Sharon Ní Chonchúir checks out the latest hit superfood.
Some superfoods are worth shouting about. The snappily-named Moringa is one.
According to nutritionists, it’s bursting with antioxidants, protein and all nine essential amino acids, which means that it packs a significant nutritional punch.
Wellness gurus have long been aware of this plant and brands including Aduna and food bloggers such as Madeleine Shaw have been using it in smoothies and salads.
Even beauty brands are now getting in on the act by adding it to their products.
So what exactly is it?
Moringa is a tree that grows in dry climates across much of Africa and Asia. Some people refer to it as the Drumstick Tree because of its shape or the Horseradish Tree due to the taste of its roots.
Its pods, bark and even twigs have been cooked and eaten by traditional communities for centuries but it’s the powder, which is made by grinding its leaves, that has piqued the interest of people interested in healthfoods in this part of the world.
They are excited because moringa is a plant that is unusually rich in protein. In fact, it contains more protein than virtually any other plant-based product.
It also contains all nine of the essential amino acids and is richer in these acids than whey protein. Whey protein is increasingly being added to fitness regimes so moringa is bound to be of interest to keep-fit fans.
Even more interestingly, moringa is high in iron, so high that it is traditionally used to treat anaemia, one of the most commonly diagnosed diet-related issues, particularly in women.
The most recent National Adult Nutrition Survey found that six in 10 Irish women aged between 18 and 50 don’t get enough iron in their diet.
Being low in iron reduces the body’s capacity to make red blood cells and it leaves people feeling tired and lacking in energy.
If this sounds like it applies to you, you should get your iron levels checked and you might also consider adding some moringa to your diet.
Iron isn’t the only property this nutrient-rich foodstuff contains. It also has good levels of thiamine, which helps with the release of energy, and riboflavin, which keeps skin healthy.
It’s high in vitamins C and E, which means that incorporating it into your diet will also have the added benefits of boosting your immune system and keeping your bones strong.
And that’s not all. Moringa leaf powder contains phytochemicals including quercetin and chlorogenic acid and taking the powder regularly is said to boost the levels of antioxidants in the blood.
Surely all of these health-giving properties come with a bad aftertaste? Not so. Moringa is one of the few superfoods that doesn’t have a strong taste. Instead, its flavour is subtle and spicy and quite similar to spinach, which makes it ideal for juices and smoothies.
So how can you get moringa into your diet? Moringa leaf tea is for sale in more and more shops while moringa powder can be added to smoothies, lattes, porridge or even home-baked sweet treats.
The Body Shop also sells moringa hand cream which makes the most of the plant’s skin-healing properties.
Moringa is a versatile plant that tastes good and comes jam-packed with nutrients. Surely that means that it qualifies as a superfood?
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