Moringa Leaves & Weight Loss

The edible parts of the Moringa oleifera tree include nutlike seeds, roots that resemble horseradish, and leaves that can be enjoyed fresh or in supplemental form. The leaves are valued as a source of antioxidants and nutrients. They're quite low in calories, and they're great for a low-carb diet, though it's not known how much they actually help with weight loss. More importantly, you shouldn’t consume more than is advised on the label because high doses can cause side effects. Be sure to talk to your doctor before using supplements if you have any health concerns or take prescription medications.

The Moringa tree is also known as the drumstick or horseradish tree. (Image: bdspn/iStock/Getty Images)

Fiber in Moringa Leaves for Weight Loss

Fiber is essential for your health -- and you'll get some from Moringa leaves -- but the amount you'll get varies depending on the product. Insoluble fiber prevents constipation, while soluble fiber lowers cholesterol and feeds the good microbes in your gut. It's also your friend when you want to lose weight. As fiber absorbs water, it bulks up a bit, making it easier to stop eating because you feel full. And it slows down food absorption, which prevents spikes in blood sugar. You need to keep blood sugar balanced if you want to burn the most fat.

When blood sugar goes up, insulin enters the bloodstream. If there’s more sugar than you need for energy, insulin sends it to the liver, where some of it is stored as glycogen, then the excess is turned into fat and stored in fat cells. In other words, when your blood sugar spikes, you’re more likely to store fat than burn it.

One cup of fresh Moringa leaves has 2 percent of the daily value of fiber, based on consuming 2,000 calories daily. To make supplemental powder, whole leaves are dried and ground into powder, so the powder contains the natural fiber. One commercially available brand has 2 grams of fiber, or 8 percent of the daily value, per 2-tablespoon serving, but other brands might have different amounts.

When you shop for Moringa leave supplements, look for brands that list the amount of nutrients on the label. Some products don’t provide that info, so you won’t know how much fiber, protein or other nutrients you’ll get per dose.

Chlorogenic Acid Supports Weight Loss

Moringa leaves contain an antioxidant called chlorogenic acid, which is also one of the active ingredients in green coffee bean extract. Chlorogenic acid could theoretically support weight loss by balancing blood sugar and by acting as a fat burner. When laboratory mice were fed chlorogenic acid, they lost more weight and burned more fat compared to animals that didn’t get the antioxidant, reported Food and Chemical Toxicology in March 2010.

In spite of these potential benefits, keep in mind that Moringa leaves haven’t been tested to see whether they actually lead to weight loss in people. And even if chlorogenic acid turned out to be a very potent weight-loss aid, the amount in Moringa supplements may not be enough to have an impact. Chances are you won’t see it reported on the label. Knowing the amount in the supplement is vital because the chlorogenic acid content found in the leaves varies depending on growing conditions and how they were dried and processed.

Boost Nutrients Without Adding Calories

When you’re trying to lose weight, it’s hard to get all the nutrients your body needs while cutting down on calories. Adding Moringa leave powder to your diet will help fill some of the nutritional gaps -- without adding carbs or fat and with barely any calories. A cup of fresh Moringa leaves only has 13 calories, and you'll get a mere 15 calories from 2 teaspoons of supplemental powder. Both forms also supply about 2 grams of protein.

Moringa leaves are especially good sources of vitamin A. One cup of fresh leaves supplies 32 percent of the daily value, while 2 teaspoons of Moringa leaf powder have half that amount. Vitamin A supports vision, keeps your immune system strong and helps develop healthy red blood cells. A deficiency of vitamin A can interfere with the production of thyroid hormones, which could slow your metabolism and make it harder to drop pounds.

You’ll also get 18 percent of the daily value of vitamin C, 13 percent of vitamin B-6 and 11 percent of manganese from a cup of fresh Moringa leaves. Unfortunately, supplements don’t have to report those nutrients on the label. Even though supplements are made from whole leaves, some of the vitamin C and vitamin B-6 may be lost during processing.

Super Food vs. Health Warnings

In parts of the world where Moringa trees grow, the leaves are consumed just like any other green leafy vegetable. So far, side effects haven't been reported from enjoying fresh leaves. When people participating in studies took powdered whole leaf supplements, they also didn't experience adverse reactions, according to a review of research published in Phytotherapy Research in 2015.

High doses of moringa leaves may be toxic, so never use more than the amount recommended by your doctor. Pregnant women should not eat Moringa or take supplements as it may make uterine muscles contract and cause a miscarriage. If you have any problems with your blood pressure, heart, liver or kidney -- or if you take any prescription medications -- don’t consume Moringa until you talk with your doctor. It may interfere with drugs and worsen existing health problems.

When it comes right down to it, there's no shortcut to weight loss. Supplements alone -- including Moringa leaves -- generally won't make enough difference in your weight loss if you don't also make lifestyle changes. The way to success is to limit the number of calories you consume, eat a well-balanced diet and exercise regularly.

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