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Moringa: How and Why to Use this Superfood

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    Moringa is a super-food that has been utilized for thousands of years.  Its medicinal and therapeutic value has recently gained notice, and it is now available for supplementation in capsule form and an addition to many blends of teas.  Its powerful seed oil and the versatility of its dried leaf powder continues to earn it a place among other super-greens like kale and chlorella, but it also comes with an amazing list of benefits beyond its nutritional value.

What is Moringa?

Moringa oleifera is a genus of deciduous trees also known as the “drumstick tree,” “horseradish tree,” and “benzolive tree” in the Moringaceae family. The genus has thirteen species of trees which produce seed pods (called “drumsticks”), white flowers, and is cultivated for its fruit, leaves, and oil.  The origin of the name Moringa is derived from “murungai,” which is a word in the Indian language of Tamil that means “twisted pod.”

Moringa is native to India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan in the sub-Himalayan regions. The largest cultivator of Moringa is India, and it is grown for food in West Africa, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Ghana.  It is available in local produce markets in South and Southeast Asia and Africa.   [1, 2]

Moringa can be used medicinally and is also commonly eaten in soups and salads.  The leaves can be sun-dried or oven-dried and ground into a fine powder that is used to enhance breads, cereals, or added to any food for extra sustenance.  Moringa is a great nutritional food that has kept many regions from experiencing malnutrition.   [2]

Moringa seed oil content is very high, and the oil is known as “Ben oil,” “Behen oil,” and “benzoil.”  It is often substituted for olive oil in the diet but is also used in cosmetics and non-food oil applications, such as biodiesel and commercial machine lubricant.   [3]

What is the history of Moringa?

Moringa gained notoriety in 150 B.C. when it was included in historical records from ancient royalty who ate the leaves and fruit to gain mental clarity and improve their skin.  It is presumed to have spread West from India into Greece and Italy.

  • India: The ancient Maurian warriors of India drank an elixir of Moringa leaf extract for energy and pain relief.  These warriors were credited with defeating Alexander the Great.  In the first century A.D., documents that were written explained that the cultivation of Moringa had been practiced for thousands of years, and Indians have been using it as a food source for over 5,000 years.   [4]
  • Africa: In Nigeria, Moringa is known as “zogeli,” “ewe ile,” and “dogalla.”   [2]

Common varieties include:

  • Moringa arborea
    • Grown in Kenya
  • Moringa ovalifolia
  • Moringa drouhardii
    • Grown in Southwestern Madagascar
  • Moringa longituba
  • Moringa borziana
  • Moringa rivae
  • Moringa hidebrandtii
  • Moringa corcanensis
  • Moringa stenopetala
  • Moringa ruspoliana
  • Moringa pygmaea
  • Moringa peregrine    [5]

What is Moringa made of?

Moringa’s active constituents include vitamins, polyphenols, alkaloids, tannins, glucosinolates, saponins, isothiocyonates, gallic acid, ellagic acid, chlorogenic acid, ferulic acid, quercetin, kaempferol, and vanillin.    [6, 7]

The leaves contain:

  • 9-octadecenoic acid: 89%
  • 14-methyl-8-hexadecenal: 11%
  • L-(+)-ascorbic acid-2,6-dihexadecanoate: 66%
  • 4-hydroxyl-4-methyl-2-pentanone: 0%
  • Phytol: 24%
  • 3-ehtyl-2, 4-dimethyl-pentane: 14%
  • Octadecamethyl-cyclononasiloxane: 1.23%
  • 3, 4-epoxy-ethanone: 78%
  • 1, 2-benzene dicarboxylic acid: 46%
  • N-(-1-mehtylethyllidene)-benzene ethanamine: 54%
  • 3-5-bis (1, 1-dimethylethyl)-phenol: 55%
  • 4, 8, 12, 16-tetramethylheptadecan-4-olid: 77%
  • 1-hexadecanol: 23%
  • 1, 2, 3-propanetriyl ester-9 octadecenoic acid: 23%
  • 3, 7, 11, 15-tetramethyl-2 hexadecene-1-ol: 17%    [8]
  • Phenol: Gallic acid
  • Flavonoid: Quercetin  [7]
  • Niaziminin [9]

The seeds contain:

  • Oleic acid: 84%
  • 9-octadecenoic acid: 88%
  • L-(+) -ascorbic acid- 2, 6-dihexadecanoate: 80%
  • Methyl ester-hexadecanoic acid: 31%
  • 9-octadecenamide: 78%   [8]

The leaves and bark of the root contain:

  • Alkaloid: Moringinine (also known as benzylamine)    [9]

The root contains:

  • Aurantiamide acetate [9]

How is Moringa prepared?

