Moringa is often called the drumstick tree. It has been used for millennia for its powerful antioxidant and bioactive compounds.
Moringa oleifera, as it is scientifically called, contains essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals and offers great medicinal benefits (1).
Science has uncovered the goodness of moringa in great detail. In this post, we will explore how it can benefit your health.
Table Of Contents
What Are The Health Benefits Of Moringa?
Moringa is replete with important antioxidants that fight oxidative stress and related diseases. The plant can fight inflammation and may aid the treatment of cancer and diabetes. It may also strengthen bones and improve brain health.
1. May Help Prevent Cancer
Moringa root has been found to induce cancer cell death. Though all parts of the moringa plant can help kill cancer cells, the root was found to be the most potent (2).
Moringa also may play a remarkable role in the prevention and treatment of cancers of the breast and colon. Specific compounds in the plant, known as nanocomposites, were found to destroy cancerous cells while sparing the healthy ones (2).
Eugenol (another compound in moringa) was found to prevent cancers of the skin, colon, and prostate (3). The plant prevents the cancer cells from forming colonies in the body. In other words, it inhibits the spread of cancer within the body.
Extracts of moringa may also inhibit cancers of the liver and the lung (4).
2. Can Fight Inflammation
The flavonoids in moringa can help fight inflammation (5). This way, the plant also has a role to play in the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases (including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s Disease).
Moringa was also effective in blocking certain cytokines that promote inflammation in the human body. The extracts of moringa seeds also have anti-inflammatory properties (5).
The anti-inflammatory properties of moringa may also help relieve rheumatic pain (6).
The most potent of the phytochemicals in moringa that fight inflammation include flavonoids and isothiocyanates. Their anti-inflammatory potential is so intense that studies emphasize their ability to prevent or treat inflammatory conditions like diabetes, cancer, and arthritis (7).
3. May Aid Diabetes Treatment
In certain rat studies, moringa seed powder was found to exhibit antidiabetic properties. Moringa contains fiber, which can help reduce blood glucose levels. Fortification of a diabetes diet with moringa was found to lower fasting blood glucose levels (8).
In another study, women who took 7 grams of moringa leaf powder every day for three months observed a reduction in their fasting blood glucose levels (9).
Another small study showed that including moringa leaves in the diet may lower blood sugar levels. The participants of the study saw a 21% decrease in blood sugar levels (10).
Treating diabetic rats with moringa seed powder restored the histology of both the kidneys and the pancreas, thereby improving the symptoms. It is possible that these effects could be observed in humans as well (11).
4. May Promote Heart Health
Moringa improved cardiac diastolic function in hypertensive rats. It also reduced fibrosis (the scarring of connective tissue) in one of the ventricles (12).
Moringa also helps lower cholesterol levels, which can help improve heart health. In a study, the plant was found to increase the excretion of fecal cholesterol (13).
Moringa pods are replete with polyunsaturated fatty acids, including linoleic, linolenic, and oleic acids. These have the ability to lower cholesterol. Moringa seed oil contains 76% PUFAs, and it can be an ideal substitute for olive oil (14).
Moringa leaf extract may also lower blood pressure levels. This extract reduced oxidative stress and relieved vascular dysfunction in hypertensive rats (15). This effect can potentially ward off heart disease.
5. Enhances Digestive Health
Moringa was found to modulate the composition of gut bacteria and offer associated benefits. It has a role to play in treating digestive inflammation and preventing high-fat-induced obesity (16).
Moringa increases the concentrations of Bifidobacteria in the gut, which are the major class of bacteria making up the gastrointestinal microbiota (16).
Moringa may also contain active agents with gastroprotective properties that promote digestive health and enhance the mucus lining of the gut (17).
The plant can also treat and prevent ulcers (17).
6. May Strengthen Bones
Moringa was found to have a miraculous effect on bone integrity and may prevent osteoporosis (20). Specific flavonoids in moringa may also stimulate osteoblastic cells, which are cells that synthesize bones.
However, there are very few studies stressing the bone-protective properties of moringa. Certain other studies are yet to conclude if intake of moringa actually impacts bone health in a positive way (19).
7. May Promote Brain Health
In animal studies, moringa mitigated neurodegeneration and memory impairment (21). Moringa seemed to work by preventing the reduction of neuronal density, a phenomenon that happens to accelerate with age.
The plant also fights oxidative stress, which is a major cause of cognitive decline (21). Studies conclude that moringa could be used as a medicinal food for the treatment of dementia.
The ability of moringa to fight oxidative stress can also protect the brain during a stroke (22).
Moringa extracts, when taken along with certain antidepressants, were also found to aid depression treatment (23).
8. May Help Treat Anemia
Though more research is needed, one study states that moringa can increase blood iron levels, thereby treating anemia (24). This is especially true with moringa leaves, which are iron-rich. The vitamin C in moringa also increases iron absorption in the body.
9. May Improve Liver Health
Moringa has been found to protect the liver against various toxins. It achieves this by lowering excess cholesterol in the liver. In studies, rats with fatty liver were fed with a diet fortified with moringa. They showed decreased levels of triglycerides. This is an indication of a healthy liver (25).
Moringa (and its leaves) may also prevent hepatic steatosis (infiltration of liver cells by fat). It also helps fights liver inflammation (26).
Moringa may also enhance the recovery of the liver from hepatic damage induced by antitubercular drugs (27).
10. May Help Fight Bacterial Infections
Aqueous extracts of moringa had shown to fight bacteria and fungus, thereby inhibiting certain infections (28).
