The Cullman Center Weighs in on Moringa Leaf Protein

Moringa oleifera is a fast-growing, drought-resistant tree cultivated across the lowland dry tropics worldwide for its nutritious leaves. Despite its nutritious reputation, there has been no systematic survey of the variation in leaf nutritional quality across M. oleifera grown worldwide, or of the other species of the genus. These findings identify clear priorities and limitations for improved moringa varieties with traits such as high protein, calcium, or ease of preparation.

Moringa health and economic benefits

Rachel Cernasky’s article looks at "superfood" fads and asks whether they can have benefits, especially to the people who live where they are being produced. Moringa, with its nutrient and nutraceutical profile, might be such a novel plant. And it’s possible that its sale to rich countries may provide a useful cash supplement to tropical communities where it is grown. Cernasky interviewed me for the article, and she reproduces my rule of thumb for the validity of a moringa product: the closer it is to real, fresh, unadulterated, unprocessed moringa leaves, the better.

A Matter of Taste

The ability to detect bitterness probably evolved to help us avoid eating harmful substances. By shunning too many bitter substances, especially those present in healthful foods, we might be putting our long-term health at risk. For example, the glucosinolates in Brussels sprouts and its cousins, broccoli, kale, and other cruciferous vegetables, switch on many healthful processes in our bodies, and many medicines prevent or treat serious illness.