The Moringa oleifera tree is grown in many parts of the world and can tolerate hostile conditions and poor soils. It is a very useful tree and practically every part of it can be used as food or in traditional medicine. Moringa seeds are eaten either in the immature pod or when fully maturated. The seeds can also be pressed to produce Moringa oil, which is used in cooking, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. You can buy Moringa seeds and oil online; organic varieties are also available.
Moringa seeds are rich in oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid. Oleic acid is typically associated with olive oil, as the latter is one of the main sources of this unsaturated fat in the diet. Oleic acid is believed to be one of the factors responsible for the health-promoting effects of the Mediterranean diet, and according to the 2007 issue of "Alternative Medicine Review," evidence is accumulating that it may help protect against cancer.
Moringa seeds are rich in the vitamins A and C and the mineral iron. Vitamin A is important for eye health and night vision, healthy skin, hair and nails and cell growth. Vitamin C is an important antioxidant that protects you from the damaging effects of free radicals. It is also important in wound healing, immune function and collagen synthesis. Iron is an important component of red blood cells and a low intake causes iron-deficiency anemia. Vegetarians and women tend to be particularly at risk of iron deficiency.
The June 2010 issue of "Revista do Instituto de Medicina Tropical de Sao Paulo" reported that researchers have discovered that extracts from the moringa seeds have antibacterial effects. In this study, the extract exhibited a bactericidal effect against Staphylococcus aureus, Vibrio cholerae and Escherichia coli. This gives credence to the use of moringa seeds and leaves as an antiseptic in traditional medicine.
A similar study, reported in the June 2009 issue of "Anais da Academia Brasileira de Ciencias," investigated the larvicidal effect of moringa seed extract. The researchers found that this extract was toxic to the larvae of the yellow fever mosquito, an insect that spreads a number of diseases. On the other hand it was found that the extract was harmless to rats. The authors conclude that the seeds and their extract could be used in mosquito control programs.
- "Moringa Seeds"; N. Foild et al; 1995
- "Alternative Medicine Review"; Active Components and Clinical Applications of Olive Oil; E. Waterman et al; 2007
- "Revista do Instituto de Medicina Tropical de Sao Paulo"; Antibacterial effect (in vitro) of Moringa oleifera and Annona muricata against Gram positive and Gram negative bacteria; GH. Viera; June 2010
- "Anais da Academia Brasileira de Ciencias"; Larvicidal activity of the water extract of Moringa oleifera seeds against Aedes aegypti and its toxicity upon laboratory animals; PM. Ferreira et al; June 2009