PLANTS OF KENYA
19-03-2021 di redazione
Moringa: the tree of life, the miracle tree or even the immortal plant.
It is a member of the Moringaceae family, of which at least 13 species are known, ranging from those that grow as full-fledged trees that can reach ten metres to simple shrubs.
Moringa Oleifera is the most economically valuable species and is native to South Asia, where it grows at the foot of the Himalayas, but is widely cultivated in all tropical areas. In eastern Ethiopia, northern Kenya and Somalia, there are nine species, eight of which are endemic to Africa.
It is a drought-tolerant plant that can grow and resist very harsh conditions and retain fluids and nutrients in the event of excessive water shortage. In Africa and Kenya, where it grows without problem, people classify it as one of the "nebedies", i.e. trees that never die.
It is a nutraceutical (a syncratic neologism from "nutrition" and "pharmaceutical"), i.e. a natural foodstuff rich in preventive and therapeutic properties and health-friendly substances; it also has great potential because it provides proteins with a high biological value, containing the full range of amino acids required for human needs, a characteristic that is almost unique among plants. These properties make moringa an interesting plant also from a humanitarian point of view: it can be used to combat hunger, malnutrition and poverty.
Among the most important substances are 46 antioxidants, including polyphenols. There are also numerous vitamins, such as A and C, which are present in far greater quantities than in oranges.
It is also rich in oil-elements such as zinc, selenium and iron.
It is also known to have diuretic and purifying properties, which can have beneficial effects on swelling and water retention. Its curative uses in natural medicine range from treating colds and fevers to treating inflammation and digestive problems or hypertension. But also diabetes, headaches and hundreds of other ailments.
Everything about moringa is edible: bark, pods, leaves, roots, seeds and flowers, which is one of the reasons it is considered a superfood or miracle tree.
The leaves are very rich in proteins, vitamins and minerals. The leaves are very rich in protein, vitamins and mineral salts. They have a slightly spicy and pleasant taste even when raw and are often used for the nutrition of women in labour or new mothers, especially in poor areas. The flowers are also edible and are usually prepared in salads. In addition, the moringa is a melliferous plant: honey can also be produced from its flowers. As for the seeds, they are usually roasted or boiled and taste remotely similar to chickpeas. The seeds are very important: the oil they contain is made up of 65 to 76% oleic acid, which is the same unsaturated fat as olive oil.
The roots are very special because they have an aromatic and somewhat spicy taste, which can be reminiscent of radish. They are used as a spice, as is done with horseradish, but care should be taken and consumption should be limited due to the presence of spiroquine, an alkaloid that may be harmful to nerve transmission.
Moringa's valuable nutrients help improve cell nutrition, protect against free radicals and strengthen the immune system, so it's no surprise that moringa is also used in cosmetics, with oil and powder-based skin creams and lotions.
It is very easy to find the dried and powdered leaves here for use in infusions and drinks or in creative recipes.
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