Aside from helping lactating moms, this green leafy veg has more up its sleeve
A common backyard tree and a home-cooking staple in the Philippines, moringa or malunggay — as it’s commonly known among Filipinos — is considered to be one of the most nutritious plants ever discovered so far, and both tradition and science agree so.
Breastfeeding Filipino moms add moringa to their soups or take it in powder form to enhance their milk supply, while a boxing icon also swears by this green leafy vegetable in keeping his fighting form. It’s also included in the list of recommended herbal plants found in the Philippines as endorsed by the Department of Health (DOH), noting that it has been long used to treat different health conditions.
For many years, there have also been efforts in both chambers of Congress to declare malunggay as the country’s national vegetable and designate November as National Malunggay Month in recognition of the plant’s life-giving benefits and economic potential. Recently, the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-FNRI) has included moringa in its plans to launch a nutrient-dense feeding program for school kids.
Various international scientific studies have also affirmed moringa’s health benefits, calling it a miracle vegetable and a superfood. Usually added to tinola and other dishes, the World Health Organization (WHO) has promoted moringa as a cost-effective way to improve one’s health and combat malnutrition, which greatly affects Filipino children.
That’s for a good reason since moringa leaves have been found to contain higher amounts of vitamin C than oranges to keep infections and illnesses including colds and flu at bay and more vitamin A than carrots which can help fight eye and skin diseases, heart ailments, and diarrhea. The leaves also have higher calcium content than milk to help build strong bones and teeth and prevent osteoporosis and more potassium than bananas to improve how the brain and nerves function. The leaves are also used to kill intestinal worms and also treat fevers, bronchitis, and eye and ear infections.
Moringa also has nine times more iron than spinach to prevent anemia and related blood diseases and four times more fiber than oat to help improve immune system. It also contains properties that can help ease the symptoms of rheumatism, arthritis and other joint afflictions, and are considered as cardiac and circulatory stimulants. Studies have also confirmed that malunggay has anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, and diuretic properties.
Research has also revealed that moringa contains chlorogenic acid, which is a type of acid that has been shown to help control blood sugar levels. A study conducted by the FNRI-DOST found that food products such as buns, fish sausages, and veggie soups with added malunggay leaf powder helped decrease blood sugar levels, which can help fight diabetes, considered as a growing epidemic in the Philippines.
It was also revealed that malunggay extract could destroy colorectal cancer cells (colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer among Filipinos) without damaging healthy human cells, according to an award-winning study conducted by researchers at the De La Salle University (DLSU). This ability of moringa was attributed to a bioactive compound called isothiocyanates, which was reported to induce cell death in some human cancer cell lines.
Though popular as a breastfeeding supplement, moringa actually does more wonders for our health with all the essential nutrients it contains. From helping us simply maintain general good health to combating more complicated health problems, moringa truly deserves to be called a miracle vegetable.