Q: What is moringa, and does it have major health benefits?
A: Like many of the superfoods that take a turn in the spotlight (acai! matcha!), you may have heard that moringa is about to cure everything that ails you.
After all, the plant is often referred to as “the miracle tree.” But while it does have a pretty impressive nutrient profile, adding it to your smoothies won’t magically guarantee good health. Here’s what you need to know.
What is moringa?
The moringa tree is native to South Asia and grows crazy fast in tough climate conditions. It produces “drumstick” pods, which are seeds that can be eaten like peas or pressed into oil. Its small, round leaves can also be eaten fresh, or dried and powdered. Most people in the U.S. ingest the leaves as a powder added to smoothies.
Practitioners of Ayurveda, India’s ancient system of medicine, believe the plant can help to prevent or alleviate symptoms in 300 diseases, which brings us to …
What are moringa’s actual benefits?
Western medicine definitely hasn’t come close to verifying moringa’s ability to prevent all those diseases (there are, in fact, very few top-notch clinical studies on the plant), but moringa does have a lot going for it nutritionally. It delivers high doses of iron, vitamin C, potassium, and calcium. Some studies have shown it may fight inflammation and it also contains lots of powerful antioxidants. Research has also shown it may reduce some risk factors for diabetes and heart disease, and it has many other promising potential medicinal uses.
Moringa is certainly good for you, but it’s no magic bullet and isn’t easy to find. If you want to buy a green powder that lists it as an ingredient and boost your smoothie with it, go for it. But if you’re eating lots of dark, leafy greens and antioxidant-rich berries, you’ll also be fine without it. Remember that supplementing your diet with the most nutrient-rich foods is just one small component of a healthy, balanced lifestyle.