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Moringa

The Little-Known Superfood

If you've never heard of Moringa, you are not alone. Although this tropical plant grows abundantly in parts of Africa and Asia, many people living in Western countries are not familiar with it. However, if you have never tried it, you are missing out on a nutritional superfood. This humble plant is packed with nutrients, especially iron, which makes it ideal for those who struggle with anemia or for vegetarians who may need to get more iron in their diet.     

My first experience with Moringa was when I was living in Ghana, West Africa. I had my own chiropractic practice in a rural part of Ghana, and a patient brought me Moringa that she had grown in her garden. At first glance, these plants with small green leaves don't look like much. To be honest, they don't taste like much either. Some people have described it as tasting 'green.' It has a mild grassy taste which, when I tried to put some old Moringa powder in a smoothie, tastes like freshly mown hay when it is no longer fresh.                                    

Moringa might not look or taste like much, but it is a powerhouse in terms of nutrition. It is very high in iron, potassium and B vitamins. It grows easily in tropical countries such as West Africa, India and Southeast Asia. Because it has such a high nutritional content, it may be a solution to malnutrition in developing countries. It's high nutritional content and healing properties means that it is often used in herbal remedies in countries where it grows easily, such as tropical parts of Asia and West Africa. Because of it's high iron content, it is especially ideal for those who may not have access to meat, especially red meat. Taking Moringa regularly may be the solution to anemia, which is very common with malnutrition.  There is some controversy about taking Moringa during pregnancy, however, as the roots of the plant have been used as a contraceptive when applied topically. However, the leaves are not considered to be a contraceptive aid. As in all things, consult your doctor before taking it during pregnancy (it may be best to consult a Naturopath or doctor that deals in homeopathy as most Medical Doctors may not be familiar with Moringa and many shy away from the use of herbs during pregnancy, no matter how beneficial) and do your research. I mixed it in smoothies and drank it sparingly (about once a week) during my pregnancy with no ill effects but you should do your research beforehand and decide what you are comfortable with.

Moringa can be taken in a couple different ways. You can eat the leaves in a salad or cook it as part of a main dish. Moringa can also be dried and made into a powder, which makes it easy to add to smoothies or soups.  It does have a grassy taste but mixed with pineapple or other tropical fruits, the taste isn't overwhelming and it balances out the sweetness of the fruit.  I personally prefer taking it as a powder because of the convenience and the concentration of the nutrients. You don't need to eat as much of it to get all the nutritional benefits. Fortunately for me, shortly after trying the Moringa my patient gave me, I was able to find it at a local organic farmer's market near my house. The market was run by expats, a husband and wife team, and the wife was very knowledgeable in nutrition. She helped answer all my questions, especially after I became pregnant and wanted to continue taking it during my pregnancy. I continued to buy Moringa from her after I left Ghana and moved back to the U.S. because she moved back as well and opened a small shop in my home state. This allowed me to share the benefits of Moringa with my family.

If you don't live in an area where Moringa is grown, you can find it online. Make sure that you buy from a reputable brand and that the Moringa is organic and free from impurities. Finding Moringa in powdered form may be easier than buying it fresh. There are also teas made with Moringa but make sure you are buying from a reputable brand so you get a good quality product. Although the taste may take some getting used to, the nutritional benefits are worth it. Try it and see the difference it makes in your health.

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