Famously called “the miracle tree” thanks to its exceptional nutritional content and therapeutic potential, moringa more than lives up to its name. Moringa offers numerous health benefits, including protecting against free radicals and promoting a strong immune system in all stages of life. Among other things, moringa supports the heart, brain, and liver, and can even give your sex drive a boost.
You might see it sold as a “superfood” in grocery and health food stores, but moringa is no passing fad. For centuries, people have consumed various parts of the moringa tree for health, energy, and other therapeutic qualities.
Moringa contains an abundance of vitamins and minerals, but, according to scientists, many of moringa’s benefits come from its phytochemicals, which include isothiocyanates, chlorogenic acid, and flavonoids like quercetin.
What Is Moringa?
Did you know that moringa is sometimes called the “tree of life”?
More than a dozen different moringa plant species exist around the world, but the most-used as a food source and supplement is Moringa oleifera. Found throughout sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia, this species has many names, including the Ben oil tree, drumstick tree, horseradish tree, and the “tree of life.” It has green, lace-like leaves that droop outward, creating shade and beauty.
You can consume every part of the moringa tree, including the roots, bark, flowers, pods, seeds, and leaves. Traditional medicine practitioners have used moringa as a staple for centuries.
You will often find it sold as a bright green powder that you can add to smoothies or juice. Alternatively, you can purchase herbal extracts that provide moringa’s nutrients in highly concentrated servings.
Moringa Benefits & Uses
A number of studies suggest that moringa offers several potential benefits for human health, and many preliminary studies have provided an exciting glimpse into what may lie ahead.
Moringa not only boosts your energy and sex drive, it may also help you maintain a normal weight.
Not only can this unique plant boost your energy levels and sex drive, but it also promotes normal blood glucose levels, which, in turn, helps maintain a healthy weight.
Some experts have suggested that, due to its higher protein levels and abundant supply of vitamins and minerals, moringa could be used to combat malnutrition — and, in some areas of the world, it already is.
Moringa seeds contain “Ben oil” which people use for cooking, as well as for commercial purposes such as biodiesel, cosmetics, and mechanical lubrication.
In this article, we will focus on the human health benefits of moringa. Read on to learn more.
The moringa tree’s exceptionally high vitamin and nutrient content replenishes you at a cellular level. In a Discovery Channel documentary on moringa, it was stated that some people even begin to crave moringa for its invigorating properties.
“You keep on eating and eating and you can feel your body is more energetic, more healthy,” says Vicky Domingo, a local moringa farmer in Hawaii who was featured in the film. “You can see the difference. You’re not drooping. You keep on [going], so active!” The most likely reason for its health-giving, energy-boosting properties lies in the tree’s nutritional benefits.
Possesses Exceptional Nutritional Value
The moringa plant is a powerhouse of natural nutrition. According to one scientific study, “there are over 46 antioxidants … and 36 anti-inflammatory … compounds all naturally occurring in the moringa plant.”
Did you know moringa contains 46 different antioxidants?
Rich in vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, moringa has a higher nutritional value than most other fruits and vegetables. Gram for gram, moringa contains 15 times more potassium than bananas, four times more vitamin A and 2.5 times more beta-carotene than carrots, and seven times as much vitamin C as oranges.
Stimulates Sex Drive & Fertility
Moringa may be able to improve your sex life! In one animal study, moringa promoted normal testosterone levels and sperm production in overstressed male rats. Because of its strong nutritional content, moringa helps circulation and blood flow — both of which play an essential role in sexual arousal. More research is needed to see how it directly affects human sex drive.
Acts as a Strong Antioxidant
As mentioned above, moringa leaf contains many antioxidants, which can deter free radicals, which are molecules that damage your cells. Through these antioxidants, moringa gives your immune system a boost and lowers oxidative stress.
Pro tip: Try moringa to protect your cells against free radicals!
Moringa also contains chlorogenic acid, commonly found in coffee beans. Chlorogenic acid is an antioxidant that, among other things, promotes normal, healthy blood sugar levels.
Promotes Normal Blood Sugar
Several scientific studies have shown that the extract from moringa seeds can promote normal blood sugar levels in laboratory animals. However, one small human trial found no impact of moringa on blood sugar levels, though it did promote healthy blood pressure.
Supports Heart Health
Moringa may help keep your heart healthy and happy. Moringa contains high levels of bioavailable iron, which supports your body’s ability to make hemoglobin.[10, 13] Hemoglobin increases the amount of oxygen your blood can carry to oxygenate your tissue — making you feel more alert and awake.
