Have you ever been to the tropics? If so, chances are you have already seen a moringa tree. It's a conspicuous vegetable tree that can grow up to 10 meters tall. Most of the time, though, the tree's cultivated and trimmed down to about 1 meter in height so that its small, roundish leaves and "drumstick" immature pods can be easily harvested.
Moringa (scientific name Moringa oleifera ) is native to north-western India. It is a relatively fast-growing tree that is highly tolerant to drought. Nowadays, moringa is common in tropical regions, like Central and South America, tropical Africa, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. The plant is easy to cultivate and requires little maintenance. Because it has highly nutritious parts, Moringa oleifera has been hailed as a cheap, yet effective means to counter the rampant malnutrition in the tropics. During the so-called "Green Revolution" in the Philippines, Imelda Marcos, the lavish former first lady of the Philippines, urged backyard planting of moringa trees. It has been more than twenty years ago since a shamed Imelda left the presidential palace with her dictator husband, her influence in Philippine society and politics grounded to an absolute zero. Yet, she has somehow left her mark with the moriga campaign--moringa trees can be seen in virtually all villages in the country. We can say that Filipinos fell in love with Moringa oleifera.
What made Filipinos love this seemingly ordinary looking plant? There's no mysterious something here. The answer's simple: it is nutritious.
Perhaps only the famed kale leaf can rival the nutrient content of a moringa leaf. Yet, moringa leaf is a super-food in its own right. Scientific studies show that moringa's leaves contain significant amounts of vitamins A, B and C, calcium, iron and protein. If you match moringa leaves with your traditional power-food, you may be surprised with the big, big difference. For instance, a gram of this strange looking plant has seven times more vitamin C than a gram of orange. Its calcium content is four times greater than milk. Who said carrots is the best for your eyesight? A gram of M. oleifera leaf contains four times vitamin A than a gram of your crunchy carrot.
Moringa pods are perhaps the most commonly consumed part of the plant due to its tasty nature. Immature pods are a culinary delight and taste like asparagus. The pods' dried seeds, on the other hand, can be roasted into a wonderful snack. Moringa pods are not just delicious: they are definitely nutrient-laden, too. Research revealed that the pods have numerous essential amino acids, vitamins, and other nutrients. Also, moringa pods produce copious amount of non-drying edible Ben oil. Clear, sweet, and odor-less, Ben oil has the reputation of staying fresh and has a nutritional value that can be compared to olive oil.
With some shrubs and trees, the flower is just a decorative part. The amazing thing with a moringa plant is that its flowers are edible and a rich source of nutrients. The flowers can be mixed with other vegetables, fried in batter, or thrown into a soup. It's not an exaggeration to call it a super-flower since researchers have discovered that it is rich in potassium and calcium