mentioned when introducing Moringa, the plant is being used around the world by
many cultures for a variety of ailments. It is time now to explore and explain
in more detail some of the known and lesser known facts about its medicinal properties,
active compounds, and their effects on humans and animals. Let me start with a
short introduction on medicinal plants and their importance in human health.
medicine is the most ancient form of healthcare known to humankind. Plants as
medicines are mentioned in historic documents dating back many thousands of
years. Since prehistoric times and
continuing to our modern days, people from all over the world have grown or
collected plants for the prevention and treatment of diseases. Moringa Oleifera
is one of the best examples. People have long known that botanical medicine
provided a complete, safe system of healing and prevention of diseases.
The Main Nutritive Groups and Valuable Dietary Compounds in Moringa
- Protein constituents or amino acids ( the building blocks of protein). There are 20 amino acids necessary, and found in human proteins, of which 9 are essential. All 9 are found in Moringa
- Carbohydrates (several of the ggoodh type,
including fibers; about 3-13% in leaves).
- Minerals as microelements such as calcium,
magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, sulfur.
- Minerals as necessary microelements: iron, zinc, copper, manganese.
- Fats, as vegetable oils: fatty acids, beneficial omega-6 oils and liposoluble vitamins.
- Vitamins, many of which with antioxidant
properties: vitamin C, E, F, K, provitamin A(beta-carotene), complex of vitamins B, B1, B2, B3, choline,
- Chlorophyll, the green pigment of plants
(includes magnesium in its molecule).
- Other plant pigments, some with antioxidant
properties: lutein, carotenoids.
- Plant hormones with anti-aging properties in humans: cytokinins such as zeatin.
- Plant specific (phytochemicals)
antioxidants: quercetin, kaempferol and others.
- Plant specific sterols: beta-sitosterol.
Amino Acids in Moringa
Plants are an
important source of proteins, but most plants actually supply the units making
up the proteins – the amino acids. As you know, proteins together with lipids
and carbohydrates are the three basic groups of biochemical substances of which
plant and animal organisms are made. Again, amino acids are the building blocks
or monomers of the proteins (which are long chains of amino acids linked
How Much Protein Do We Need?
recommend that proteins (or amino acids) should account for 10-15% of the
calories in a balanced diet,
although requirements for protein are affected by age, health, weight, and
other factors. Generally, a normal adult requires approximately 0.36 grams of
protein per pound of body weight, or 0.8 grams per kg weight. That makes a
total of 50-80 grams daily. Athletes have higher amino acid (protein)
requirements, and babies need much more protein per body weight than do adults.
digested by the gastro-intestinal system and then cut into smaller, simpler
units (amino acids) that can be absorbed through the walls of the intestines
and used by the body. After absorption, the liver and various tissues will make
their own, specifically needed proteins. Thousands and thousands of complicated
proteins make up the structure of cell walls, and the soluble particles in
blood or less soluble structures of bone and skin. Proteins interact with each
other and specifically recognize each other in order to perform all our physiological
functions. Life can be seen as a complicated and beautiful gdance of proteinsh!
since proteins and other nitrogen-containing substances are continuously
degraded and rebuilt, they must be replaced by a continuous supply of amino
acids from the diet.
There are 20 amino
acids present in the human bodyfs structures. (Actually, in nature there are
more amino acids). Of those, 9 are known to be ESSENTIAL; they have to be
supplied by the diet since the human body cannot synthesize them, as it does with
the other 11 amino acids. Few foods, like Moringa, are known to contain all
essential amino acid, hence, the importance of a complex, rich diet. The 9
essential amino acids are: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lycine, methonine,
phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine. Histidine is considered
essential for children and babies, not for adult. Strict vegetarians should
ensure that their diet contains sufficient amounts of all these amino acids.
Moringa is one of the very few plants that contain all
the essential amino acids,
although two of them, lysine and tryptophan, are poorly represented in most
plants. Moringa's essential amino acids presence and digestibility scores are
more than adequate when measured against the standards of World Health Organization
(WHO), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and United Nations Organization
(UNO) for small children, the most at-risk population group when it comes to
protein in food..
Essentials Amino Acids Composition in Proteins of
Moringa (leaves) and Soy (protein isolate)
Essential Amino Acid
2-5 year old child
| Methionine + Cystine
| Phenylalanine + Tyrosine
Introducing The Essential Amino Acids of Moringa and Briefly Explain Their Importance for Human Health.
