Moringa Oleifera

Moringa oleifera is a fast- growing, drought-resistant tree of the family Moringaceae, native to the Indian subcontinent. It is often called the drumstick tree, the miracle tree, the ben oil tree, or the horseradish tree. It is widely cultivated for its young seed pods and leaves used as vegetables and for traditional herbal medicine. It is also used for water purification.

Moringa is mainly grown in tropical, subtropical and semiarid areas. The moringa tree grows best in the temperature range of 77 to 95 °F (approximately 25 to 35°C)  and under direct sunlight. The tree requires slightly acidic to alkaline soil (pH 5.0–9.0). However, the tree can easily tolerate excess temperature, up to 48 °C and frost in the winter, and a wide variety of soil conditions although it grows best in ample sunlight and heat. It cannot grow in waterlogged soil or a freezing environment. Moringa can be grown by direct seeding or cuttings. This plant grows faster and requires minimal care.

You can go ahead plant this tree if your surrounding environment is favorable for its growth.

Even though moringa has only recently gained popularity as a superfood, it has been a part of the Ayurvedic system of medicine for ages and is still considered a key ingredient in many Ayurvedic preparations. Moringa is known as shigru, shobhanjanor sahijanin Ayurveda. It has been termed as superfood due to the high presence of nutritional values in every part of this plant.This powerful food is known to have antifungal, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. Many cultures throughout the world have used moringa as part of traditional home remedies. The leaves and drumsticks have a lot of fibre, nutrients, proteins and minerals. Apart from this it is also a rich source of amino acids, with significant amounts of vitamin A, C, and E, calcium, potassium, and protein, which makes for a perfect everyday nutritional supplement. The seeds, pods and flowers are also too full of nutrients. The leaves of Moringa contains fat, carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, C,  calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, manganese, phosphorus, sodium and potassium. The pods of Moringa contains carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins A, B1 , B2, B3, B5, B6, B9 and Vitamin C and also contains a large number of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, manganese, phosphorus, sodium and potassium and zinc.

Every single part of this plant is filled with miraculous properties and one by one we will go through each one of them, in details.

Fruit Pods

The young, slender fruits, commonly known as “drumsticks”, are prepared as a culinary vegetable, often cut into shorter lengths and stewed in curries and soups. The taste is described as reminiscent of asparagus, with a hint of green beans, though sweeter, from the immature seeds contained inside. Because the outer skin is tough and fibrous, drumsticks are often chewed to extract the juices and nutrients, with the remaining fibrous material discarded. Others describe a slightly different method of sucking out the flesh and tender seeds and discarding the tube of skin. The drumsticks are a significant source of Vitamin C and rich in minerals like iron – one of the reasons why it’s always been recommended as a nutritional source for children or expectant mothers. The different recipes with this are as follows:

Drumstick Mutton Masala

Ingredients:

½ kg mutton

2 drumsticks, chopped into finger-sized pieces

2 onions

2 tomatoes

2 tsp ginger garlic paste

2 tsp chilli powder

½ tsp garam masala

½ tsp ground pepper

½ tsp turmeric powder

A small bunch mint leaves

2 sprigs curry leaves

A few sprigs fresh coriander leaves

1 ½ tsp fennel seeds

2-3 small coconut pieces  

1 bay leaf

3 cloves

Method:

1. Pressure cook the mutton with ginger garlic paste, salt and turmeric powder for 5 minutes and keep it aside.

2. Grind separately the onions, tomatoes, fennel seeds and coconut.

3. Heat oil in a pan, add bay leaves, cloves and fresh mint. Then add the onion paste and cook for a few minutes. Add the tomato paste.

4. Add the chilli powder, pepper powder and garam masala; cook well. Then add the coconut and fennel paste.

5. Add drumstick and sauté it. Add the pressure cooked mutton along with the broth to this mixture and boil on a medium flame till the drumstick is cooked. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves.

Thrissur-style Drumstick Sambar

(Recipe by Madhavi Kutty)

This is a typical Drumstick Sambar recipe from one of the tharavads (anscestral homes) in the Thrissur area in South India where the strong presence of coconut works really well in tandem with the flavour of drumstick.

Ingredients:

1 cup toor dal

3 drumsticks, chopped into finger-sized pieces

10 onion shallots

2 small tomatoes, chopped

2 green chillies

½ tsp turmeric

1 ½ tsp salt

A small ball of tamarind (size of small gooseberry)

1 ½ Tbsp sambar powder (this usually contains red chilli powder and asafoetida)

1 tsp mustard seeds

2-3 sprigs curry leaves

2 dried red chillies

½ cup freshly ground coconut

4 tsp coconut oil (you can substitute with rice bran oil but it doesn’t taste quite the same)

Method:

1. Soak tamarind in water and keep aside.

2. Pressure cook toor dal and keep it aside.

3. Boil drumsticks, tomatoes, shallots (use half the quantity), turmeric powder, green chillies, and salt.

4. Extract the tamarind water from the tamarind and add it to the above sambar mix and let it boil for a few minutes.

5. Stir fry coconut with the other half of the shallots in coconut oil. Blend this in a mixer once it cools down. Add the sambar powder to this mixture and then blend this with the toor dal. Add this mixture to the boiling water.  

6. For the tempering: add mustard seeds to 2 teaspoons of coconut oil; once it splutters, add curry leaves and red chillies.

7. Add this to the sambar and garnish with fresh coriander.

Leaves

The leaves are the most nutritious part of the plant, being a significant source of B vitamins, vitamin C, provitamin A as beta-carotene, vitamin K, manganese, and protein. When compared with common foods particularly high in certain nutrients per 100 g fresh weight, cooked moringa leaves are considerable sources of these same nutrients. The leaves are cooked and used like spinach, and are commonly dried and crushed into a powder used in soups and sauces or as a supplement for pets.

