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Centuries ago royal families and aristocrats enjoyed a drink from a tree called “The Miracle Tree”. It was well-known for its many health benefits, which included healthy skin and mental alertness. That herb is still used today and is commonly known as Moringa.
The title “The Miracle Tree”, has been attributed to it because humans can benefit from every part of the tree. The roots, bark, seeds and leaves can be used for various things, including medicine, food and water purification. “Tree of Life,” “Never Die Tree” and “Drumstick Tree” are other monikers that have attached themselves to the nutrient-dense tree over time.
Moringa is a drought-resistant tree that can be found in Africa, South Asia, northern India and other tropical places like the Caribbean. The name Moringa derived from its twisted pod. Some countries used different parts of it, which is why the name varies. Drumstick tree because of the long, slender, triangular seed-pods. Horseradish tree for the taste of the root, which resembles horseradish. The seeds and leaves are also used as vegetables and for traditional herbal medicine. It can also be used to purify water. The seeds can be germinated year-round. In the Philippines and Indonesia, it is commonly grown for its leaves, which are used for food.
The leaves are also the most nutritious part of the plant, being a significant source of B vitamins, vitamin C and provitamin A as beta-carotene, vitamin K, manganese and protein. When compared with common foods Moringa is particularly high in certain nutrients.
The seeds can be removed from mature pods, cut and cooked for consumption.
In Nigeria, the seeds are prized for their bitter flavor; they are commonly added to sauces or eaten as a fried snack. The edible seed oil may be used in condiments or dressings. The young, slender fruits, commonly known as “drumsticks”, are often prepared as a culinary vegetable in South Asia. They are prepared by parboiling, commonly cut into shorter lengths, and cooked in a curry or soup until soft. The taste is described as reminiscent of asparagus.
In India and Bangladesh, drumstick curries are commonly prepared by boiling immature pods to the desired level of tenderness in a mixture of coconut milk and spices (such as poppy or mustard seeds). The fruit is a common ingredient in daals and lentil soups, such as drumstick daal and sambar, where it is pulped first, then simmered with other vegetables and spices like turmeric and cumin. Mashed drumstick pulp commonly features in Bhurta, a mixture of lightly fried or curried vegetables.
Edible raw or cooked (depending on hardiness), the leaves can be used in many ways. They are perhaps most commonly added to clear broth-based soups, such as the Filipino dishes tinola and utan. Tender moringa leaves, finely chopped, are used as a garnish for vegetable dishes and salads, such as the Kerala dish thoran. It is also used in place of or along with coriander. The leaves are also cooked and used in ways similar to spinach and are commonly dried and crushed into a powder for soups and sauces.
The health benefits range from health, beauty, disease prevention, and cures:
• Protecting the liver
• Preventing and treating Cancer
• Treating stomach problems
• Healthier bones
• Treating mood disorders, Depression, anxiety, and fatigue
• Protecting the Cardiovascular system
• Improving eye health
• help to lower cholesterol and blood pressure
• help the body convert fats into energy
Moringa has held in such high regard that it finds itself in debates about what is better between sea moss or moringa. One video described it best in my opinion by saying “but if superfoods were the superfriends, moringa would be Superman and sea moss would be Aquaman”.
**Anyone considering using moringa is advised to discuss it with a doctor first. Moringa may possess anti-fertility qualities and is therefore not recommended for pregnant women.
Words by Kaba Abdul-Fattah.