This miracle tree promotes normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels!
Extracts from moringa leaves have also been shown to promote normal blood pressure in multiple animal studies,[13, 14] and, in a separate study, have been shown to support normal cholesterol. This was equally true for rats that had been placed on a high-fat diet and those on a healthy diet.
Protects the Liver
Animal studies have shown that moringa oil supports the liver and helps maintain normal enzyme levels.
Boosts Mood & Memory
If you have the blues, moringa may lift your spirits. Known to promote a stable and uplifted mood without side effects, moringa leaf may be just the supplement for you.
Not only that, according to animal studies, moringa may support brain health and memory as you grow older. The antioxidants in moringa help protect brain cells against oxidative stress, which causes cell death, DNA damage, and other physiological issues — all of which occur more frequently with age.
Promotes Wound Healing
Did you know the moringa tree helps blood to clot normally?
The leaves, roots, bark, and seeds of the moringa tree have coagulant properties that help blood to clot normally. As an added bonus, extracts from moringa bark, stem, seeds, and leaves deter harmful organisms, including those known to affect people.[1, 2]
Animal studies have found that moringa may promote a healthy, intact stomach lining with a normal stomach acid balance.
Reduces Redness & Swelling
In multiple animal studies, moringa reduced redness, swelling, and irritation in the colon, joints, abdomen, and throughout the body.[1, 5, 20, 21] Some clinical trials on humans have also found similar results.
May Promote Normal Weight
Daily reminder: More fiber equals a faster metabolism.
Moringa’s high-fiber content could promote a faster metabolism while keeping you full in between meals, according to some animal studies. When rats fed a high-fat diet were given moringa, it promoted normal weight, blood cholesterol, insulin, and leptin — the “fullness hormone.” Because of these purported benefits, people looking to keep a normal weight sometimes add moringa to their daily regimen.
Moringa Nutrition Facts
The leaves of the moringa plant are high in many essential vitamins and minerals, not to mention several antioxidant compounds, like quercetin and chlorogenic acid, as mentioned above. Moringa has a strong, earthy, spinach-like flavor.
In one cup of chopped fresh leaves (equal to 21 grams), you will find the following, and more:
- 2 grams protein
- 400 mg fiber
- 9 mg magnesium
- 10.9 mg vitamin C
- 39 mg calcium
- 1 mg iron
- 252 µg vitamin B-6
- 79 µg vitamin A
- 8 µg folate (vitamin B-9)
How to Use Moringa
You can use moringa in several forms: as a powder, fresh or dried leaf, a liquid extract, or a cold-pressed oil. Here are some popular ways to consume it:
- Moringa tea: Steep either fresh or dried leaves of the moringa plant in hot water; add a teaspoon of raw honey and a wedge of fresh lemon for a soothing cup of tea.
- Moringa powder: Because of the long trade routes of ancient times, people would dry moringa leaves and pulverize them into a fine powder. This form is still popular today, though it is not necessarily the best. You can add the powder to smoothies, soup, or recipes.
- Moringa capsules: Many people take encapsulated moringa to avoid the strong flavor. Take capsules of moringa extract daily with a full glass of water.
- Moringa extracts: Moringa extracts contain a highly concentrated form of the herb in an alcohol or vegetable glycerin base. Glycerin has many benefits over alcohol: it is gentler on your system, has a low glycemic index, and encapsulates the compounds without changing their bioactive properties.
Moringa Side Effects & Precautions
The fruit, seeds, leaves, and oil of the moringa tree have been consumed for thousands of years with few if any reported side effects.
In the modern era, you are most likely to consume moringa in the form of a processed powder or supplement. Make sure you read the ingredient labels carefully and avoid products with unwanted fillers or additives.
Although moringa naturally packs in more nutrients per gram than most other plants, it contains certain antinutrients (particularly in the roots), including tannins and oxalic acid, which may block absorption of other nutrients. On the other hand, researchers believe these “antinutrients” may also be responsible for some of its incredible therapeutical potential.
Moringa has also been shown to suppress fertility in women, and possibly induce miscarriage through uterine contractions. It’s best to avoid this supplement if you are pregnant. Check with your healthcare provider before taking a moringa supplement if you are breastfeeding.
Points to Remember
People have dubbed Moringa oleifera “the miracle tree” and the “tree of life” because of its exceptional nutritional value and incredible versatility in supporting head-to-toe health. The Western world is just catching up to what traditional medicine practitioners and ordinary citizens around the world have known about this plant for centuries.