Moringa leaf extracts might help treat some stomach disorders, such as constipation, gastritis, and ulcerative colitis. The antibiotic and antibacterial properties of moringa may help inhibit the growth of various pathogens, and its high vitamin B content helps with digestion. For long-term use and storage, moringa leaves may be dried and powdered to preserve their nutrients. Sun, shade, freeze and oven drying at 50–60 °C are all acceptable methods, of retaining the specific micro- and macronutrients.The powder is commonly added to soups, sauces and smoothies. Owing to its high nutritional density, moringa leaf powder is valued as a dietary supplement and may be used to enrichfood products ranging from dairy, such as yogurt and cheese, to baked goods, such as bread and pastries, with acceptable sensory evaluation.

Seeds

Moringa seeds are obtained from the pods of the Moringa plant (Moringa Oleifera) or the drumstick tree, native to Northern India. Fresh and raw moringa seeds are quite tender, but as soon as they get dried, they become hard and start to resemble small beans. They are greyish-white in colour with unique wing-like structures. They can be steamed, boiled or roasted for various purposes or eaten like peas or roasted like nuts. They contain high levels of vitamin C, moderate amounts of B vitamins and dietary minerals such as calcium and phosphorous, which help keep bones healthy and strong. Along with its anti-inflammatory properties moringa seed extract might help to treat conditions such as arthritis and may also heal damaged bones.

Mature seeds yield 38–40{23de89c06d92e5f29ea817eabc964c4828010d5afa6837b2369b0f9cccf283fb} edible oil called ben oil from its high concentration of behenic acid. The refined oil is clear and odorless. The seed cake remaining after oil extraction may be used as a fertilizer or as a water purifier. Moringa seed oil also has potential for use as a biofuel. The variety of uses it can be put into are as follows:

Source of High Fibre

Moringa seeds are high in fibre, and help in moving food along your digestive system.

Regulate Blood Sugar Levels

Moringa seeds are a great source of zinc and can regulate blood sugar levels which can help manage or even prevent diabetes.

Great source of Iron

Moringa seeds are a great source of iron and provide more iron than spinach. This is especially important for vegetarians/vegans or those who suffer from low iron issues, as the body needs iron to enrich the blood and carry oxygen to our muscles, organs and tissues.

Reduces Joint Pain

Moringa seeds make for a great supplement of calcium and help those suffering from joint pain. They help in reducing inflammation and severe bone disorders like arthritis.

Induces death of carcinogens

Moringa seeds are well known for their anti-carcinogenic effects. They can stop the growth and development of cancer cells by accelerating their death count.

Putting all of it together, including Moringa in your daily diet has an unending list of benefits which are as follows:

1. Protecting and nourishing skin and hair

Moringa seed oil is beneficial for protecting hair against free radicals and keeps it clean and healthy. Moringa also contains protein, which means it is helpful in protecting skin cells from damage. It also contains hydrating and detoxifying elements, which also boost the skin and hair. It can be successful in curing skin infections and sores.

2. Treating edema

Edema is a painful condition where fluid builds up in specific tissues in the body. The anti-inflammatory properties of moringa may be effective in preventing edema from developing.

3. Protecting the liver

Moringa appears to protect the liver against damage caused by anti-tubercular drugs and can quicken its repair process.

4. Preventing and treating cancer

Moringa extracts contain properties that might help prevent cancer developing. It also contains niazimicin, which is a compound that suppresses the development of cancer cells.

5. Treating stomach complaints

Moringa extracts might help treat some stomach disorders, such as constipation, gastritis, and ulcerative colitis. The antibiotic and antibacterial properties of moringa may help inhibit the growth of various pathogens, and its high vitamin B content helps with digestion.

6. Fighting against bacterial diseases

Due to its antibacterial, antifungal, and antimicrobial properties, moringa extracts might combat infections caused by Salmonella, Rhizopus, and E. coli.

7. Making bones healthier

Moringa also contains calcium and phosphorous, which help keep bones healthy and strong. Along with its anti-inflammatory properties moringa extract might help to treat conditions such as arthritis and may also heal damaged bones.

8. Treating mood disorders

Moringa is thought to be helpful in treating depression, anxiety, and fatigue.

9. Protecting the cardiovascular system

The powerful antioxidants found in Moringa extract might help prevent cardiac damage and has also been shown to maintain a healthy heart.

10. Helping wounds to heal

Extract of moringa has been shown to help wounds close as well as reduce the appearance of scars.

11. Treating diabetes

Moringa helps to reduce the amount of glucose in the blood, as well as sugar and protein in the urine. This improved the hemoglobin levels and overall protein content in those tested.

12. Treating asthma

Moringa may help reduce the severity of some asthma attacks and protect against bronchial constrictions. It has also been shown to assist with better lung function and breathing overall.

13. Protecting against kidney disorders

People may be less likely to develop stones in the kidneys, bladder or uterus if they ingest moringa extract. Moringa contains high levels of antioxidants that might aid toxicity levels in the kidneys.

14. Reducing high blood pressure

Moringa contains isothiocyanate and niaziminin, compounds that help to stop arteries from thickening, which can cause blood pressure to rise.

15. Improving eye health

Moringa contains eyesight-improving properties thanks to its high antioxidant levels. Moringa may stop the dilation of retinal vessels, prevent the thickening of capillary membranes, and inhibit retinal dysfunction.

16. Treating anemia and sickle cell disease

Moringa might help a person’s body absorb more iron, therefore increasing their red blood cell count. It is thought the plant extract is very helpful in treating and preventing anemia and sickle cell disease.

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