Sometimes referred to as the miracle tree, the Morgina tree grows in India, the Middle East, Africa and South America, (Ref 1, Introduction) and is known for its powerful medicinal and nutritional properties. (Ref 3) Both the edible leaves of the tree and the seed-containing pods are packed full of nutrients and health benefits. (Ref 1, Leaves, Fruits)
Heart Healthy Oils
Moringa seeds produce an abundant amount of oil that is high in heart healthy monounsaturated fats. Specifically, the oil is a good source of oleic acid, (Ref 2) which has been linked to lower LDL cholesterol levels and higher HDL cholesterol levels. (Ref 9) The oil from the seeds, called ben oil, (Ref 2, More Impressive than Olive Oil) contains 70 percent oleic acid, while many other cooking oils contain only 40 percent. (Ref 1, Industrial uses)
Vitamins and Minerals
One pod from a Moringa tree contains 12 to 35 seeds (Ref 1, Fruits) and one cup of pods provides 37 calories, 2 grams of protein, 8.5 grams of carbohydrate, 3 grams of fiber, and less than 1 gram of fat. (Ref 4) One cup also contains 30 milligrams of calcium, 460 milligrams of potassium, 141 milligrams of Vitamin C, and 74 International Units of Vitamin A. (Ref 4) That's 3 percent of the daily value for calcium, 13 percent daily value for potassium, and 235 percent daily value for Vitamin C. (Ref 10) Before Moringa seeds are eaten, they must be boiled and the bitter hull should be removed.
There are several properties of the Moringa tree that are of significant value to the developing countries where the trees grow. One of these properties is the role the tree plays in water purification. When oil is extracted from the seeds, a high protein press cakes left behind. The proteins in the press cake can be used to remove sediments and purify drinking water. ( Ref 1, water purification) Considering that clean water is a rare commodity in some of the regions where Moringa trees grow, the Moringa seeds can potentially be a life saving product.
According to a 2013 article published in Food Science and Nutrition, the Moringa tree is one of the most nutrient-rich plants on earth. (Ref 7, Introduction) Both the leaves and the seeds contain important nutrients that have the potential to significantly improve health and combat malnutrition. The leaves have been referred to as a natural multivitamin because they contain large amounts of important vitamins and minerals along with all of the essential amino acids. (Ref 5, pg 10-15) Moringa grows in tropical and hot, dry climates, and is resistant to drought, making it even more valuable to regions where malnutrition is prevalent. (Ref 7, Introduction)