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What do we know about moringa, nebedai in Wolof, Jambo in Mandinka and binebeddai in Jola?

What do we know about moringa, nebedai in Wolof, Jambo in Mandinka and binebeddai in Jola?

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The plant moringa oleifera is very popular (locally known as ‘Nebedai’) in the Senegambia region where it exists principally in scattered uncultivated forms. It is mainly consumed in various forms as food in the region although a few useful extra-culinary attributes have been suggested.

Health benefits of moringa seeds

Moringa seeds are a potentially incredible find, with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and cholesterol-lowering effects listed among some of their benefits. Moringa seeds also offer many nutritional benefits. They contain:

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Seven times more vitamin C than oranges; Four times the amount of vitamin A found in carrots; Four times more calcium than milk; Three times more potassium than bananas; and Two times more protein than yogurt.

If research pans out, it’s possible that the moringa tree (also known as the drumstick tree) and its seeds will become a new superfood.

Why eating moringa seeds

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The moringa plant has been eaten by indigenous cultures worldwide for over 4,000 years. Moringa is a nutrient-dense plant, rich in calcium, iron, vitamins, and essential amino acids that are found in other complete proteins such as quinoa and meat. Moringa can benefit the body in many ways including improved energy, sleep, blood pressure level, blood sugar level, hair, and skin, to name a few.

In Ayurveda, moringa leaves are believed to prevent over 300 diseases and are used all the time in traditional healing. Moringa comes from Moringa oleifera, a fast-growing tree found in South Asia and throughout the tropics. The tree is hardy and thrives even in rough growing conditions, so it can be planted almost anywhere and harvested in a short time. It’s been used as a nutritional enhancement in developing countries such as Malawi, Senegal, and India because of its rapid growth rate and year-round harvest.

The following table is a breakdown of the nutritional information for moringa seeds, per 100 grams. Two key values to note are that these seeds have zero cholesterol and are very high in fiber, which can make them essential to a healthy food regimen.

7 health benefits of moringa seeds

The following are just a few of the health benefits associated with moringa seeds.  More research is happening every year on the medicinal value of moringa; we have only just begun to understand how potentially powerful moringa tree seeds are.

1.Lowers blood pressure

High blood pressure is a serious cardiovascular issue that can lead to heart attacks and stroke if it isn’t managed. Medications are sometimes necessary, but the ideal route if possible is through exercise, a healthy lifestyle and diet, and proper supplementation. While studies have shown that moringa can lower blood pressure, these studies are preliminary and more research needs to be done on humans, so talk to your doctor before stopping any prescribed treatment for high blood pressure.

2.Acts as a sleep aid

For a good night’s rest, steep moringa leaves in hot water for 15 minutes and then drink before bed. It will help you sleep soundly, which in turn will leave you energized to tackle the day.

3.   Boosts energy

A single serving of moringa has almost three times the amount of iron as spinach. This is especially important for vegetarians/vegans and those who suffer from low iron issues, as the body needs iron to enrich the blood and carry oxygen to our muscles, organs, and tissues.

4.   Lowers blood sugar levels

A 2014 study published in Acta Histochemical reported that moringa seeds can lower blood sugar levels, which would provide therapeutic management (or even prevention) of diabetes. However, the study was done on lab rats and research is needed on humans before any recommendations can be made.

5.High in fiber

Moringa is high in fiber, and as a result it can do a great job of moving food along your digestive system. Fibber is also a key component in maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system.

6. Can lower cholesterol

Too much cholesterol in the blood has been linked to heart disease. In traditional Thai medicine, moringa is used as a cardio tonic (a drug or herb used to improve how the heart contracts). Some plants have been known to reverse bad cholesterol and research is showing that moringa is among them.

7. Promotes healthy, beautiful skin

The oil extracted from the seeds contains almost 30 antioxidants. The skin absorbs the oil well and can receive these nourishing antioxidants easily. The oil can be used as a moisturizer and antiseptic.

Ways to use moringa and moringa seeds

Many parts of the moringa plant are edible, but how to eat moringa seeds, that’s the question. The pods (7) are often used in cooking (though you won’t likely have a chance to have moringa in this form in North America at the moment unless you grow your own tree). The leaves are used more readily.

