Malunggay”, The Unheard of Plant

College of DuPage Nursing  Student Caryl Duenas-Rozanski shared with Healthy Lombard that you may know or eat various kinds of vegetables that are popular for their nutritional benefits. Vegetables like spinach, kale, potatoes, corns, green beans, and carrots are often served at the dinner table in North America.

However, have you heard about malunggay? Since it does not grow in trees here in the United States, it is not well known, but it can be bought in health stores in the form of powder, tea bags, leaves, and capsules.

Growing up in the Philippines, it is common to have malunggay growing in your backyard and to eat it as part of your everyday diet. My hometown community included this plant as part of the daily diet. This plant is convenient, beneficial, economical, and right from your backyard garden.  It is also considered medicinal. The juice extract can be used for cuts and burns. The village elders use it as an ointment for healing.  The new mothers were offered malunggay tea and soup to promote milk production.

What is this super green leafy vegetable called malunggay from my native country? “The scientific name for Malunggay is Moringa oleifera Lam (Moringaceae) is a highly valued plant, distributed in many countries of the tropics and subtropics.” (Anwar et al., 2007)

It has a superb scope of medicinal benefits with high nutritional value. Mbikay states in his research that “different parts of this plant contain important minerals, and are a good source of protein, vitamins, beta-carotene, amino acids, and various phenolics.” He goes on to state “the leaves are particularly rich in potassium, calcium, phosphorous, iron, vitamins A and D, essential amino acids, as well as such known antioxidants such as β-carotene, vitamin C, and flavonoids.”. According Mbikay “M. oleifera is especially important for its medicinal value.”

“Various parts of this plant such as the leaves, roots, seed, bark, fruit, flowers and immature pods act as cardiac and circulatory stimulants, possess antitumor, antipyretic, antiepileptic, anti-inflammatory, antiulcer, antispasmodic, diuretic, antihypertensive, cholesterol lowering, antioxidant, antidiabetic, hepatoprotective, antibacterial and antifungal activities, and are being employed for the treatment of different ailments in the indigenous system of medicine, particularly in South Asia.” (Anwar et al., 2007)

It is unlikely that people who do not travel to Southeast Asia know about malunggay. Why is it not well popularized by nutritionists in North America? More studies need to be done about this miracle plant. If it is as good as claimed, it should be included in our diet.

 

 

References

 

Anwar F., Latif S., Ashraf M., Gilani A.H., (2007). Moringa oleifera: a food plant with multiple medicinal uses https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17089328/

 

 

Mbikay M., (2012).  Therapeutic potential of Moringa oleifera leaves in chronic hyperglycemia and dyslipidemia: a review https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphar.2012.00024/full

 

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