The Moringa plant can sprout and grow without irrigation but is often irrigated in commercial cultivation.  The seeds are sown during the wet season.  The fruits ripen three months after the flowers appear, and the pods (“drumsticks”) dry when they are mature.  Each pod contains up to 35 seeds.  The varieties of Moringa that flower can produce pods within the first six months, whereas other varieties may not produce pods for over a year.

The oil from Moringa seeds is commercially extracted primarily by solvent extraction because cold press extraction does not produce the high yield that is accomplished with n-hexane solvent extraction.  Traditionally, the oil was extracted after boiling the seeds in water and collecting the oil that rises to the top of the water.

The fatty acid composition of the oil is not degenerated through the solvent extraction method.  Moringa oil is structurally similar to other high-oleic oils and contains a high ratio of monounsaturated to saturated fatty acids (MUFA/SFA).  This ratio is found in olive oil.   [3]

Powdered Moringa is prepared by drying and grinding the leaves which produces a fine, green powder.

What are the benefits of Moringa?

Moringa is a source of nutrition

The leaves of Moringa provide 20-30% protein in its dry weight.  Per 100 grams, raw Moringa leaf provides the following daily values of vitamins and minerals:  Vitamin A (47%), Vitamin B1 (22%), Vitamin B2 (55%), Vitamin B3 (15%), Vitamin B5 (3%), Vitamin B6 (92%), Vitamin B9 (10%), Vitamin C (62%), Calcium (19%), Iron (31%), Magnesium (41%), Manganese (17%), Phosphorous (16%), Potassium (7%), Sodium (1%), Zinc (6%), and water (78.66 g).   [1]

Safety and Side Effects of Moringa

Moringa may interact with some medications, herbs, supplements, and medical conditions. Please speak with your doctor before beginning supplementation if you are taking any medications, herbs, or supplements.  [10]


  1. “Moringa Oleifera.” Wikipedia, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moringa_oleifera.
  2. Ademiluyi, Adedayo O., et al. “Drying Alters the Phenolic Constituents, Antioxidant Properties, α‐Amylase, and α‐Glucosidase Inhibitory Properties of Moringa (Moringa Oleifera) Leaf.” Food Science & Nutrition, vol. 6, no. 8, 10 Oct. 2018, doi:https://doi.org/10.1002/fsn3.770.
  3. Leone, Alessandro et al. “Moringa oleifera Seeds and Oil: Characteristics and Uses for Human Health.” International journal of molecular sciencesvol. 17,12 2141. 20 Dec. 2016, doi:10.3390/ijms17122141
  4. BK, Sujatha. “Moringa Oleifera – Nature's Gold.” Imperial Journal of Interdisciplinary Research, vol. 3, no. 5, Jan. 2017, p. 1175., www.researchgate.net/publication/317930958_Moringa_Oleifera_-_Nature's_Gold.
  5. Paikra, Birendra Kumar, et al. “Phytochemistry and Pharmacology of Moringa Oleifera Lam.” Journal of Pharnacopuncture, www.journal.ac/sub/view/222.
  6. Vergara-Jimenez, Marcela et al. “Bioactive Components in Moringa Oleifera Leaves Protect against Chronic Disease.” Antioxidants (Basel, Switzerland)vol. 6,4 91. 16 Nov. 2017, doi:10.3390/antiox6040091
  7. Singh, BN, et al. “Oxidative DNA Damage Protective Activity, Antioxidant and Anti-Quorum Sensing Potentials of Moringa Oleifera.” Food Chem Toxicol., vol. 47, no. 6, June 2009, doi:10.1016/j.fct.2009.01.034.
  8. Aja, P.M., et al. “Chemical Constituents of Moringa Oleifera Leaves and Seeds from Abakaliki, Nigeria.” American Journal of Phytomedicine and Clinical Therapeutics, www.imedpub.com/articles/chemical-constituents-of-moringa-oleiferaleaves-and-seeds-from-abakaliki-nigeria.pdf.
  9. Mbikay, Majambu. “Therapeutic Potential of Moringa oleifera Leaves in Chronic Hyperglycemia and Dyslipidemia: A Review.” Frontiers in pharmacologyvol. 3 24. 1 Mar. 2012, doi:10.3389/fphar.2012.00024
  10. “Moringa.” Foods, Herbs, & Supplements. https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com/databases/food,-herbs-supplements/professional.aspx?productid=1242#adverseEvents


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