Moringa (also known as Moringa oleifera) is a plant which is native to the foothills of the sub-Himalayan areas of Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan.
It has been used for thousands of years as food and medicine – and is currently gaining popularity as a health food, “superfood,” and a medicinal plant. You can buy it in the form of capsules, powder, leaves, and tea.
Moringa contains potent antioxidants, as well as health-boosting bioactive plant compounds. It is said to have various health benefits – from helping your body fight inflammation to lowering cholesterol – which is why some people choose to take it as a supplement or add it to foods and smoothies.
So, what are the health benefits of Moringa, are there any side effects, and could you benefit from using it? Read on to find out everything you need to know about this healthy plant!
Moringa Health Benefits (Science-Backed)
Below are the health benefits Moringa is known to have:
1. Moringa is Highly Nutritious
100grams of Moringa oleifera leaf extract contains :
- Vitamin A: 80 μg
- Thiamine (B1):103 mg
- Riboflavin (B2):112 mg
- Niacin (B3):5 mg
- Pantothenic acid (B5):48 mg
- Vitamin B6:129 mg
- Folate (B9): 41 μg
- Vitamin C:6 mg
Moringa is also rich in various essential nutrients, such as:
- Calcium: 99.1 mg
- Iron: 1.3 mg
- Magnesium: 35.1 mg
- Manganese: 0.119 mg
- Phosphorus: 70.8 mg
- Potassium: 471 mg
- Sodium: 70 mg
- Zinc: 0.85 mg
Its nutritional profile – as well as the fact that it’s generally cheap and easy to produce – makes Moringa a great food option in the parts of the world where malnutrition is prevalent.
The only downside of Moringa is that the leaves may contain high levels of antinutrients – substances which reduce the absorption of minerals and protein .
In Western countries, Moringa is readily available in the form of dried leaves, capsules, and powder in health stores or online.
2. It Contains Powerful Antioxidants
Moringa is rich in powerful antioxidants that help protect the body cells from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are electrically charged molecules in the cells that are unstable and may react with other molecules – and even damage them. This means that high levels of free radicals are harmful to the body – and have also been linked to the development of severe diseases such as type 2 diabetes, and heart disease .
Moringa oleifera contains several different plant compounds which are known to have powerful positive effects on the body:
- Vitamin C: a powerful antioxidant, Vitamin C helps reduce the risk of chronic diseases , battle high blood pressure , improve iron absorption , and more;
- Beta-carotene: Beta-carotene is an antioxidant which plays a crucial role in the body’s functioning. It improves cognitive function , prevents sun damage , and reduces macular degeneration  and, according to the National Cancer Institute, has even been shown to prevent cancer ;
- Chlorogenic acid: This antioxidant is known for its anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-obesity impacts ;
- Quercetin: Quercetin is a polyphenol which has a variety of health benefits, from preventing cancer and reducing inflammation, to providing antiviral properties .
Studies have shown that leaf extracts were more powerful antioxidants than flowers and seeds. They were more able to fight off free radicals – and inhibit protein, lipid and DNA oxidation .
3. Moringa May Help Reduce Inflammation
When our body is responding to an infection or an injury, it is normal for us to experience inflammation. Increased blood flow to the area of injury or infection is the body’s natural way of responding to it.
Luckily, many fruits and vegetables we eat daily can help us reduce inflammation – and Moringa is one of those foods. It is nutritionally-dense and full of compounds that promote anti-inflammatory activity in the body [16, 17].
However, research into Moringa’s effectiveness in reducing inflammation has mainly been conducted in the lab, or with animals. This means that more human studies are needed to know whether it has significant anti-inflammatory effects on humans.
4. It May Lower Cholesterol
Cholesterol is up there on the list of widely debated topics right now. It has long been thought that high cholesterol is one of the leading causes of heart disease . LDL cholesterol often referred to as “bad cholesterol” may cling to the walls of your arteries, and even clog them.
