In our previous post, we spoke about the essential characteristics of Moringa. As stated, with its vast nutritional profile, moringa is often recommended and used to treat malnutrition. It is often noted that every part of the Moringa plant, starting with its roots to its seeds, leaves, and bark, is of immense use and benefit.
This blog post will articulate some of the many ways in which this wonder plant can be consumed.
As a resilient tree capable of growing in hardy conditions, moringa leaves make an excellent addition to various dishes.
The book Nutritive Value of Indian Foods, by C. Gopalan, et al. has demonstrated that moringa leaves have the following nutrients:
- 7x the Vitamin C contained in oranges
- 25x the iron contained in spinach
- 10x the Vitamin A contained in carrots
- 17x the Calcium contained in milk
- 15x the Potassium contained in bananas
- 9x the protein contained in yoghurt
Apart from the above, moringa leaves possess a highly desirable nutritional palette of minerals, amino acids, and fatty acids. With high iron content, the leaves are often added to various dishes such as pancakes and salads. Additionally, moringa leaves are often sun-dried and ground to a fine powder which can then be added to smoothies, bread dough, and batter.
Studies have found that moringa seed kernels contain about 40% of fatty acids, of which a significant portion is oleic oil. Apart from the oil, the seed has, on average, a protein content of about 31.4%.
With a high protein content, it is a highly reputed and sought after supplement to combat malnutrition and maintain good health. Additionally, the high content of methionine and cysteine are close to values reported for milk and eggs. This offers a chance for these seeds to be consumed with legumes deficient in sulphur amino acids to ensure complete nutrition.
The oil obtained from the moringa seed kernels contains up to 40% of fat with high-quality fatty acid composition. This, upon refining, offers significant resistance to oxidative degradation. Commercially known as “Ben oil” or “Behen oil”, it is suitable for human consumption and commercial purposes.
Based on the composition, Moringa oil looks to be a good substitute for olive oil with a higher smoke point than olive oil. In addition to non-food applications, such as biodiesel, cosmetics, and lubrication for machinery.
One of the most significant advantages here is that after the oil extraction, the seed cake left can be used in wastewater treatment as a natural coagulant or organic fertilizer to improve agricultural productivity.
The flowers have a delicate and soft texture. Upon cooking, they develop a deeper, more robust flavour profile similar to the taste of mushrooms. The younger, tender flowers are a delicacy in many parts of the world.
They can be fried in any neutral-tasting, refined oil or used to make a simple stir fry. Tea lovers can also use it to prepare fresh moringa tea by allowing it to steep in boiling water for a few minutes.
The flowers have high adaptogenic properties and are recommended for boosting immunity and warding off colds. Additionally, traditional medicine recommends moringa flower tea to treat urinary tract infections and as a supplement for breastfeeding women to increase milk flow while also improving nutrition.
Fresh moringa pods are also known as drumsticks and are often used in traditional cooking in India. They are made use of extensively in lentil-based gravies and stirfries. The nutritional profile is similar to the leaves and provides a lot of vitamins and minerals.
These seeds have inherently high protein digestibility amounting to nearly 93%.
The seed contains antibiotics (neomycin) that are effective against skin infections. The presence of cationic polyelectrolytes in moringa seeds makes it very useful in water purification.
When raw, they taste bitter. However, the seeds can be roasted like nuts and consumed or cooked like peas and added to various dishes.