On my last visit to Kerala, I noticed more and more moringa leaves – be it in a friend’s home garden or while dining out. In Sanskrit, moringa is known as shigru – arrow. This is because it has the intelligence to penetrate deep into the tissues and reach the bone tissue, traveling in like an arrow, to mobilize and pull out toxins from the bone, and release them from the body. Often referred to as drumsticks, the seedpods of moringa are commonly used in the savory South Indian dish, sambar. A great staple, sambar is the perfect vegan, ayurvedic meal that can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner, but I digress. (Stay tuned for my favorite recipe for a kickin’ Sambar).
So where were we? Ah yes, moringa…considered quite the superfood, moringa leaves contain:
- 2 times more protein than what is in milk
- 3 times more potassium than a banana
- 3 times the amount of iron found in almonds
- 4 times more calcium than what is in milk
- 7 times more Vitamin C than an orange
- 25 times more iron than in spinach
- 47 different antioxidants
I’m sure you’ve seen it at your local health food shop, moringa powder, made from the leaves of the Moringa oleifera plant, has been revered for its superb nutritious content. This plant is helpful for sleep, the heart, kidneys, liver, blood, and the pancreas. In fact, many health organizations around the world are advocates of growing this plant to help with childhood nutrition, especially in regions where starvation is a serious issue.
According to Ayurveda, moringa is said to have a heating energetic effect, and its taste is heating as well as bitter. The plant has significant detoxifying and cleansing effects, particularly for the blood and fat tissues. Yet moringa has the unique and mysterious effect of also being a tonic at the same time that it is detoxifying. After cleansing, the plant strengthens the heart and blood, for instance, to function optimally. Overall, moringa is said to reduce kapha and vata. It will pacify vata, but only when taken in moderation. Because of the light, dry, sharp qualities it can aggravate vata if used in excess. Use cautiously, with pitta imbalances as it does have a heating effect.
How to Use It
Add moringa powder to your favorite smoothies, shakes or to your breakfast bowl of oatmeal. You can also try taking it more traditionally, i.e., for overall tonic and nutritious benefits, take it with a teaspoon of ghee. For more metabolic benefits, take it with a teaspoon of honey. To help off-set the heat or even the vata-aggravating qualities, take it with a warm glass of milk with some additional honey. Or you may take it with a spoon of aloe vera to more directly assist in offsetting the heating quality.
- It is tridoshic – balancing for vata, pitta, and kapha – however, if you are a high pitta body type, make sure to always cook it with a pitta pacifying masala.
- Do not consume any moringa items or products during pregnancy as it may cause a miscarriage. If you are breastfeeding, you should avoid moringa due to its detoxifying nature, it will make your milk very bitter and unpalatable for your infant.
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