Moringa Benefits: What is Moringa Oleifera?

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What is Moringa Oleifera | Real Food RN

You may not have discovered Moringa yet, but I believe you will be hearing a lot about it in the next few years—it has all the makings of the next big scientific superfood “find.”

This nutrition powerhouse is a fast-growing tree that originates from India, but can now be found all over Asia and subtropical locations. Every part of the tree can be used for its various healing properties. It’s been called the “miracle tree” for its nutritional assets for malnourished peoples in developing countries, even in times of drought. Moringa has been used for centuries in the Ayurvedic and Unani systems of traditional medicine, touting remedies for over 300 ailments!

One day I got a really nice box in the mail that was filled with Moringa! I was intrigued. So, it was time for me to give it a go.


Moringa Oleifera is a fast growing, drought resistant, tropical tree that is arguably one of the world’s most nutritious plants! Recently this tree is getting more exposure and, as a result, grabbing the attention of health-conscious Americans.

Although relatively new to the US, Moringa has been used for centuries in areas of Asia and Africa; after all, it is a tropical tree. The tiny leaves, which have a strong taste with a bite like horseradish, are highly acclaimed for both their nutritional and medicinal properties. The seed pods are also edible and are nutritionally similar but not as potent as the leaves. Moringa seed oil has many unique and beneficial properties typically not found in a single source. This makes the oil coveted in the cosmetic and health and beauty world!

Moringa Benefits

To date, researchers and scientists have only investigated a fraction of the claimed health benefits of Moringa. Below is a brief summary.

1. Incredible Nutritional Profile

Fresh Moringa leaves are incredibly nutrient dense! Moringa delivers incredibly high levels of all types of proteins, amino acids, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. The leafy greens are made up of 10% protein and contain 18 amino acids including all 9 essential amino acids! On a gram for gram basis, fresh Moringa leaves also contain*:

  • 4x more calcium than milk
  • 3x more vitamin C than oranges
  • 2x more iron than spinach
  • 2.5x more protein than yogurt
  • The same potassium of bananas
  • The same vitamin A of carrots

Moringa also contains zeatin, quercetin, beta-sitosterol, caffeoylquinic acid, kaempferol, silymarin and essential minerals such as zinc.

What is Moringa Oleifera | Real Food RN

*The above comparison was made from data taken exclusively from the USDA nutrient Database [1]. Other food nutrient databases report significantly higher levels of vitamins and minerals in Moringa! [2,3] In any case, Moringa is a nutritional powerhouse!

2. Rich in Antioxidants

Moringa Oleifera leaves have been shown to have extremely high antioxidant activity! [4,5]. Some of the heavy hitters include: Quercetin, Chlorogenic acid, Vitamin C and Beta-carotene. Because of its antioxidant potency, Moringa works to prevent or reduce the effect of major diseases in our culture:

  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure

Dr. Axe recently stated:

Moringa leaves are high in several anti-aging compounds that lower the effects of oxidative stress and inflammation, including polyphenols, vitamin C, beta-carotene, quercetin, and chlorogenic acid. These are associated with a reduced risk for chronic diseases, such as stomach, lung or colon cancer; diabetes; hypertension; and age-related eye disorders. [6]

3. Lowers Cholesterol

Both animal and human studies have proven Moringa to be nearly as effective at lowering cholesterol levels as some popular prescription drugs. With the lowering of cholesterol in the blood comes lower risk of heart disease. [7,8,9,10]

In 2012, the International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications published the results of a study where they gave postmenopausal woman 1.5 Tbsp of Moringa powder each day. They showed there was a significant decrease in total cholesterol and triglycerides. [7]

4. Reduces Inflammation

Traditionally, Moringa oil was used to cure stomach ulcers, and medical science has now proven that it does, indeed, reduce chronic inflammation, including the ability to protect the liver from prolonged inflammation. It’s believed that the isothiocyanates, flavonoids, and phenolic acids found in the oil, which is made from Moringa leaves, pods, and seeds are what provide these benefits.

Inflammation is understood to lead to many chronic diseases, including cancer and even heart disease. Moringa leaves, seedpods, and seeds have all been shown to possess anti-inflammatory properties! [11, 12, 13] To further understand the effectiveness of Moringa as an anti-inflammatory, clinic tests on humans need to be conducted. At this point, results are very positive from animal testing.

5. Balances Blood Sugar Levels

In 2012, it was reported that 9.3% of the American population had diabetes and 86 million Americans age 20 and older had pre-diabetes! High blood sugar levels lead to a multitude of health issues!

Moringa has shown to naturally reduce fasting food sugar levels by 13.5% by women taking 7 grams of powder per day. [7] In another study, Moringa powder also reduced the rise in blood sugar levels after eating by 21% [14] . At this point, more clinical trials with larger populations are required; but the results look very promising!

