We’ve already told you about these 10 Superfoods Healthier Than Kale, and now we can add one more to the list: Moringa. Although Moringa oleifera—also known as the drumstick tree—was once eaten by the ancient Romans, Greeks, and Egyptians, only now is it poised to become the next hottest superfood. Native to India and now cultivated all over the tropics, gram for gram, this superfood has seven times the vitamin C of oranges, four times the calcium of milk, and two times the protein of yogurt. Like quinoa, this complete protein provides all eight essential amino acids, making it particularly beneficial for those who don’t eat animal products. Even better: Nearly every part of the moringa tree is edible, leaving nothing to go to waste.
This superfood has been used for hundreds of years in holistic Indian medicine known as Ayurveda to cure or prevent around 300 diseases. More recently, the modern scientific community has begun the process of validating these claims with scientific research. A study in Food and Chemical Toxicology found that the antioxidants in moringa leaf extract could significantly inhibit oxidative DNA damage as well as reduce cancer-causing free-radicals. In addition to being potent in antioxidants, another study in PLOS ONE found that the presence of eugenol, a phenolic compound also found in cinnamon, in both the leaf and bark extract of the moringa tree contributes to anti-malignant properties that could be utilized when developing new drugs for cancer treatment.
Other studies have confirmed moringa’s cholesterol-lowering activities as well as its ability to regulate thyroid hormones and glucose levels—elements that have been known to cause weight gain. While fresh moringa is not widely distributed in Western countries as the food is being used locally to combat hunger and malnutrition, there are supplements and powdered versions that are available in American markets. So forget the kale for a moment and pour a serving of moringa powder into a smoothie to reap its immune-boosting, cancer-fighting benefits.