Moringa oleifera is the scientific name for the moringa plant, which is an herb known for its variety of health benefits. Typically, its leaves are ground to a powder and consumed in capsule form. Moringa is perhaps best known for its nutritional profile, which shows promise for combating malnutrition and encouraging bone growth. Research on animals shows moringa could potentially play a role in disease prevention. It has been used in traditional medicine around the world for generations, and there are no known side effects to taking moringa.
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According to an evaluation of moringa published in the "National Journal of Maxillofacial Surgery" in 2011, gram for gram moringa leaf has seven times the amount of vitamin C as oranges, more calcium than milk, more potassium than bananas, and more vitamin A than carrots. It has more iron than spinach; one tablespoon of moringa leaf satisfies 23 percent of a small child's daily iron requirement. It's also a source of other essential minerals, B vitamins, vitamin D and vitamin K. Because of its nutritional potency, moringa leaf is consumed in capsules as multivitamins to supplement a healthy diet. Because it's also a source of protein and essential fats, moringa is thought to be a helpful supplement for people who are malnourished.
In a 2003 study published in the "Journal of Ethnopharmacology," researchers fed moringa to rabbits for four months and found it lowered their levels of "bad" cholesterol (LDL and VLDL), phospholipids and triglycerides. The rabbits' ratio of bad to good cholesterol improved, suggesting moringa could have a beneficial regulatory effect on cholesterol in people. Scientists suggest more study is warranted to determine whether moringa plays a role in improving cholesterol levels.
A study published in 2007 in the "Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition" found that moringa lowered glucose levels in the blood of rats with Type 2 diabetes. Another study, published in the "Journal of Diabetes," found similar results and attributed the lowered glucose levels to quercetin and kaempferol -- two phytoconstituents the scientists extracted from moringa pods. After treating rats that had Type 2 diabetes with their extracts from moringa pods, their progression of diabetes slowed. Not only did it lower glucose levels in the rats, but it also reduced oxidation and improved insulin and protein levels.
Could Increase Bone Mass
Ayurveda, the traditional Hindu system of medicine, has long used moringa to speed up the healing of bone fractures by encouraging bone growth. A 2011 study published in the "National Journal of Maxillofacial Surgery" found that jaw fracture patients given moringa daily had increases in calcium and phosphorus levels as compared to the placebo group. Although there was not a huge difference between the moringa and placebo groups, and moringa did not necessarily speed up regrowth of the bone, the results of the study still point to the potency of calcium and other minerals present in moringa. While it may not necessarily heal bone fractures, it could potentially increase bone mass to prevent osteoporosis and encourage growth in children.