Moringa Oleifera is a rising star in the world of superfoods. The tiny leaves of this tree may be the world's most nutritious green. As climate change makes rainfall increasingly unpredictable for low-income farmers in the developing world, Moringa will become an important tool for helping communities around the world to take control of their own nutrition.
Known as “the miracle tree” and also often referred to as the drumstick tree because of the way it looks, this drought-resistant and fast-growing tree is native to Southeast Asia but has spread throughout tropical zones in Africa and South America. The trees grow best in areas where it is dry and sandy. They grow quickly and are not easily killed by a lack of water or poor soil.
Between the Red Sea and the Sinai mountains, Habiba Organic Farm is a piece of desert turned into fertile land. Twenty thousand square-meters of Habiba’s land is dedicated to growing crops such as eggplant, fennel, asparagus, oranges, limes, zucchini, dates, corn, tomatoes, figs, mulberries, artichokes, quinoa, olives, okra, Swiss chard, and herbs such as mint, basil, lemon balm and rosemary. Recently at Habiba they have expanded their crop diversity by introducing the Moringa tree. They planted a 3000 square meter field with saplings which will grow to approximately seven meters and be producing harvestable pods in its third growing season. The Moringa tree is ideally suited to the sandy soils of southern Sinai.
The Moringa tree has been around for hundreds of years. Once eaten by the ancient Romans, Greeks and Egyptians, Moringa oleifera leaves have been used in traditional medicine passed down for centuries in many cultures. In the Ayurvedic system of medicine Moringa is said to cure or prevent around 300 diseases. More recently, the modern scientific community has begun to validate many of these claims with over 1300 studies, articles and publications on Moringa. Not only does Moringa have an impressive nutritional profile, but it also has been praised for its ability to purify water.
Moringa Oleifera is an energizing product that helps with healing and medical prevention. It is used for many reasons, skin disorder treatment, diabetes, sleep improvement, relief for anxiety and depression. It can provide a huge boost in energy; it has the ability to regulate your blood sugar levels and it can even help you recover more quickly after a workout. Traditional medicine says that Moringa flower juice can improve human lactation and a tea made of its leaves can fight colds and infections. The fresh leaves help to cure anemia, gastric ulcers and diarrhea, and a paste made of the leaves provides anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory treatment for insect bites, wounds or fungal skin problems. Crushed seeds can aid cramps, rheumatism and arthritis, and be a natural antibiotic.
Various parts of the Moringa are edible. Some people use the pods in cooking, while others eat the leaves, which can be tossed into a salad, blend into smoothies, or be steamed like spinach. The leaves are the best part of the plant because that is where you get high levels of vitamins, like C, A, and B. They can also be dried and used in soups or other recipes. You can additionally press oil from the seeds or eat the roots. The immature green pods (drumsticks) are prepared similarly to green beans, while the seeds are removed from more mature pods and cooked like peas or roasted like nuts. The roots can be diced up and used as a sauce similar to our use for horseradish. The plant also has flowers which are comparable to mushrooms. Another option is to use Moringa powder, either in supplement form or added to smoothies, soups, and other foods for extra nutrition. Moringa powder has a distinctive “green” flavor so you may want to start out slowly when adding it to your meals.
At the Habiba Organic Farm they are also convinced that most of the Moringa plant will benefit the community, its bark, pods and leaves all have useful properties which include making nutritious forage for animals and humans alike. The purpose of the Habiba project is to introduce a tree that can help sustain the community and their animals without costing the earth. With time they hope to show that this tree can provide goats with food which can increase both their body mass and milk production.
Habiba aims to show the Bedouin community in the area that they can transform their land too. First the Bedouins were not eager to change to farming practices. However, having been cut off for months from their main food supplies during the 2011 Revolution now many are following suit and starting to cultivate their own produce. They all benefit from the technical knowhow available at the Habiba Organic Farm.
Fact Box Moringa Tree
Gram for gram, the fresh leaves of the Moringa plant contain:
2 X Protein of yogurt
4 X Vitamin A of carrots
3 X Potassium of Bananas
4 X Calcium of Milk
7 X Vitamin C of oranges
In one serving of Moringa Oleifera leaves, you can find:
22% daily value of Vitamin C
41% daily value of Potassium
61% daily value of Magnesium
71% daily value of Iron
125% daily value of Calcium
272% daily value of Vitamin A
18 Amino Acids, 9 Essential Amino Acids
Moringa Oleifera health benefits:
Boosts energy levels
Improves immune system function
Lowers blood pressure
Protects the stomach lining
Treats stomach ulcers
Sources: habibaorganicfarm.wordpress.com; webmd.com; articles.mercola.com; kulikulifoods.com; treehugger.com; idealbite.com