THE INDIAN MORINGAFeatured

Written by RUMILA G
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Why has the Indian Moringa left all Superfoods behind? Foreign Superfoods have serious competition from an indigenous food called Moringa, made from the leaves of the drumstick, which has been a part of our traditional diet in India for ages now.

The drumstick tree is often referred to as a miracle tree due to the sheer amount of nutrients it delivers. Kale and matcha have long since ruled the super greens kingdom. But recently, a powerful new grassy-hued food has started making waves as an even healthier alternative. Moringa oleifera, also known as horseradish tree because of the pungent, bitter flavour of the roots, is a tree native to India, Pakistan, and Nepal.

The catchy name, which sounds more like a salsa dance move than a superfood, cropping up as an ingredient in smoothies, juices, and booster shots at health food shops nationwide. Some have already called Moringa, with its seemingly endless list of benefits, the next big supergreen of 2017. But while it may strike the average green-juiceswigging Indian as new, the nutrientpacked plant has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years.

Moringa trees grow at a rate comparable to weeds, sometimes growing 20 feet in a year and flowering in six months. The fragile leaves are the most popular part of the plant. They can be eaten whole, but are most often dried and ground into a fine, velvety powder.

Every part of this tree is a nutritional powerhouse in itself, but it's in the leaves that they are most concentrated; 90 nutrients are already known to date, with the possibility of more to be identified.

Moringa is a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and contains significant amounts of vitamin A, B, (folic acid, pyridoxine and riboflavin), C, and E, calcium, manganese, magnesium, potassium, phosphorous, zinc and protein. Moringa leaves contain more than seven times the vitamin C of oranges, four times the vitamin A of carrots, four times the calcium of cow’s milk, and three times the potassium of bananas. The rich amino acid, vitamin, and mineral profile of Moringa leaves make them a great natural energy booster, despite the fact that they are caffeine-free.

It delivers all the eight essential amino acids our body needs and is actually one of the few plant foods that contain all the eight.

Moringa is actually a "must eat" because it belongs to the niche group of adaptogens, the new stress-fighting superherbs, which have the nutrition world excited. Some plants have superpowers that can help the body adapt to stress and handle it in a healthy way (instead of letting it run us down) - these wonder foods are called adaptogens, and they help tone, strengthen, rebuild and nourish the body. Moringa tops the list of adaptogens.

Fresh Moringa leaves can also be cooked in the same way as spinach and other saags. If you have access to them, cook fresh or have the dried powder or flakes. The best news is that you need very little about three grams per day - to score the benefits. Add to your smoothie or cereal, soups and stews or just mix it with water and gulp it down. It has an earthy and grassy taste, so you can add some honey, maple syrup or cinnamon too in order to mask the flavour, but have it all the same - for the unlimited benefits it packs.

Sometimes, all we need to do is look in our backyard to find the superfood we need in order to score health and combat modern day diseases.

And moringa is just that superfood.

Moringa is a convenient, nutrient-dense food that can be used to supplement diets otherwise lacking proper nutrition. The leaves provide a healthy boost of vitamins and minerals for anyone looking to consume them, but the plant’s true power lies in its potential to redistribute nutrition across a broader global spectrum. Instead of turning Moringa into yet another fleeting diet fad that is here today and gone tomorrow, we might find the most benefits from it if we resolve to view Moringa as a vital resource in feeding the world first and a trendy supergreen second. In a country already bursting with superfoods, that’s the type of benefit that makes Moringa worthy of real excitement.

Meanwhile, my mother tells me that in southern India, some folks have other ideas: "They thought it was an aphrodisiac." It's true. In some Tamil movies, women who are having marital troubles will try serving up Moringa for dinner. At least at this point, there's no science to back that strategy.

Superfood trends come and go - but it looks like Moringa might be the new wellness additive that's here to stay.

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