However, that has been called into question in recent years by studies which showed that those which high LDL cholesterol live just as long as those with low LDL cholesterol . However, the study in question has some limitations, since the researchers didn’t look at HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels, only looked at studies from only one database and only those that were published in English. They also didn’t look at other health and lifestyle habits – not the use of cholesterol-lowering medications.
Regardless of the ongoing debate about cholesterol, high LDL cholesterol is widely considered by heart health organizations as the leading cause of cholesterol build-up and artery blockage . Therefore, reducing your levels of LDL cholesterol is recommended for managing your heart risk factors.
The good news is that many plants, including Moringa oleifera, can help reduce cholesterol in the body. There have been plenty of both animal and human-based studies that have supported this claim, which means that using Moringa oleifera may help keep your cholesterol levels healthy [21, 22].
5. Moringa May Reduce Blood Sugar Levels
Having high blood sugar is the main characteristic of diabetes – and, when left untreated, can be dangerous. That’s because chronic blood sugar may increase your risk of various severe diseases, including stroke and heart disease.
According to multiple research studies, moringa may help lower blood sugar levels. One study with two different types of rats showed that oral consumption of moringa significantly lowered their glucose levels . Another study, conducted to assess the effectiveness of Moringa oleifera as a remedy for treating diabetes, also showed a significant reduction in blood glucose levels .
A study conducted with female participants showed that consuming 7 grams of Moringa leaf powder each day for three months reduced blood sugar levels by 13.5% . A study of just six people with diabetes also found that supplementing a meal with Moringa leaves reduced the rise in blood sugar levels by 21% .
Scientists assume that the plant compounds called isothiocyanates are responsible for this reduction in blood sugar levels .
However, the majority of the studies into Moringa’s effectiveness in lowering blood sugar levels were animal-based rather than human-based, meaning that the evidence is generally limited and more research with humans is needed to establish the validity of these claims .
6. It May Protect Your Body Against Arsenic Toxicity
Arsenic toxicity refers to elevated levels of arsenic in the body. Contamination of food and water with arsenic is common in various parts of the world. Rice, in particular, contains high levels of this chemical .
Several studies conducted with animals have revealed that thanks to Moringa oleifera’s potent antioxidant properties, consuming its leaves may help protect the body against the effects of arsenic toxicity [32, 33].
However, it is important to note more human studies are needed to determine whether the plant could protect the human body.
Safety and Side Effects
Moringa is considered to be possibly safe when taken by mouth in low doses (i.e., in doses up to 6 grams daily). However, the appropriate dose of Moringa may also depend on the user’s age, health, and many other conditions. There isn’t enough information to know the appropriate dose of Moringa – which is why it is best to consult a healthcare professional or pharmacist before beginning to use it.
We found very few reported side effects of Moringa oleifera – but it is important to avoid using the root and its extracts because these may contain toxic substances that can cause paralysis and even death.
It is also worth noting that Moringa is considered likely unsafe if you’re pregnant, and shouldn’t be used then. It is known to have anti-fertility qualities such as making the uterus contract which poses a risk of miscarriage. Therefore, it is best to stay away from using the flowers, bark, or root of Moringa if you’re pregnant.
Moringa is a healthy plant which has been linked to a wide range of health benefits. Used for thousands of years to treat and prevent various health ailments, Moringa is valued in the modern-day natural health community as a supplement, and has even been elevated to “superfood” status!
It acts as a protection of our body against various diseases because of its high antioxidant content – and may help lower inflammation and cholesterol.
Getting hold of Moringa is easy – you’ll be able to find its extract at your local health foods or natural health store. Alternatively, you can also find Moringa products online – but you should always make sure that you order yours from a reliable source.
Also, you should always make sure that you check with your doctor before beginning to use any health supplement. Even though very few side effects have been reported, a healthcare professional will know whether or not it is safe for you personally.