(NaturalNews) Moringa oleifera is a tree that is native to the Himalayan mountains of northern India. Though it is not well-known in the United States, the tree is treasured in many parts of the world (especially Africa and South America) due to the healing properties of its leaves. In fact, moringa's small, light green leaves are so nutrient-dense that the tree has been nicknamed 'The Tree of Immortality' and 'The Miracle Tree' by the inhabitants of the countries in which it is cultivated. Let's find out whether these nicknames are deserved.
Moringa's health benefits
Rich in antioxidants - Analysis has shown that dried and powdered moringa leaves (which is how moringa is usually sold and consumed) contain 46 antioxidant types, including carotenoids, zinc, selenium, chromium, and all the vitamins (even vitamin B and vitamin K). Moringa leaves also contain 36 anti-inflammatory compounds, including calcium, copper, chlorophyll, omega-3, omega-6, omega-9, and sulfur. All of these antioxidants and compounds occur naturally in the plant, and work together to maximize absorption. For example, the magnesium found in moringa helps us to absorb its calcium.
Nutrient concentrations - Like most superfoods, moringa contains a lot of nutrients. What really sets it apart from others, though, are the concentrations of those nutrients. For example, ounce-per-ounce, dried moringa leaves contain three times more potassium than bananas, 2,500 times more amino acids than green tea, three times more iron than spinach or roast beef, three times more calcium than milk, and 10 times the recommended daily amount of vitamin E.
A complete protein - Moringa leaves are between 30 and 40 percent protein, and contain 18 amino acids. Of these, nine (valine, lysine, leucine, histidine, isoleucine, methionine, threonine, phenylalanine, and tryptophan) are essential amino acids. This makes moringa a 'complete' protein source - something seldom found in the plant world. We need protein, of course, to build bones, skin, blood, and cartilage, and to produce hormones and enzymes. Without it, our bodies would biochemically dismantle.
Makes a great oil - Though the moringa tree is best-known for its nutritious leaves, its seeds also have a use: The matured pods can be processed into 'ben oil,' a clear, sweet oil that rivals olive oil in antioxidant activity. Ben oil is extremely durable and doesn't spoil, and has been used for centuries as a perfume base, cooking lubricant, and salad dressing.
Given moringa's healthiness, it is unsurprising that regular consumption of its leaves - in cooked or dried states - has been linked to reduced blood pressure, weight loss, improved mood and digestion, healthier skin (some Western cosmetic companies are now adding moringa extracts to their skincare products), and much more. In fact, Ayurvedic medicine claims that over 300 diseases can be treated by consuming moringa leaves. So why not try it out?
About the author: Michael Ravensthorpe is an independent writer whose research interests include nutrition, alternative medicine, and bushcraft. He is the creator of the website, Spiritfoods, through which he promotes the world's healthiest foods.