The past 20 years of research have furnished evidence that Moringa Oleifera is the most nutrient-rich plant of the planet. But not just this scientific data draws attention. This tree can do much more and is dealt by some as the most important plant in human history. Moringa could help to:
- solve food and health problems
- reduce undersupply and malnutrition
- bridge shortages in drinking water
- tackle poverty and hunger
- avoid energy problems
The parts of the moringa tree like leaves, pots, seeds, roots and bark can be employed as aliment, remedy and tonic. Therefore, the plant could help with food and health issues in the Third World and improve the situation of hunger, maternal and infant death. Regarding this topic, there are several studies.
But not just these regions have diet-related health issues; also in the “First World” the number of sick people is increasing due to malnutrition and machine-made foodstuff. Obesity, anorexia, vitamin deficiency or hypervitaminosis for example lead to other ailments. We are eating “more”, but our food contains less essential and bioavailable ingredients. The health problems accrue with a lack of building blocks that are mandatory for our metabolism.
It has been proven that with the relentless usage of agricultural areas also the content of vitamin and nutrients of our local fruits and vegetables has decreased over the last decades.
In some parts of Africa – where drinking water is scarce – moringa seeds are applied to clarify contaminated water in a very simple way. The seeds are admixed in powdery form to dirty water and their active substances eliminate most of the suspended particles, bacteria and viruses by binding them as sediment – similar to the principal of modern clarification plants. The 99% pure water can be drunk without harmful effects and could reduce yearly death rates caused by the utilization of polluted water.
The moringa tree is frugal in its cultivation and does not need special ground preparation, which is why it is deployed for afforestation and working against desertification. In many cases, composted moringa residues can be used as a natural fertilizer to prepare the soil for growing crops. Moreover, this tree still carries edible leaves at the end of dry seasons – then, when other aliments are short.
Bioavailability is a pharmacological measure which shows the proportion of an unmodified active ingredient that is available to the systemic circulation (especially bloodstream). It indicates how quickly and in which amount a substance is resorbed by the body and reaches the targeted area. For an active ingredient that is administered intravenously, the bioavailability is 100 % by definition. In case of an oral intake we speak of an oral bioavailability, as the active ingredient is resorbed by the digestive system, e.g. gastric mucosa. Moringa has a very high bioavailability and therefore can deliver its vital substances into ones metabolism fast and effectively.
Vitamins, minerals, trace elements and secondary plant compounds (phytamins) are defined as micronutrients (also vital substances); lipids (fats), carbohydrates and proteins are summed up as macronutrients. Both are essential for our bodily functions, e.g. for the metabolism, the cell growth and with it regeneration of skin, bones, blood cells or nerve conductors. In addition, they fulfill functions in enzymatic reactions and are components of hormones (e.g. iodine of the thyroid hormone), electrolytes and antioxidants. Moringa has a very concentrated, balanced and unique composition of nutrients.
Moringa has been accompanying humanity for several millenniums, and some Asiatic and African cultures cannot imagine day-to-day life without it. The plant can only be cultivated indoors at our latitudes, hence it has to be imported from southern countries; Europeans just recently gained access to fresh moringa products. Recognition was acquired 20th century Europe particularly in form of premium-quality ben oil, which was utilized in the watchmaking industry. This may be another reason why moringa was not established as aliment at that time. Many people could simply not imagine consuming oil that was used as mechanical lubricant. Today recognition and popularity of this amazing plant are increasing due to globalization and the internet.
ORAC stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity and provides information about the total antioxidant capacity of a food sample. The derivative of vitamin E Trolox is used as reference for the measurement; this is the reason why results are expressed as trolox equivalents. Mostly, ORAC values are determined for foods with the objective to evaluate their potential of reducing free radicals and, as a result, of counteracting oxidation processes. Free radicals are atoms or molecules that have at least one unpaired electron in an outer shell which makes them highly unstable.
Damage occurs when a free radical encounters another molecule and seeks to find another electron to pair its unpaired electron. The free radical often pulls an electron off a neighboring molecule, causing the affected molecule to become a free radical itself. The new free radical can then pull an electron off the next molecule, and a chemical chain reaction of radical production occurs. The free radicals produced in such reactions often terminate by removing an electron from a molecule which becomes changed or cannot function without it. Such an event causes damage to the molecule, and thus to the cell that contains it (since the molecule often becomes dysfunctional). This is why free radicals are thought to play an important role in the development of illnesses such as cancer, atherosclerosis, liver damages, emphysema and Alzheimer, to name but a few.
To put it simply: metal rusts or oxidizes; the human body grows old or oxidizes due to comparable chemical reactions. We can antagonize the aging process with the help of natural anti-oxidants (radical catchers) which we take up with our daily nutrition or which are produced by our own organism. In this way our body – although absorbing free radicals – has the weapons to deactivate them because it has been supplied with the necessary micro- and macronutrients to produce radical catchers that act as a defense army against electron predators.
Moringa has an enormous ORAC value and is therefore one of the best radical catchers we know. Depending on the area of cultivation and type of processing, ORACs for moringa lie between 33,000 and 46,000 µmol TE/100 g. Moringa from the Canary Islands even attains 75,000 to 109,000 µmol TE/100 g. Despite the fact that the ORAC measurement method is state-approved in the USA, it is not allowed to use or advertise it in the European Union and we mentioned it just for the sake of completeness.
As an overview and for comparison, please find some ORAC values of different food stuffs in the following. ORAC values are expressed in µmol TE/100 grams.