Possible Health Benefits of Moringa
Jessica Migala / April 15, 2022 / Lifestyle Medicine & Nutrition
Moringa leaf, either powdered or dried, is the most common form of the supplement in the United States, says LaVardera. The potential health benefits discussed below involve moringa powder or extract (aka a pill-form supplement), and may apply to whole moringa leaf, though more studies are needed to know for sure.
Moringa supplies a good source of vitamin C, an antioxidant nutrient that supports immune function and collagen production, says LaVardera. She points out that the specific concentrations of nutrients like vitamin C will vary widely between brands. Because the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) does not have the nutritional profile of moringa available on its website, you’ll have to look at the nutrition facts panel of the product that you’re using. For instance, one brand of moringa powder sold by Thrive Market contains 9 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C per ½ teaspoon serving of powdered moringa. Bonus: The C helps the body better absorb iron (in the same serving of moringa, 5 percent of your daily value is covered).
“I consider moringa in the category of functional foods. We eat a lot of these foods for the beneficial plant compounds that you won’t necessarily see reflected on the package,” says LaVardera. One of those major categories? Polyphenols. These are natural compounds within the plant that protect it as it grows, says LaVardera. When you consume those polyphenols in any form, they stimulate antioxidant activity in your own body that neutralizes cell-damaging free radicals. This is helpful for reducing inflammation in the body that underlies chronic disease, she says.
While there are thousands of known polyphenols, there are a few of note in moringa.right up arrow Those include beta-sitosterol, quercetin, and kaemferol, which are compounds that may play a role in reducing cholesterol,right up arrow lowering inflammation,right up arrow and possibly preventing cancer,right up arrow LaVardera notes, citing research.
May Help Prevent Diabetes
In a small study on people who have prediabetes, those who took 2,400 mg of dried moringa leaf powder daily improved fasting blood glucose and A1C levels over 12 weeks better than a placebo, according to a double-blind, randomized trial.right up arrow Moringa is theorized to help regulate enzymes involved in glucose metabolism, possibly due, in part, to the plant’s polyphenols.
Weight Loss Potential of Moringa
One study comparing overweight participants in a placebo group versus those taking an herbal formula, which included moringa leaf extract, found that supplement group lost about 10 pounds more over 16 weeks. All participants followed a calorie-reduced diet and exercised, so keep in mind that that’s likely a critical component to the weight loss of the study participants. In addition, the people in the study did not take moringa alone; curry tree and turmeric extracts were also included in the formula. It’s impossible to say what role moringa specifically played in weight loss.right up arrow
That said, moringa research has not clearly shown that the ingredient directly helps with weight loss, but it may help support your body while you change your habits to reach a healthy body weight, adds Stacie Stephenson, doctor of chiropractic, a functional and integrative medicine practitioner and board member of the American Nutrition Association. “Because moringa reduces inflammation, stabilizes blood sugar, and promotes the breakdown of fat, it could be a useful way to augment your weight loss efforts,” she says.
Moringa won’t do it alone, though. More important is eating a healthful diet overall, getting regular physical activity, and sleeping well.
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