Veganism is more than a diet, it requires a complete lifestyle change. Providing you pay attention to the many nutrients required and aim for a balanced diet, you are likely to have more energy, have less allergy tendencies and will start to feel better. It is however, all too easy to become deficient of vital nutrients. There is an abundance of vegan-style junk foods readily available but these are not necessarily healthy. Once you fully comprehend the importance of all the vitamins and minerals, you’ll understand which foods must be consumed to ensure that your diet is healthy. If not, you could become deficient in some nutrients leading to ill health. If you are prepared to experiment and vary taste sensations, you’ll naturally improve your diet. However, it’s worth noting that some vitamins and minerals are not so easy to include on a daily basis.
As such, it’s worth taking time to explore some of the superfoods on the market. We often hear about the amazing health benefits but, there is one superfood you may not have heard about. Grown in the Himalayas, the Moringa tree (Moringa Oleifera) is also cultivated in Central and Southern America as well as in Africa. It has a multitude of nicknames, including the un-vegan like name – drumstick tree for one. Other nicknames include, the miracle tree, mother’s best friend and the elixir of life because it has substantial healing properties. Moringa is also known as the ‘never die’ tree due to its ability to be able to survive harsh environments.
Many people are a little suspicious of superfoods because there is often so much hype in the media and it can be difficult to fathom if these foods are as healthy as reported. But, the beneficial qualities of Moringa are hard to ignore, especially as the leaves contain 90 different types of nutrients. It has more potassium than can be found in bananas. It has 4 times more vitamin A than would be found in carrots and 50 times higher levels of vitamin B than you could gain by eating peanuts. Moringa also contains high levels of magnesium as well as zinc, selenium, iodine, beta-carotene, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin K, and dietary fibre.
Moringa may be new to you but it has been used in various civilizations for centuries. The ancient Egyptians even used moringa oil in their tombs. It has such concentrated levels of vitamin A that nowadays, it is prescribed to thousands of children in third world countries who are gravely deficient of this vitamin. This is important as a deficiency of vitamin A is linked to low immune function. For vegans, it becomes an easy to use, versatile food supplement. As an example, use it as a stable natural cooking oil with its odourless but mild nutty flavour, or use it in place of your traditional vegetable cooking oils. As it contains high levels of oleic acids (these are mono-unsaturated fatty acids) the oil can be used for deep frying, for sautéing or, even, as a salad dressing.
The vegan diet can certainly be enriched by using Moringa. Once you understand the complexities of the required vitamins and minerals, and how to obtain them, you will start to view your food as fuel. This ensures your body remains healthy. By using Moringa a little each day, you’ll soon reap all the benefits. It’s true to say that few (if any) plant substances offer as much versatility as does the Moringa tree. There has been much research into the nutrients and also, the beneficial properties in respect of health.
Moringa provides proteins which are vital within the body as they act as hormones, enzymes and, antibodies, maintaining fluid balance. They also work to balance acidity and alkalinity. Proteins transport oxygen, vitamins and minerals to the required cells throughout while structural proteins are required for bone formation, for teeth health, hair, also affecting the outer layer of your skin. Proteins also help with blood vessels and other tissues in the body. Enzymes create chemical reactions, with hormones being the messenger vehicle transporting to key tissues or organs. They certainly have important regulatory functions.
As a superfood, Moringa is pretty good. Leaves can be eaten raw, or, they can be easily added to pastas, soups or used as a traditional vegetable. When cooked, it resembles spinach. You can even make a nourishing herbal tea. For ease, most people consume the dried version as this can be sprinkled directly into casseroles, curries or vegetable stews. It can also be used in porridge or smoothies too. The variations are endless. Much of the Moringa tree can be used as each part contains beneficial properties. The seeds are used to purify water in some parts of the world and the drumsticks (seed pods) are used in curries in Southern Asia. The flowers may be used for herbal teas and the roots, once shredded may be used as a condiment – think of horseradish sauce. Even the bark can be used.
Moringa has been reported to help combat diabetes. But it can also improve the function of the immune system and, even help to detoxify the body. This is especially useful if you have been eating unhealthily previously and wish to improve this aspect of your life. As we get older, we naturally find that our endurance and energy levels reduce. It is important that a highly nutritious diet becomes the norm when cutting out all meat, fish and dairy produce. Because Moringa has such high levels of vitamin A and C, along with iron, this helps to improve haemoglobin content. It aids blood distributing oxygen to the muscles and increases your metabolism. This helps to burn up unwanted fat levels within the body.
In essence, Moringa works with your body as this increased energy production isn’t because of sugar. Therefore, your energy levels are sustained for longer. Other benefits include stabilised blood pressure and an improvement to skin health. There may also be a decrease experienced in inflammatory arthritic conditions too.