Histidine - Moringa leaves contain histidine, a semi-essential amino acid - adult generally
produce adequate amounts but children usually may not. It is believed that
histidine may increase the bodys resistance to environmental toxins and
allergens (factors that trigger allergies in susceptible persons). Since
histidine found abundantly in hemoglobin - the respiratory pigment protein
needed for oxygen transportation to every cell – histidine aids in
the prevention of anemia.
Histidine is also a mild vasodilator and helps increase blood
circulation. According to some research, people with rheumatoid arthritis have
low levels of histidine; therefore it has been used in the treatment of
rheumatoid arthritis. A deficiency of histidine can also cause poor of hearing.
Since histidine is found in numerous proteins, its presence is needed for
normal general physiology.
Isoleucine - Moringa contains isoleucine in large amounts. Its main role in the body
is related to its incorporation into many proteins and enzymes. This is
one of the essential amino acids needed for hemoglobin formation, as is
histidine. Therefore, its presence is useful for the prevention or treatment
of anemia. Isoleucine plays a role in optimal growth during childhood;babies
and children need much more isoleucine per body weight than adults!
It also maintains normal blood sugar and energy levels and
therefore it is particularly important for diabetics. Isoleucine
is metabolized in muscle tissue and can enhance energy levels and increase
endurance. Athletes and everyone exercising regularly need extra isoleucine.
Leucine - This is another essential amino acid related to
isoleucine and valine, all vital for normal growth
in children. Moringa contains
large amounts of leucine as well. These three amino acids work together to
protect muscles, build muscles, and enhance energy levels and stamina. They
also promote bone, skin and muscle tissue healing and therefore are recommended
for those recovering from injuries, stress or surgery.Leucine may help to
lower elevated blood sugar levels, which is important for diabetics. For normal
growth, small children and babies need much more leucine per body weight than
adults. Leucine also aids in increasing growth hormone production.
Lysine - Lysine is required for normal growth and development in children, who
need vast amounts of this amino acids. Although plant
sources are usually poor in lysine.Moringa leaves are
quite rich in this essential amino acid. Lysine helps calcium absorption and
bone development, and maintains proper protein balance. Lysine also aids in the
production of antibodies[
protective proteins of the immune system], hormones and enzymes, in skin
maintenance and formation, and tissue repair .Since it helps to build muscle
protein, lysine is necessary for those recovering from stress, injuries and
surgery. In people with bad
serum fats and high cholesterol, lysine lowers high serum triglyceride levels.
Another useful quality of lysine is its capacity to inhibit the multiplication
of viruses, especially herpes viruses.
Methionine and Cystine - These are important sulfur-containing amino acids.
Cystine is the stable form of the sulfur-containing amino acid cysteine. The
body readily converts one into the other as needed, therefore the two forms can be considered as a single
amino acid in metabolism. Sulfur-containing amino acids are involved in
detoxification of the organism; they help to neutralize and eliminate harmful
toxins and protect the body against radiation damage caused by UV rays and x-rays .They are free radical destroyers, and work
best when taken with selenium and
vitamin E ( see "Antioxidants in Moringa" ). Cystine helps to protect the river and brain from damage due
to toxics such as alcohol , drugs, and environmental pollutants.
and cystine are main constituents of the proteins of fingernails, skin and
hair; they promote proper elasticity and texture of the skin and hair. Ladies,
real beauty comes from the inside, and sulfurcontaining amino acids must surely
be ingredients of any diet that fights skin aging!
may have anti-inflammatory properties that can be helpful in the treatment of
osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Cystine and metheonine are recommended
to be supplemented in the treatment of some forms of cancer. These two amino
acids also promote wound healing; therefore they are helpful after surgery and
burns. They are known to bind iron, aiding in iron absorption. For those
interested in losing weight, it is worth mentioning that cystine also promotes
the burning of fat and the building of muscle.
Phenylalanine and Tyrosine - These two essential amino acids, well
represented in Moringa leaves, are particularly important for the health of the
central nervous system. Once in the body, phenylalanine can be converted into
tyrosine, which in turn is used to synthesize two key brain transmitters that
promote alertness: dopamine and norepinephrine. These two amino acids –
phenylalanine and tyrosine – can therefore elevate mood, decrease pain, help
with memory and even suppress appetite.
and tyrosine should be supplemented in the treatment of depression, arthritis,
obesity and Parkinsons disease. Phenylalanine is effective for controlling
pain, especially the chronic pain in osteoarthritis and rheumatoids arthritis,
according to some studies. Similar to other amino acids, these two are
incorporated in a variety of proteins throughout the body.
