt for raw dried-leaf powder and start with a half-teaspoon, easily blended into everything from smoothies to juices. Alternatively, you can simply dissolve moringa powder into water, which produces a slightly earthy, herbaceous profile.
If you want to get fancy, you can also sprinkle raw powder onto warm oatmeal, popcorn, or even add some into pesto to go on top of your favorite pasta. Get creative! Moringa makes it easy to turn your everyday dishes into something even more nutritious.