Our lolas know about moringa. It should be a superfood.
Filipino folk remedies
I haven’t visited our province for several years now (well, okay, it’s been over a decade). I mean to remedy that soon. It would be wonderful to touch base again with my relatives based there. It would also be wonderful to continue to learn as much as I can about local culture and traditions, including traditional health treatments.
A story in particular about the home remedies of my lola‘s (Filipino for grandmother) sister intrigues me no end. It is said that whenever one of her kids falls ill, she just goes to their backyard and gathers a few herbs to treat the illness with. My lola‘s sister is now in her 90s, and I wish to chat with her about some of these treatments. Wouldn’t it be a shame if her knowledge doesn’t get passed down?
By the way, let me just say this one thing about traditional medicine: it is not a bad thing. In fact, I find it in line with the growing organic, all-natural movement. It doesn’t solve every ailment, but I think that some of its solutions – such as concocting ginger brew for sore throats – are valid. Western medicine has its rightful place, and so does traditional medicine.
Anyway, my musings about Filipino folk remedies and local herbs and vegetables reminded me of the moringa (malunggay in Filipino) stalks growing in our backyard. I love food that is convenient, affordable, healthy, and tasty, and this plant definitely makes the cut.
Moringa should be a superfood
Malunggay/ moringa (scientific name: moringa oleifera) is cheap and can be planted almost everywhere. It’s also hella nutritious. Bonus: the taste is subtle so picky eaters can’t use that as an excuse, haha. Our lolas were on to something when they started using it as a cooking and home remedy ingredient. Check out some of the health benefits of malunggay/ moringa according to the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development:
One hundred grams or one cup of cooked malunggay/ moringa leaves has
- 3.1 grams protein
- 0.6 grams fiber
- 96 mg calcium
- 29 mg phosphorus
- 1.7 mg iron
- 2,820 mg beta-carotene
- 0.07 mg thiamin
- 0.14 mg riboflavin
- 1.1 mg niacin
- 53 mg ascorbic acid (Vitamin C)
Compared to equivalent amounts in weight of other types of food, malunggay/ moringa has
- 7 times more Vitamin C than oranges,
- 4 times more calcium and 2 times more protein than milk,
- 4 times more Vitamin A than carrots, and
- 3 times more potassium than bananas.
* Data from a research study conducted by Dr. Lydia Marero of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) of the Philippines.
Great, right? A popular way of cooking moringa in the Philippines is by incorporating it as an ingredient in tinolang manok (a chicken broth dish). You can be creative as you want to be, though, and experiment using it in smoothies and pastries.
Moringa dietary supplement
Not-so-fun fact: I love vegetables but I don’t eat enough of them. 🙁 That’s why I’ve taken to supplementing my vegetable intake with malunggay/ moringa capsules daily. It’s not the best situation in the universe, but I sure hope it helps, nutrition-wise. Caveat: as with all supplements, this one has no approved therapeutic claims. It’s still best to check with your doctor if you can take such products.
I can’t wait to visit my Mom’s hometown again!!
What about you? Do you like moringa/ malunggay? What dishes or juices do you use it with? See you in two weeks!
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June 21, 2017 update: I am not affiliated with the company manufacturing the moringa dietary supplement featured here. Its mention is an FYI. Also, I just read articles that posited that supplements aren’t as effective as they’re touted to be. Honestly, I’m still on the fence about this, so please apply due diligence before taking anything. As always, consult your doctor for any health concerns.
Health information from the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development.
Read my blog’s full disclosure and disclaimer here.