The Health Benefits of Moringa

Moringa oleifera on wooden spoons

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Moringa, a nutrient-packed superfood that comes from the Moringa oleifera tree in India, has been used for centuries in Eastern cultures to promote health and wellness. Modern research suggests moringa can help to lower cholesterol, balance blood sugar, and ease other health concerns. 

The leaves, pods, and seeds of the moringa tree are rich in antioxidants, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. A complete protein, moringa leaf powder contains all nine essential amino acids the body needs. The pods are a rich source of Vitamin C and the edible seeds contain a high amount of oleic acid, a beneficial fatty acid also found in olive oil.

In alternative medicine, moringa is used to alleviate headaches, ease constipation, stimulate the immune system, promote weight loss, and increase libido. Moringa powder is often added to smoothies, drank as a tea, or included in nutrition bars and energy drinks and moringa oil is used topically for hair and skincare.

Health Benefits

Frequently referred to as a “miracle tree,” moringa has a long history of use in systems of traditional medicine throughout South Asia that is being explored in modern science.

Studies show moringa contains a number of compounds with health-promoting effects, including quercetin and beta-sitosterol. It also has anti-inflammatory compounds and may protect against health issues linked to oxidative stress and chronic inflammation, including heart disease and certain cancers. In addition, it may help treat and/or prevent several chronic conditions, such as diabetes, high cholesterol, arthritis, asthma, and high blood pressure.

While findings from animal-based research, laboratory experiments, and small clinical studies suggest moringa has promise in the treatment of several health conditions, more research is needed.

Here's a look at some of the preliminary evidence that moringa may protect against the following health problems:

Diabetes 

Research suggests moringa may help fight diabetes by balancing blood sugar and reducing complications, although precisely how it works isn’t completely understood. One theory is it boosts insulin production, as a small clinical trial published in 2016 suggests. In a study of healthy volunteers, a single 4-gram dose of moringa leaf powder was shown to increase circulating insulin and lower blood sugar. 

A small clinical trial published in the journal Nutrients in 2018 found moringa may reduce post-meal blood sugar spikes. The study included 17 people with diabetes and 10 healthy subjects and found moringa appeared to blunt blood sugar spikes after meals.

A 2019 study in rats found moringa may help diabetes by reducing insulin resistance, a condition where cells in the body are less able to absorb blood glucose. Rats in the study were fed a high-fructose diet to induced insulin resistance. After four weeks of treatment with moringa, insulin sensitivity improved, help to reduce blood sugar. 

The benefits were not limited to the moringa leaf. A 2012 study published in the Journal of Diabetes found moringa pod extract may help fight diabetes as well. Researchers fed moringa pod extract to diabetic rats and found it significantly reduced the progression of diabetes and related complications.

Cardiovascular Disease 

Extracts of the moringa leaf may help to lower cholesterol and improve heart health. A review published in Frontiers in Pharmacology in 2012 examined the existing clinical and animal trials of moringa leaf and concluded it may be an effective treatment for dyslipidemia, a condition marked by elevated levels of cholesterol, triglycerides (a type of blood fat), or both.

Moringa seeds have traditionally been used to lower blood pressure and improve heart function, a use current research suggests may be effective. A 2017 study in rats found moringa seeds offer cardio-protective benefits and may help to treat high blood pressure, the traditional use of the plant. Another rat study in 2019 found moringa seeds may prevent age-related heart and vascular disorders.

Possible Side Effects

Few human studies have tested the health benefits of moringa, but in those that have, moringa was well tolerated without any side effects reported. It has been used for centuries as both food and medicine, without any reported adverse effects.

However, since moringa may lower blood sugar and blood pressure, do not mix moringa with medications to treat diabetes or blood pressure. Before you take any kind of dietary supplements to prevent or treat a medical condition, talk to your doctor and pharmacists.

Selection, Preparation & Storage

Frequently referred to as a “miracle tree,” moringa has a long history of use in systems of traditional medicine throughout South Asia. It is available in capsules, powder, extract, dried pods, and seeds and sold at health-food stores and online.

There is no universally recommended dosage for moringa. Follow the direction on the packaging and do not exceed the daily dosage listed on the product label.

Common Questions

Can moringa help you lose weight?

Moringa is often touted as a weight loss aid, however, there is limited research to support this. Some research suggests it may help to treat metabolic syndrome, a cluster of symptoms that include abdominal obesity. It is also being investigated as a weight loss aid in combination with other herbs. In a clinical trial of 140 overweight adults, a proprietary blend of Curcuma longaMoringa oleifera, and Murraya koeingii combined with modest calorie restriction and physical activity was found to lower body-mass index (BMI) by 2 points over the 16-week study.

What does moringa taste like?

Moringa powder tastes similar to other greens and has been compared to matcha powder and spirulina. Moringa seeds are an acquired tasted and have been described as tasting sweet when you first put them in your mouth, but turn bitter when you chew them.

Is moringa an aphrodisiac?

In traditional medicine, moringa is used to treat erectile dysfunction. While this use has not been proven in human trials, studies in rats suggest it may improve sexual function in males by increasing testosterone levels.

A Word From Verywell

Although it’s too soon to recommend moringa for any health-related purpose, adding moringa extract to smoothies or sipping the plant’s extract in tea form may boost the nutritional power of your diet. If you’re thinking of using moringa to manage a chronic health problem, make sure to consult your physician first.

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