By Margaret Landman
Superfoods. We have all become increasingly aware of them. They intrigue and captivate us. Sustainably harvested on the hostile slopes of the Andes, high-altitude peaks of the Himalayas and dense jungles of the Amazon basin. These plant foods hold a remarkable concentration of nutrients, intricately designed as nature intended.
As these nutritionally-dense foods become more readily available on retail shelves, Smoothie- enthusiasts transform their on-the-run breakfast beverages into swamp-green sundaes and rainbow masterpieces. Superfoods might challenge our taste-buds and olfactory sensitivities, but, for many, provide an appealing alternative to swallowing handfuls of encapsulated supplements.
Hidden in Plain Sight
The ‘Gold of the Incas’….the ‘Food of the Warriors’….who can resist the testimonies and legacies of civilisations dating back thousands of years? Enthralled by these treasures from afar and spoilt for choice, it is human nature to so often overlook that which might be in existence right under our nose….right on our doorstep! This is certainly the case of Moringa Oleifera.
Inconspicuously dotted along our very own ‘notorious’ R102 and peeping over the boundary fences and walls of Old Tongaat, it’s affectionately known by the residents as the Drumstick Tree.
An Astonishing Nutrient Profile
The Tree of Life. The Miracle Tree. The mighty Moringa holds its own in the Superfood Hall of Fame. Fast-growing, native to South Asia and found throughout the Tropics, its leaves and seeds have been used as part of traditional and natural medicines for centuries. Packed with protein, calcium, magnesium, beta-carotene, polyphenols, Vitamin C, potassium, iron and fibre (to name but a few) the Ayurvedic system of healing associates it with the cure or prevention of about 300 diseases.
Apart from the better-known and recognisable array of nutrients sited above, Moringa is rich in a variety of health-enhancing compounds, including moringine, moriginine, chlorogenic acid, the potent antioxidants quercetin, kaempferol, rhamnetin and the anti-tumour, anti-cancer phytochemical niaziminin.
Before getting lost in a sea of unpronounceable names, let’s take a look at its worth more simply.
- 9 times the PROTEIN of yoghurt
- 10 times the VITAMIN A of carrots
- 15 times the POTASSIUM of bananas
- 17 times the CALCIUM of milk
- 12 times the VITAMIN C of oranges
Aside from this astonishing nutritional profile, compounds contained in the leaves and seeds also help to:
- Reduce acute and chronic inflammation
- Lower cholesterol levels
- Reduce blood pressure
- Stabilise blood sugar
- Regulate thyroid function (particularly in cases of hyperthyroidism)
- Treat stomach ulcers by ridding the body of H.Pylori
- Protect the liver.
Over and above Moringa’s ability to treat these de-abilitating disorders and areas of dis-ease in the body, the elevated levels of L-Tryptophan assist with sleep whilst its high sulphur content (the key ingredient in the production of collagen and keratin) coupled with mega-doses of vitamin C, E and A, restores skin tissue, reduces wrinkles and promotes hair growth.
It all started at the turn of the century. It is of no surprise that inhabitants of South Asia, arriving on our shores to work in the Sugar Cane plantations of Natal, brought with them handfuls of Moringa seeds. Planting these seeds in and around the migrant settlements, assured the families a source of nutritional and health-enhancing benefits for generations to come.
And lastly, the best part is that Moringa is a readily available and affordable Superfood. In this time of increased taxation and rising inflation, ‘local’ is definitely ‘lekker’!
Lifestyle Health carries a comprehensive range of Moringa products. These include shade-dried leaf powder in 100g and 200g packs, capsules, seed oil for skin and hair, and cosmetic products.