Threonine - Threonine is also very well represented in Moringa,
although its content is usually low in many grains and other plant protein
sources. This amino acid is important for the formation of collagen and
elastin, two main proteins of the skin. It also helps to protect the liver and
has a lipotropic function (against fatty liver). Threonine is present in high concentrations in the heart,
central nervous system and skeletal muscle. It maintains their health and
normal functions. It also enhances the immune system by aiding in the
production of antibodies, and promotes thymus (a gland vital for the function
of the immune system) growth and related activity. Other vital nutrients are
also better absorbed when threonine is presen in the food. Some use threonine
supplements in certain cases of depression. Infants need much more (8 times)
threonine per body weight than adults.
Tryptophan- An essential amino acid, tryptophan is required for
the production of niacin ( vitamin B3) and serotonin (the neurotransmitter
involved in relaxation and sleep) among others. Therefore, tryptophan helps to
control depression and insomnia, stabilizes emotional moods, and it also eases
perception of pain, and might combat inflammation. It also aids to control
hyperactivity in children and alleviates stress. Although tryptophan is the
rarest of all amino acids to be found in proteins composition, it plays an
important role in reducing stress-related mood disorders, and helps relaxation
and good sleep! We all need some extra tryptophan sometimes! Supplements of
tryptophan are not approved in the USA, so, when needed, we have to get it from
food. Moringa is an excellent plant source of tryptophan, and its concentration
in the leaves exceeds the concentration in soy beans. Since some migraine
sufferers have abnormally low levels of tryptophan, it is believed that
tryptophan can also ease the pains as sociated with certain types of migraines.
Valine - unlike tryptophan, valine has a stimulant effect. It is needed for
muscle metabolism and structure, general tissue repair and the maintenance of a
high concentrations in muscles, similar to related amino acids, isoleucine and
leucine. These three branched-chain amino acids can be used as an energy source
by muscle tissue, thus preserving the use of glucose and supplying stamina.
Studies have shown that these amino acids are useful in restoring muscle mass
in people with liver disease, or after physical stress, injuries and surgery.
Moringa leaves are at least as rich (if not more) as soy beans (and soy protein
concentrate) in valine.
Moringa is one of the very few plant sources that
contain all 9 essential amino acids.
Moringas essential amino acids presence and digestibility
are as good as soy (one of the best protein sources). Soy is often a highly
processed product while Moringa is presented in its natural state.
Moringas essential amino acids presence and
digestibility are better than those required by the standards of WHO, FAO and
UNO. Moringa, even in small portions, provides adequate amounts of protein
nutrients for everyone, including healthy or medically compromised individuals,
children, senior adults, lactose intolerant individuals, vegetarians and people
with soy allergies.
Moringa is not genetically modified or altered by
Moringa is considered to have the highest protein
ratio of any plant so far identified!
|Comparison of Various Calcium-rich Food Source
|Yogurt, low fat
Moringa has a substancial content of vital macro and
microelements such as calcium, iron and sulfur, all absolutely necessary for
Humans do not produce minerals, therefore
they all must be provided from food.
Moringa leaves contain calcium in
quantities similar to cheese,
and far higher than most plants.
Moringa leaves are very rich in iron in comparison
with spinach and other plants.
Moringa also contains important microelements such as manganese and
|Sources of Vitamin B1
||Vitamin B1 (mg)
|Black beans (boiled)
|Red meat (cooked)
|Soy beans (cooked)
|Moringa leaf powder
|Beta-Carotene Content and Corresponding Vitamin A Equivalents in Various Foods
absolutely essential for growth and maintenance of a healthy life.
Most vitamins are
not produced by our bodies, therefore they must be supplied by the diet.
Moringa is rich in
many vitamins, particularly in vitamin C, provitamin A (beta-carotene) Vitamins
B1 and E. these abundant vitamins in Moringa exceed those commonly found in
most other plants.
Many of the
vitamins in Moringa have powerful antioxidant and anti-aging properties.
A healthful diet,
including plenty of fruits and vegetables is the best and safest source of