The moringa oleifera variously known as drumstick tree, etc. has been systematically investigated during the last three years at ITC. The moringa plant is well known for its enormous biomass production and it promises to be the plant of the future. Although not completely strange in the West African biosphere, this grossly underexploited plant has a lot to offer as a food and fodder resource in the sub-region.

Infertility has been a global challenge and there is lots of treatment: some good, some failed, some ineffective. Research from various labs has shown that natural herbal medicines can be applied to cure both male and female infertility, one of which is Moringa.

Considering the ago-ecological characteristics of the sub-region in general and The Gambia in particular, the plant needs to be further investigated and modalities of integration into the farming system carefully conducted on the merits of the respective locations.

Moringa herbal medicine has been discovered to be very rich in: minerals, antioxidants, high protein density and vitamins: Vitamin A (beta carotene), Vitamin B1 (Thiamine), Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B3 (Niacin), Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine), Vitamin B7 (Biotin), Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid), Vitamin D (Cholecalciferol), Vitamin E (Tocopherol) and Vitamin K and good cholesterol.

The breakdown of the nutrients was further analyzed:

Calcium equivalent: 4 glasses of milk, Vitamin C equivalent: 7 oranges

Potassium equivalent: 3 bananas which is 3 times the iron of spinach

4 times the amount of vitamin A in carrots, 2 times the protein in milk

Moringa, the multi-purpose super food with endless health benefits

What is particularly unique about moringa is the fact that every part of the plant, including its bark, leaves, flowers, and roots serves a unique purpose in promoting human health. Its seeds, for instance, contain up to 40 percent of a non-drying, edible oil known as “Ben Oil” that is rich in antioxidants and similar in its nutritional profile to olive oil. The clear, sweet, odorless oil also has an indefinite shelf life, as it does not turn rancid like many other oils.

“The leaves, flowers, seeds, pods, roots, bark, gum, and seed oil from the moringa (malunggay) plant are continually being subjected to intensive research and development programs because the various constituents of the moringa are known to have, among other properties, anti-diabetic, anti-hypertensive, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-viral, anti-parasitic and anti-aging activities.”

Perhaps the most utilized component of Moringa is its leaves, which can be dried and ground up into a nutrient-dense, tart-flavored powder. According to another report in the Manila Bulletin, Moringa powder contains seven times the amount of vitamin C typically found in oranges, four times the amount of vitamin A in carrots, 36 times the amount of magnesium in eggs, 25 times the amount of iron in spinach, 50 times the amount of vitamin B3 in peanuts, and 50 times the vitamin B.

Like Ben Oil, moringa leaf powder does not spoil, which makes it an excellent long-term survival food. Particularly in developing countries, moringa powder provides nutritional sustenance at a level unparalleled by most other food plants. And because moringa seeds can grow to full-size, harvestable trees in as few as 65 days, the moringa plant is a highly-sustainable source of food that is virtually unmatched in its viability and usefulness.

Processes involved

1.   Making herbal tonic: Get the extracts of five to ten drumstick flowers by boiling

2.   Mix 1 with a cup of cow milk.

3.   To sweeten the mixture, add 1 teaspoon of sugar.

This process should span between a week and a month while tests should be carried out for changes or improvements. The resulting tonic can cure infertility of both males and females.

Also, additional facts for men suffering from erectile dysfunction: making a soup out of moringa drumstick seeds mixed with a bit of pepper and ginger. The bark of the moringa tree is turned into powder and when taken internally improves semen quality.

The moringa tree with its edible leaves, flowers, and pods are one of most power packed, nutritious trees in the world. It is also one of the most healing trees in the world. The entire tree is either used for food, medicine, or cooking. It has been used in Ayurveda medicine for hundreds of years to both prevent and treat almost 300 diseases.

The information in this article is not based on double blind research but on the historical and current usage of moringa leaves, flowers, and pods in India, and many other countries. This is how the people have used it in the past and how they use it now. Much of this information was observed and documented in the different health projects by physicians in their treatment of AIDS, malnutrition, and disease.

For further information, email to azadehhassanmd10gmail.com, send text messages only to WhatsApp Dr Azadeh 002207774469.

Dr Hassan Azadeh MD, senior lecturer at the University of The Gambia, clinical director at the Medicare Health Services.

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