If we’re playing a game of word association, what do you think of when you hear the word superfood? Chances are you think kale—which is totally understandable, since it’s arguably the HBIC of the health food movement. But what if we told you that wellness and beauty experts alike are touting a new plant as an even better alternative to everyone’s favorite leafy green?
That would be moringa—and given how much buzz it’s gotten lately, it may already be on your radar. But unlike many trendy superfoods that come and go, moringa’s hype is warranted, which gives the plant major staying power. Similar in looks and taste to matcha, it boasts a nutritional profile that’s simply off the charts.
So how and why should you include moringa in your daily routine? Keep reading to find out the specifics.
Moringa is a plant native to parts of West Africa, South Asia, and South America. It’s drought tolerant, which makes it a cheap, widely available source of complete nutrition for many developing countries. (It’s even been nicknamed “The Miracle Tree.”) Nutrition experts are actually working to promote moringa as a food staple for people who live in those areas. The plant consists of pods, seeds, and leaves.
To best illustrate this, let’s see how it stacks up against kale, gram for gram: Moringa leaves have twice the protein, 97 times the vitamin B2, and six times the iron. And if you want to forget kale for a second, consider this—it also touts seven times the vitamin C found in oranges, four times the calcium of milk, twice the protein of yogurt, and three times the potassium of bananas.
Those are impressive specs, though nutritionist Dana James points out that you probably wouldn’t eat the same number of grams of moringa as you would, say, yogurt, since you’d have to consume a lot of leaves to match that density. “Where morniga really gets its punch is from its energetic and vibrational properties,” she argues. “It helps to increase vitality and strengthen the adrenals, which supports the body’s stress response.” Preliminary studies also show that the plant can help with conditions ranging from diabetes to heart disease.
It’s actually more common to drink it—the plant is usually ground into a powder, which you can steep as a tea or mix into other beverages. It has an earthy, grassy taste—kind of similar to matcha, but with nuttier notes.
“I recommend people use it like matcha green tea,” suggests James. “Add it to warmed almond milk with a teaspoon of raw honey and cinnamon. Or, drop it into a green smoothie for an enhanced energy boost. Play with it and see which ones your body and brain prefer.”
Nope—though we’d highly recommend it! Because of its high antioxidant content, moringa is also a popular skincare and haircare ingredient of late. Studies actually show that extracts from the plant can help combat sun damage and free radicals, leading to a revitalized complexion.
Have you tried moringa yet? Have we convinced you? Sound off in the comments below!