This month’s miracle green

From the September issue of Details, p. 178, an article (by Courtney Rubin) “The Next Superfood is here”, subtitled “The leaves of the moringa tree may be the world’s most nutritious green – and they’re coming to a health-food store near you”:

From the article:

What’s In It: A recent analysis of the leaves found that moringa contains more vitamin A than carrots, more iron than spinach, and more potassium than bananas. It also packs as much protein as milk or eggs.

Such comparisons are not very helpful, since they’re done by weight, and you’d have to eat an awful lot of moringa leaves to match the weight of carrots, bananas, milk, or eggs. (Spinach would be a better comparison.)

The article says that the fresh leaves of moringa have a “lemony, peppery spinach taste”; they can be eaten in mixed salads or sautéd. Dried moringa powder can be added to smoothies or drinks, or drunk in a tea.

From Wikipedia:

Moringa oleifera (synonym: Moringa pterygosperma) is the most widely cultivated species of the genus Moringa [with a name derived from the Malayalam word for the plant], which is the only genus in the family Moringaceae. English common names include moringa, and drumstick tree, from the appearance of the long, slender, triangular seed pods, horseradish tree, from the taste of the roots which resembles horseradish, or ben oil tree, from the oil derived from the seeds. The tree itself is rather slender, with drooping branches that grow to approximately 10m in height. In cultivation [throughout the tropics], it is often cut back annually to 1–2 meters and allowed to regrow so the pods and leaves remain within arm’s reach.

In developing countries, moringa has potential to improve nutrition, boost food security, foster rural development, and support sustainable landcare. It may be used as forage for livestock

So: a very useful plant, not at all well known in North America and Europe, but probably not a nutritional savior.

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