In another study, moringa exhibited antimicrobial activity against Staphylococcus aureus, Vibrio cholerae, and Escherichia coli (29).
11. Can Prevent Arsenic Toxicity
Arsenic toxicity is a serious concern. It is more prevalent in areas where water contaminated with arsenic is used for irrigation and cooking (30).
Mice studies show that moringa can offer protective effects against arsenic toxicity (31).
Moringa also displays hepatoprotective properties against arsenic toxicity. The plant achieves this by combating the generation of reactive oxygen species and free radicals (32).
12. May Have Anti-Aging Benefits
This is especially true with moringa leaves. They are also replete with antioxidants like vitamins A, B, and C, which can contribute to skin health (33).
In studies, the use of a facial cream with moringa as the primary ingredient significantly improved the skin elasticity and hydration in the participants (33). The plant also enhanced the division of fibroblasts (cells in the connective tissue that produce collagen and other fibers), thereby promoting skin appearance and texture.
The antioxidants in moringa can also offer anti-aging benefits. They work to protect the skin cells from environmental stressors, including UV radiation. These properties make moringa an ingredient of promise in upcoming anti-aging skin care products (34).
13. May Treat Acne And Other Skin Issues
Thanks to its antifungal properties, moringa may also help treat certain skin diseases (35). Its antimicrobial activity against Staphylococcus aureus may help treat pimples, boils, carbuncles, and abscesses.
14. May Aid Weight Loss
The weight loss effects of moringa are not well studied. A small study emphasizes the ability of moringa to prevent weight gain. This effect can be attributed to isothiocyanates, a class of compounds in moringa (36).
More research is warranted pertaining to the ability of moringa to induce weight loss. Hence, consult your doctor before you consume moringa for this purpose.
These are the various benefits of moringa. You can have the drumsticks (pods) along with the leaves as well. In the following section, we will look at the nutritional profile of the pods.
What Is The Nutritional Profile Of Moringa?
|Nutrient Data For: Drumstick pods, raw|
|Nutrient||Unit||Value per 100 g|
|Total lipid (fat)||g||0.2|
|Carbohydrate, by difference||g||8.53|
|Fiber, total dietary||g||3.2|
|Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid||mg||141|
|Vitamin A, RAE||µg||4|
|Vitamin A, IU||IU||74|
|Fatty acids, total saturated||g||0.033|
|Fatty acids, total monounsaturated||g||0.102|
|Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated||g||0.003|
|Fatty acids, total trans||g||0|
Source: USDA, drumstick pods, raw
Moringa is a humble plant with several vital nutrients. It is easily available and inexpensive, and including it in your diet shouldn’t be a problem at all.
How To Include Moringa In Your Diet
Here are a few simple ways:
- Add chopped and cooked moringa drumsticks to your soup/curry.
- Add moringa powder to your salad.
- Mix moringa powder with your morning smoothie for a quick boost of taste and nutrition.
- Add the powder to your brownie or cracker mixture.
You can also make moringa tea, which would be a tasteful way to add the goodness of the plant to your diet. The tea can be prepared using moringa leaves, which can be procured here. These leaves are already air-dried.
You can grind them in a blender until you achieve a powdery consistency. Add this ground moringa to tea bags and store them in a cool and dry place. Add this powder to hot water, along with some lemon and sugar.
But before you go ahead with moringa, you need to be aware of its side effects.
What Are The Side Effects Of Moringa?
- May Hinder Nutrient Absorption
Moringa leaves may contain antinutrients that can hinder the absorption of certain nutrients (including protein) (37). These antinutrients include tannins, trypsin inhibitors, nitrates, and oxalic acid (38). Hence, if you are taking medications/supplements for nutrient deficiency, please check with your doctor before consuming moringa.
- May Interact With Thyroid Medication
Moringa can have thyroid-like properties (39). Though its interaction with thyroid medication (with hypothyroidism) hasn’t been documented, it is better to check with your doctor.
- May Lower Blood Sugar Levels Way Too Much
We have seen that moringa can help lower blood sugar levels (8). If you are already on medications for treating high blood sugar, moringa might lead to hypoglycemia. Hence, please check with your doctor.
- May Lower Blood Pressure Levels Way Too Much
Moringa can also help lower blood pressure levels (15). If you are already on medications for treating high blood pressure, consuming moringa might lead to hypotension. Hence, it is important to talk to your doctor.
- Can Be Harmful During Pregnancy
A study states that moringa may cause violent uterine contractions, possibly leading to abortion (40). However, another report documents the use of moringa leaves to curb malnutrition in pregnant and breastfeeding women (41).
These studies are conflicting. Hence, please be on the safe side and do not consume moringa without consulting your doctor.
Moringa is replete with essential nutrients. It is easily available and easy to add to your diet. However, it is important to remember that most studies are done in vitro or on small number of humans, so they cannot be declared conclusive. There is a need for larger evidence-based research for advocating the incorporation of moringa into therapeutic practice. Be cautious about moringa’s ability to hinder nutrient absorption. More importantly, pregnant and breastfeeding women must consult with their doctor before taking moringa.
Do you include moringa in your diet? How often? Do let us know by leaving a comment in the box below.
Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions
How to eat dry moringa seeds?
You can add moringa seeds to soups, stews, and sauces. You can also air-dry them add them to muffin mixes and bread mixes.
Can you take moringa on an empty stomach?
Yes, you can take moringa on an empty stomach.
What is the ideal dosage for moringa?
There is less information on the ideal dosage for moringa. If you have any specific health condition, please consult your doctor on the dosage.
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