Again, Dr. Axe in his recent article on Moringa stated:

Moringa contains a type of acid called chlorogenic acid, which has been shown to help control blood sugar levels and allow cells to take up or release glucose (sugar) as needed. This gives moringa natural antidiabetic and hormone-balancing properties. Aside from chlorogenic acid, compounds called isothiocyanates that are present in moringa have also been tied to natural protection against diabetes. [6]

6. Increases Milk Supply

Breastfeeding of babies is on the rise in the US (YAY!!!!!), but one of the largest reasons people give up is a concern over milk supply. In fact, one national study on feeding practices found that about 50% of mothers cited insufficient milk supply as their reason for stopping breastfeeding [15]. Better add some Moringa to my Lactation Cookie Dough Bites!

In the Philippines, where Moringa capsules are prescribed by doctors for various treatments, clinical tests have been conducted to test the effectiveness of Moringa on increasing milk supply. Tests show a significant increase in milk production starting on day 4 of taking Moringa capsules. Increases of over 100% have been documented by day 7! Baby weight during the first 4 months after birth has also shown to be significantly increased when Moringa capsules are used by the mother. All studies were free from any unwanted side effects. [16]

7. Skin, Hair and Scalp Moisturizer and Cleanser :

Like Moringa leaves, Moringa oil has many benefits! Moringa oil is packed full of antioxidants as well as having high levels of oleic and behenic fatty acids. Behenic acid, a saturated fatty acid is used in moisturizers, hair conditioners and lubricating oils. Behenic acid helps to keep skin and hair both soft and smooth. It also makes Moringa oil a coveted base for skin and hair care products as well as perfumes. Moringa oil is a pale yellow color, with a very mild nutty flavor. It is odorless, non-sticking, non-drying, and a liquid at room temperature. It also resists rancidity lasting for several years.

Wonder why the oil is so expensive? It takes about 500 Moringa seeds to produce 1 oz of Moringa oil!

  • Moisturizer: With the oil’s high oleic acid content, it makes for an excellent, non-sticky, skin moisturizer. It can also be used on skin conditions such as psoriasis or eczema and chapped lips. This would make a great addition to my Bedtime Face Serum!
  • Skin and Hair Care: Again because of the very high behenic acid concentration, the oil exhibits conditioning properties that help to keep skin and hair soft and smooth. The oil is very thin and spreads further than would be expected. Simply rub into skin or wash into wet hair.
  • Cleanser: Oil is reported to help eliminate acne and blackheads. It may also help remove spots from acne when used on a long-term basis.
  • Anti-aging Oil: Due to the high anti-oxidant and behenic oil concentrations, the oil helps improve and rejuvenate the appearance of aging skin.
  • Carrier Oil for Homemade Massage Oils: With the properties described above, the oil makes for a great carrier oil in homemade massage oils. I like to use it with my Essential Oils!
  • Base for Homemade Perfume: Since the oil resists rancidity and has such a high oleic acid level, it makes an ideal choice for a perfume base. It also has the ability to absorb and retain scents and fragrances! Again, add some Essential Oils and you have yourself a great perfume. I suggest adding: Joy, Geranium, or Stress Away!
  • Base for Homemade Soaps: The oil has been reported to make a good base for homemade soaps.

Note from reader: If you suffer from H. Pylori, consuming moringa can make you feel awful until you rid your body of the H. Pylori. 

How to Eat Moringa

I am actively working on recipe creation using Moringa, so stay tuned for those! For now, it always goes into my morning smoothie!

Moringa is typically eaten in one of two forms fresh leaves or dried leaf powder.

Fresh Moringa leaves have a moisture content of 75 – 80%, while dried leaves have a moisture content of less than 10%. That means that 1 lb of Moringa powder starts out as roughly 3.5 – 4.5 lbs of fresh leaves!

When eating Moringa powder, start by eating 1/2 tsp a day. That isn’t much powder, but Moringa is a very powerful food; and your body needs time to adjust to it. If initially taken in large quantities, it can have a detoxifying effect on the body! Detox reactions can be uncomfortable for sure!

In the second week of use, increase to 1 tsp per day and continue to slowly increase your consumption until you reach 1-2 Tbsp (3 – 6 tsp) per day. It may take you 3 – 4 weeks in total to ramp up your consumption. You will start feeling the positive effects within a couple of weeks, even before you have finished ramping up your consumption.

While it’s ok to use Moringa powder or leaves in food that you are cooking, it is best to refrain from heating it for more than a few minutes. Moringa is most nutritious when consumed raw. If a particular dish requires heating, when possible, add the leaves/powder during the last few minutes of cooking to limit heat exposure and maximize Moringa benefits.

