Lately I have been wondering why, why it has taken so long for Moringa to be noticed by western cultures and for those cultures to become interested in adopting the plant for use in their diets. In most of its 26 years Trees for Life has been a proponent of the Moringa Tree. During this time we have seen it spread to numerous countries in the plus or minus 10 degree belt of the equator where it thrives. Internationally, there are now hundreds of Moringa organizations and networks around the world with thousands of members dedicated to the planting, growth and consumption of the Moringa tree.
In “developed” countries in Europe and the US awareness of the Moringa tree really started to expand after the Discovery Channel aired its special documentary approximately 10 years ago. That prompted numerous articles in newspapers and magazines. Within the past couple of years the expansion of the internet and social media sites which now have daily postings of Moringa updates from around the world attest to the public awareness of Moringa. On Earth Day 2008 the National Institute of Health (NIH) named Moringa as plant of the year. In naming the Moringa as plant of the year NIH again pointed out the great nutritional benefits of the Moringa tree: 7 times the vitamin C of oranges, 4 times the calcium of milk, and twice the protein of yogurt and all of the antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents the body requires plus all essential amino acids.
So, where am I going with this? In about this same time period the Journal of the American College of Nutrition published a research article noting the changes in USDA Food Composition Data for 43 Garden Crops. The article mentions considerable loss of nutrient levels in the 43 garden crops over a 50 year period but an even greater loss in farming crops such as wheat, corn and rice. The authors (Davis, Epp and Riordan) stated, “refined sugars, separated fats and oils and white flour and rice have all suffered losses much greater and broader than the losses suggested here for garden crops …. thus, for those concerned about nutrient losses, the most important measure is to partly replace these known-depleted staples with more nutrient-dense whole foods, especially vegetables, fruits, whole grains and nuts”. It has also been published in articles that in the past 40 years our average adult caloric intake has gone from 1500 calories a day in the 1970’s to over 3600 a day in 2010 in this country (NIH). We have become a nation, over-fed and under-nourished; with a national obesity problem that is having a growing an economic and health impact on our society.
To me one of the best solutions is Moringa. Monica G. Marcu, Phar.D., Ph.D., points out in Moringa: An Introduction, in looking at what Moringa would bring to the Westerners’ Table: “Concentrated vitamins, minerals, all necessary protein constituents, beneficial fats, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory substances, all in a readily absorbable form and easy to digest = an energy food. Tasty but with very little sugar and salt”. Moringa is as Dr. Marcu points out is a “super-food”, it is unique because in even small amounts it can supply all of the vital nutrients the body needs with very few calories. This may be starting to sound like a commercial “lose weight – feel great” use Moringa. In reality Moringa does offer the western diet a nutritional balance that is too often missing.