Modern studies show that moringa has a range of potential benefits including promoting normal cholesterol levels, supporting heart and liver health, encouraging a happy mood and a strong memory, and even boosting your sex drive.
Benefits of Moringa: A Nutritional Powerhouse
Video Length: 30 minutes
Have you tried moringa? In which form? Share your story in the comments below!
- Kou X, et al. Nutraceutical or pharmacological potential of Moringa oleifera Lam. Nutrients. 2018 Mar;10(3):343.
- Anwar F, et al. Moringa oleifera: a food plant with multiple medicinal uses. Phytother Res. 2007;21(1):17-25.
- Thurber MD, Fahey JW. Adoption of Moringa oleifera to combat under-nutrition viewed through the lens of the “diffusion of innovations” theory. Ecol Food Nutr. 2009 May 1;48(3):212–225.
- Leone A, et al. Moringa oleifera seeds and oil: characteristics and uses for human health. Int J Mol Sci. 2016;17(12):2141.
- Minaiyan M, et al. Anti-inflammatory effect of Moringa oleifera Lam seeds on acetic acid-induced acute colitis in rats. Avicenna J Phytomed. 2014;4(2):127-136.
- Pfaff S. Superfoods? Overview of moringa and matcha. Wellness Foods Europe. Nov 2014:9-15.
- Prabsattroo T, et al. Moringa oleifera extract enhances sexual performance in stressed rats. J Zhejiang Univ Sci B. 2015;16(3):179-190.
- Singh BN, et al. Oxidative DNA damage protective activity, antioxidant and anti-quorum sensing potentials of Moringa oleifera. Food Chem Toxicol. 2009;47(6):1109-1116.
- Meng S, et al. Roles of chlorogenic acid on regulating glucose and lipids metabolism: a review. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013; 2013: 801457.
- Razis A, et al. Health benefits of Moringa oleifera. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2014;15 (20):8571-8576.
- Taweerutchana R, et al. Effect of Moringa oleifera leaf capsules on glycemic control in therapy-naïve type 2 diabetes patients: a randomized placebo controlled study. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2017; 2017: 6581390.
- Vergara-Jimenez M, et al. Bioactive components in Moringa oleifera leaves protect against chronic disease. Antioxidants (Basel). 2017;6(4):91.
- Saini RK, et al. Phytochemicals of Moringa oleifera: a review of their nutritional, therapeutic and industrial significance. 3 Biotech. 2016 Dec; 6(2):203.
- Randriamboavonjy JI, et al. Cardiac protective effects of Moringa oleifera seeds in spontaneous hypertensive rats. Am J Hypertens. 2016;29(7):873-881.
- Ghasi S, et al. Hypocholesterolemic effects of crude extract of leaf of Moringa oleifera Lam in high-fat diet fed wistar rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 2000;69(1):21-25.
- Al-Said MS, et al. Edible oils for liver protection: hepatoprotective potentiality of Moringa oleifera seed oil against chemical-induced hepatitis in rats. J Food Sci. 2012;77(7):124-130.
- Kaur G, et al. Evaluation of the antidepressant activity of Moringa oleifera alone and in combination with fluoxetine. J Ayurveda Integr Med. 2015 Oct-Dec;6(4):273–279.
- Sutalangka C, et al. Moringa oleifera mitigates memory impairment and neurodegeneration in animal model of age-related dementia. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2013;2013:695936.
- Satish A, et al. Moringa oleifera Lam: protease activity against blood coagulation cascade. Pharmacognosy Res. 2012;4(1):44-49.
- Debnath S, et al. Moringa oleifera induced potentiation of serotonin release by 5-HT(3) receptors in experimental ulcer model. Phytomedicine. 2011;18(2-3):91-95.
- Mahajan SG, Mehta AA. Immunosuppressive activity of ethanolic extract of seeds of Moringa oleifera Lam. in experimental immune inflammation. J Ethnopharmacol. 2010 Jul 6;130(1):183-186.
- Waterman C, et al. Isothiocyanate-rich Moringa oleifera extract reduces weight gain, insulin resistance and hepatic gluconeogenesis in mice. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2015; 59(6):1013-1024.
- National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Nutrient Data Laboratory. April 2018. Accessed February 12, 2019.
- Teixeira EM, et al. Chemical characteristics and fractionation of proteins from Moringa oleifera Lam. leaves. Food Chem. 2014 Mar 15;147:51-4.
- Igwilo IO, et al. Anti-nutritional factors in the roots of a local cultivar of Moringa oleifera (Lam). Pak J Biol Sci. 2014 Jan 1;17(1):114-117.