What is Moringa Oleifera | Real Food RN

It’s also important to know that fresh Moringa leaves have a really potent aftertaste if eaten by themselves. Seconds after first chewing them, many would argue that  a large handful of leaves could easily be consumed, but when Moringa’s powerful aftertaste or burning sensation soon emerges, any protests quickly wane. Do not be deterred by the strong flavor of the leaves, Moringa can and does combine in a delightful way when paired with quite a variety of flavors! The powder does not lend any flavor to my smoothies, so I prefer to use the powder over the fresh leaves (which are seasonal anyway).

Try eating Moringa the following ways and note the equivalent ratios between fresh Moringa and dry powder:

What is Moringa Oleifera | Real Food RN

  1. Smoothies: This is my favorite way to consume Moringa! Simply add the desired amount of Moringa to your smoothie each day and enjoy. Don’t be surprised if the color of your smoothie changes more than you expected! The flavor is not affected!
  2. Sprinkle on Food: Start to experiment when preparing different dishes. You will find you can easily sprinkle 1 tsp of powder on a plate of food, a cup of soup, or on a sandwich. Do this a few times throughout the day, and you’re set.
  3. Moringa Tea: this is a great use for whole dried leaves: Drink Moringa tea and get a morning boost without the caffeine Seriously!
  4. Refreshing Beverage: Moringa, lemon, honey, mint leaves, ginger, and ice. For a fresh, potent, and incredibly nutritious drink, mix as many of the above ingredients as you have in a blender and add plenty of water. How much powder you can handle vs. how much honey you need to sweeten the drink will really be a matter of personal preference. To add some more flavor, swap out the water for coconut milk.
  5. Moringa CapsulesMoringa capsules are great to take with you when you are traveling or for those of you that have a hard time incorporating Moringa powder into your diet.

What is Moringa Oleifera | Real Food RN

Moringa Recipes (I am working on these!)

I use the Moringa powder in my smoothie every morning and I am still developing more recipes using it. If you want to find more recipes, there are some great ideas HERE. I made their Moringa Overnight Oats: Creamy Chocolate Coconut Peanut Swirl (pictured above), and it is delicious!

Where to Find Moringa Products

If you have access to fresh leaves at a farmers market, you are very fortunate! Fresh is the best way to consume Moringa. Fresh Moringa leaves are also available seasonally shipped from California.

Thankfully, even if you don’t have access to fresh leaves, a powder form of the leaf is available from many suppliers year round. When the fresh leaves are dried and turned into a powder (as long as they are processed quickly and at a low temperature), they maintain nearly all the nutrients.

The Moringa powder sold from A Healthy Leaf is harvested by hand at a USDA certified organic farm in Ecuador. It is washed, rinsed then placed into a dryer. The whole leaves are dried at a maximum temperature of 114°F. While more costly, using this temperature controlled drying facility minimizes the time it takes for the leaves to dry. This is important for both the purity and nutrient retention of the product. Open sun drying of the leaves, for example, causes the most nutrient loss while shade drying is slow and puts the product at high risk of contamination.

It’s important to note as Moringa continues to gain in popularity in the US, it seems that many low-quality products are flooding the market. For a simple test, Moringa powder should have a deep, vibrant green appearance and a strong, fresh, grassy aroma. For real, the color is amazing! The powder should also be laboratory tested and free from heavy metal and microbial contamination that may be prevalent in exporting countries. Avoid products that have clear packaging as light breaks down the powder.

If you leave Moringa powder outside exposed to the sun and air you should see a grayish brownish layer form on the exposed surface. Some powders we see on the market look brown right out of the package: avoid such products. It’s important to keep the powder in a dry and dark environment and keep it sealed to prevent it from degrading from the light and oxidizing

I have personally tried all of these products from a Healthy Leaf and I think they are great!


Here are some exclusive Coupon Codes for you to get started on your journey with Moringa! 

➜ 25% off one Bottle of Moringa Capsules: RFRNMoringaCap25

➜ 25% off one Pack of Moringa Tea: RFRNMoringaTea25

Get yours here ➜ https://realfoodrn.com/moringa


While Moringa is a wonderful option for providing nourishment in developing countries, we don’t need to look that far to see how this miracle food could benefit the health and nutrition of the whole human race. Even when we try to get all of the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients from whole foods, because of the depletion of nutrients in our soil, most of us are malnourished in the West. Adding Moringa to our daily food consumption can help us all live longer, healthier lives.

UPDATE: Check out this amazing video that A Healthy Leaf made that explains why their product clearly is the best on the market!

How do YOU plan to use it? I would love to hear about it in the comments below!

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Hi! I'm Kate.

Registered Nurse. Mom. Real Foodie.

Welcome to Real Food RN! A blog with the mission to empower you to live your healthiest life possible, starting today.

 

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