Moringa: Traditional Herbal Medicine With The potential to Improve Body Nutrition
Updated: May 24, 2020
Moringa oleifera commonly known as moringa, drumstick tree (from the long, slender, triangular seed-pods), horseradish tree (from the taste of the roots, which resembles horseradish), and ben oil tree or benzolive tree (from the oil which is derived from the seeds). It is widely cultivated for its young seed pods and leaves used as vegetables and for traditional herbal medicine. It is also used for water purification.
Moringa is a fast-growing, deciduous tree which is grown in home gardens and as living fences in South Asia and Southeast Asia, where it is commonly sold in local markets. In the Philippines and Indonesia, it is commonly grown for its leaves which are used as food. Moringa is also actively cultivated by the World Vegetable Center in Taiwan, a center for vegetable research. India is the largest producer of moringa, with an annual production of 1.2 million tonnes of fruits from an area of 380 km².
Many parts of moringa are edible, with regional uses:
Immature seed pods called "drumsticks": They are prepared by parboiling, and cooked in a curry until soft. The seed pods/fruits, even when cooked by boiling, remain particularly high in vitamin C (which may be degraded variably by cooking) and are also a good source of dietary fiber, potassium, magnesium, and manganese.
Leaves: The leaves are the most nutritious part of the plant, being a significant source of B vitamins, vitamin C, provitamin A as beta-carotene, vitamin K, manganese, and protein. When compared with common foods particularly high in certain nutrients per 100 g fresh weight, cooked moringa leaves are considerable sources of these same nutrients. The leaves are cooked and used like spinach, and are commonly dried and crushed into a powder used in soups and sauces.
Mature seeds: The seeds, sometimes removed from more mature pods and eaten like peas or roasted like nuts, contain high levels of vitamin C and moderate amounts of B vitamins and dietary minerals.
Oil pressed from seeds: Mature seeds yield 38–40% edible oil called ben oil from its high concentration of behenic acid. The refined oil is clear and odorless, and resists rancidity. The seed cake remaining after oil extraction may be used as a fertilizer or as a flocculent to purify water. Moringa seed oil also has potential for use as a biofuel.
Roots: The roots are shredded and used as a condiment with sharp flavor qualities deriving from significant content of polyphenols.
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