What’s not to like about this incredible superfood?
Nutrients and health go hand in hand. It is now much easier to top up any nutrients that may have been lacking previously. There has been much research into the health benefits of Moringa including:
· Helping to balance cholesterol levels
· Helping to balance sugar levels
· Anti-bacterial properties
· Protecting and stimulating the structure of the cells
· Boosting nutrition levels and promoting inner well-being.
· Stimulating the immune system
· Protecting the liver and kidneys
· Increasing breast milk for those women who are lactating
· Purifies water etc.
Let’s look a little more closely at some of the other nutritional aspects which can be gained through using Moringa:
In the main, people use the powdered leaves of Moringa and there are 46 different types of antioxidants within. Antioxidants are important because they help to counteract the impact that free radicals have on the body. Antioxidants help to protect you from diseases such as cancer or even those degenerative diseases such as cystic fibrosis. By having just one serving of moringa, you will have taken 22% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C.
Calcium and Magnesium
These are important trace minerals which work in harmony with each other. We know that calcium is required in the body to keep bones strong but, often people do not realise that it is essential to also consume magnesium so that the body can absorb calcium. One serving of moringa equates to 61% of the daily allowance required for magnesium. One serving provides 125% of the daily allowance for calcium. Moringa is an effective way of protecting you from bone conditions such as osteoporosis.
There are 18 amino acids found within the leaves of the Moringa tree. 8 of which are known as essential amino acids and this is important, because it provides complete protein. This is rare in plants. Research indicates that the protein rivals those found in meat sources and so, is a very important source of protein for vegans. Think of amino acids as the building blocks within your body. Your body needs essential and non-essential amino acids and your body can make sufficient levels of non-essential amino acids providing you have enough oxygen, carbon, nitrogen and hydrogen available. But, your body is not able to produce the essential amino acids required. So, within Moringa, you will naturally find isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, valine, alanine, arginine, aspartic acid and cysteine.
Moringa also has fabulous anti-inflammatory properties. It has long been taken to help digestive complaints. It can help to reduce constipation and to ease symptoms of diarrhoea. It will also aid the removal of heavy metal toxins which are harmful to your body. You will also find that because Moringa acts as a nutritional supplement, it improves your ability to digest all the nutrients from your food. This will also improve your health.
Mood and Brain Health
Moringa is a rich source of the amino acid tryptophan and this improves neurotransmitter functions. Simply, this means that serotonin is improved which is commonly known as the ‘feel good’ hormone. It contains vital compounds which aid thyroid health and as such, will help to combat the negative aspect of this health condition. Symptoms can be quite severe and include depression, mood swings, fatigue or insomnia.
Diabetes is a huge problem in the Western world and research indicates that Moringa contains chlorogenic acid. This has been proven to help control fluctuating blood sugar levels. Simply, this enables the cells to take or release glucose providing a more stable level of blood sugar. Moringa also has compounds – isothiocyanates which can even help to protect against the onset of diabetes.
When we eat, we fuel our bodies so to be able to function well but the benefits of Moringa also manifest externally too. Everyone would like radiant looking, healthy skin and good news, Moringa also helps with anti-ageing. It combats wrinkles and facial lines due to the trace minerals, antioxidants and nutrients which fight the free radicals that damage skin. While it is fine to make your own skincare creams or lotions using Moringa, you will find that more and more cosmetic companies are now utilising the healing properties in their creams and lotions. As a vegan, always check the labels before purchasing as natural ingredients will not always equate to cruelty-free. Whether applying topically or simply through consuming this superfood, your health will improve both internally and externally.
How to take Moringa
If you would like to give this wonderful superfood a try, start slowly. You can gradually increase as necessary. Note that there are no recommended dosage guidelines as yet. Think of Moringa as a supplement and one half-teaspoon of dried Moringa should be taken each day for 3 to 5 days. It then can then be increased slowly to one teaspoonful over a 14-day period. You may find this sufficient. Remember, that your body is unique and so, consumption levels are going to affect people differently. Although there are very few contra-indications to worry about, too much could lead to an upset stomach. You could try taking it on alternate days instead of daily, try it and see how you feel.
Do make sure that you purchase a high-quality brand of Moringa. Some versions may not be free from chemical additives. There is little point trying to gain all of the many benefits of this superfood only to find that there are harmful additives within. Do a little research and source from reliable suppliers. As you become used to adding Moringa to your food, try to visualise the many health benefits. After all, you are adding many hard to obtain nutrients quite naturally into your diet. Each time you consume your daily portion, you nourish your brain and eyes and increase your metabolism. You also enhance and promote the structure of the cells within your body and, normalise the function of your liver and kidneys. Moringa is certainly a superfood worth considering.