Moringa oleifera is a fairly large tree native to North India but grows well in Asia, Africa and South America. It goes by a variety of names, such as drumstick tree, horseradish tree, ben oil tree and malungaay.
Almost all parts of the tree are edible or used in herbal medicine, but the leaves and pods are most commonly consumed. In Western countries the dried leaves are often sold in powder form or capsules. Moringa leaves are an important source of many essential nutrients. Moringa oleifera is rich in various antioxidants, including quercetin and chlorogenic acid. Moringa leaf powder can increase blood antioxidant levels. Because it provides a concentrated source of vitamin A, moringa is given to thousands of children in third-world countries every year suffering from life-threatening vitamin A deficiency, which is linked to impaired immune function. Moringa contains a variety of essential nutrients that has helped combat symptoms of malnutrition in developing countries for several decades now.
A noteworthy characteristic of the moringa tree is that it’s capable of growing in depleted or dry soils where many other types of beneficial plants or trees cannot survive. This is precisely why certain undernourished populations living in countries such as Somalia or India, have benefited from moringa during times of famine.
Moringa leaves are used to brew tea by steeping the dried, preserved leaves in hot water, which releases their special chemical compounds — very similarly to how green tea is made. Dried moringa leaves are also ground to create a long-lasting powder. At Frog Song, we dry the whole leaves and have them available as loose-leaf tea or in teabags.
Aside from providing important nutrients, moringa is used to help restore fertile soil, in forest restoration efforts, to filter water, produce an oil that benefits the skin, and also in the manufacturing of certain medications or supplements. The plant can be grown year round and as it progresses through its life cycle it actually helps replenish diminished minerals and other substances. It is a leguminous tree (related to beans and peas). Legumes have a symbiotic relationship with a special type of rhizobium bacteria to fix nitrogen present in the atmosphere, effectively creating their own fertilizer. Even as it decomposes, the moringa tree helps provide a way for populations to better grow other sources of food in difficult landscapes with barren soil.
For daily medicinal use, just prepare malunggay tea which is about 1 cup leaves boiled in about 12 ounces of water. Drink this daily. You can improve the taste by adding lemon.
Eat The Fresh Leaves from the Moringa Tree:
“Nutty Greens” The fresh leaves have a pecany-spinach taste, they have a slight “bite” to them however when they are cooked or tossed with dressing they lose the bite. Moringa leaves cook very quickly, add them towards the end of cooking, you just want to saute them until they are wilted and bright green, or sprinkle into your soup after cooking is complete.
Moringa leaves are a welcome addition to many dishes. A ½ of a cup of cooked leaves will meet your daily needs for Vitamin A and C and provides 4X more calcium than a glass of milk. We suggest adding fresh morninga leaves to soups, omelettes, quiches, mix into salad greens, add to pizzas or grilled cheese sandwiches.
To use the fresh moringa, strip the leaves off the stems. The stems are tough and not good to eat.
You can also preserve your fresh moringa by freezing the leaves, or drying them in a dehydrator.