Moringa oleifera is a fast-growing, drought resistant tree of the family Moringaceae, native to tropical and subtropical regions of South Asia. Common names include moringa drumstick tree (from the long, slender, triangular seed-pods), horseradish tree (from the taste of the roots, which resembles horse radish ) , and ben oil tree or benzoil tree (from the oil which is derived from the seeds).
It is widely cultivated for its young seed pods and leaves, used as vegetables and for traditional herbal medicine. It is also used for water purification.
Moringa is regarded as a “miracle plant” and it’s beans and leaves as “ super foods ”. There are numerous articles on the internet expounding the health benefits of the plant and it’s produce.
Many parts of moringa are edible, with regional uses varying widely.
The leaves are the most nutritious part of the plant, being a significant source of B vitamins, vitamin C, provitamin A as a beta-carotene, vitamin K, manganese and protein. When compared with common foods particularly high in certain nutrients per 100 g fresh weight, cooked moringa leaves are considerable sources of these same nutrients. The leaves are cooked and used like spinach. They are also commonly dried for use as a herbal tea and crushed into a powder for use as a traditional herbal medicine or supplement, popular in Western countries such as US and Europe.
Immature seed pods, called “drumsticks”, are commonly consumed as a vegetable in South Asia ( India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Laos, Yunnan province in China ). They are prepared by boiling and cooked in a curry until soft. The seed pods, even when cooked by boiling, remain particularly high in vitamin C and are a good source of dietary fibre, potassium, magnesium and manganese.
Mature seeds yield 38–40% edible oil called ben oil from its high concentration of behenic acid. The refined oil is clear and odorless, and resists rancidity. The seed cake remaining after oil extraction may be used as animal feed or fertiliser or as a flocculent to purify water. Moringa seed oil also has potential for use as a biofuel.
Moringa oil is gaining popularity in the cosmetic industry due to it’s excellent anti-aging benefits. It is also known for it’s antiseptic and anti inflammatory properties in curing acne and removing black heads.
Moringa oil is also being used in shampoos for hair care due to it’s moisturising benefits and nutrients to strengthen hair follicles.