Yes, moringa smells funny and you may have to shut your eyes to take it, but its health benefits are really worth it!
Moringa, a relatively large tree native to North India, has nearly all its parts edible or useful as ingredients in preparing traditional herbal medicines.
Let’s discuss why moringa is healthy and beneficial for you.
Moringa Can Lower Cholesterol
High cholesterol levels have been linked to an elevated risk of heart disease. Thankfully, many plant foods are capable of reducing cholesterol. They include almonds, oats, and flaxseeds.
Luckily, studies on animals and humans have found that moringa may, in fact, have significant cholesterol-reducing effects. This means that moringa can potentially reduce the risks of heart disease.
Rich in Antioxidants
As you must already know antioxidants are compounds that combat free radicals in the body. Free radicals could lead to oxidative stress, which is closely connected to serious diseases like type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
Thankfully, certain antioxidant plant compounds are contained in moringa leaves. These antioxidants include vitamin C, beta-carotene, quercetin (which help to lower blood pressure, and chlorogenic acid (responsible for regulating blood sugar levels).
A study conducted on women found that consuming about 7 grams of moringa leaf powder daily for three months can significantly increase antioxidant levels in the blood.
Additionally, not many people know that moringa leaf extract can also act as a food preservative. It elongates the shelf life of meat by slowing oxidation.
Moringa leaves are very nutritious as they are an excellent source of protein, vitamins, iron, and riboflavin. In fact, in Western countries, moringa dried leaves are sold as dietary supplements, both in capsule and powder form.
Similar to its leaves, its pods are lower in vitamins and minerals. However, they are significantly high in vitamin C. As little as a cup of sliced pods contains up to 157% of what is required by the body daily!
Sometimes, people in developing countries lack nutrients such as protein, vitamins, and minerals. Luckily, moringa can be an excellent source of these essential nutrients. There’s just one downside to taking moringa leaves: The level of their antinutrients may be high, which can lead to a reduction in the absorption of protein and minerals.
One other thing to note is that moringa supplements in capsules would not give you sufficient nutrients. The truth is, the number of nutrients you get will be insignificant when compared to what you get from eating a balanced diet made up of whole foods.
The body’s natural response to injuries or infections is Inflammation. This implies that it is a vital protective measure but could become a serious health problem if it continues for too long. In fact, protracted inflammation is connected to certain chronic health issues such as cancer and heart disease.
Of course, there are vegetables, spices, herbs, and whole fruits with anti-inflammatory properties, but their ability to help depend largely on their types and quantity of anti-inflammatory compounds.
Interestingly, isothiocyanates are the major anti-inflammatory compounds found in moringa leaves, seeds, and its pods. Although so far, studies have been limited to animals and test-tubes, it is believed that moringa has just about the same anti-inflammatory effects on humans.
Lowers Blood Sugar Levels
High blood sugar levels can lead to chronic health problems. As a matter of fact, it is the primary sign of diabetes. Over a protracted period, high blood sugar levels increase the risks of certain serious health issues, including cardiovascular diseases. This is why it is advisable to keep blood sugar levels within healthy limits.
Fortunately, many studies have indicated that moringa may be helpful in lowering blood sugar levels.
Although most of these studies were carried on animals, a few human-based studies actually exist and are generally considered to be of low quality.
What this means is that moringa leaves may actually lower blood sugar levels, but more studies are required before any reliable recommendations can be offered.
Protects Against Arsenic Toxicity
Have you ever heard of arsenic toxicity? It is simply the contamination of food and water and sadly, it is an issue in many parts of the world. Being exposed to high levels of arsenic for a long period of time may result in certain health issues over time.
Some studies have connected a prolonged arsenic exposure to an elevated risk of heart disease and cancer.
The good news is, many studies in rats and mice have found that moringa leaves and seeds have the ability to protect the body against certain effects of arsenic toxicity. The results are positive, however, it’s not yet clear whether this is also applicable to humans.
The Bottom Line
As we mentioned earlier, moringa is an Indian tree that has been used for centuries as an ingredient in preparing the traditional medicine. However, only about a few of the several known health benefits of moringa have been actually studied.
Some studies have shown that moringa may result in some reductions in cholesterol and blood sugar levels. The herb may also have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects while also protecting the body against arsenic toxicity. For people who lack in essential nutrients, moringa leaves are also very nutritious.
If you can move past its foul taste and smell, moringa is exactly what you need to for your overall health and well-being. Alternatively, you can try out moringa supplements and enjoy all they have to offer!