Move aside, goji and açaí! There's a newcomer on the block that deserves some serious attention.
Moringa oleifera is a rising star in the world of superfoods. This drought-resistant and fast-growing tree is native to Southeast Asia but has spread throughout tropical zones in Africa and South America. In 2008 the National Institutes of Health named moringa “the Plant of the Year.”
Not only does moringa have an impressive nutritional profile, but it also has been praised for its ability to purify water and make it potable, for its many uses in traditional Ayurvedic medicine where it has the reputed ability to cure 300 diseases (many of which have been verified recently by the scientific community), and for the food security and improved nutrition it provides to impoverished and malnourished communities.
Moringa packs a lot into its unassuming leaves and seeds, which are eaten as vegetables or ground into a green powder (that looks a lot like matcha). It contains 9 essential amino acids, 27 vitamins, 46 antioxidants, and many minerals. Gram for gram, the fresh leaves of the moringa plant contain:
Traditional medicine says that moringa flower juice can improve human lactation and a tea made of its leaves can fight colds and infections. The fresh leaves help to cure anemia, gastric ulcers and diarrhea, and a paste made of the leaves provides anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory treatment for insect bites, wounds or fungal skin problems. Crushed seeds can aid cramps, rheumatism and arthritis, and be a natural antibiotic.
Kuli Kuli Foods is a company that sells moringa food products to the United States market through a number of stores, including Whole Foods. It sources moringa from women-owned, fair trade, small-scale farming cooperatives in Ghana and Haiti. Kuli Kuli carefully manages its supply chain to ensure that only a portion of moringa gets exported to other foreign markets, always leaving enough for local markets.
Are you curious to try moringa? In order to raise the new superfood’s profile, Kuli Kuli has launched a food contest in conjunction with celebrity chef José Andres and his humanitarian organization, ‘World Central Kitchen.’ Until September 1, you can create a recipe using pure moringa vegetable powder and post it on Instagram. Name and tag with #MoringaInspired and #YourCity. Chef Andres will judge the top 10 entries and you could win a trip to Washington, D.C. to eat at his restaurant.