The Malunggay Nutritional Value: Beyond Amazing
Also known as Moringa or Drumstick Tree, the malunggay Tree (moringa oleifera) is a popular nutritious food source to both traditional and modern medical professionals. Let’s learn more about this miracle plant.
Here in the Philippines, the leaves and pods of the malunggay tree are famous ingredients to numerous soup dishes such as tinolang manok or nilagang baka. Most of the time malunggay is associated with mothers. The scientific reason behind this practice is that malunggay leaves and pods are natural galactagogues. This means that they help the mother’s body in producing milk for breastfeeding.
Today, the benefits of this plant are no longer “exclusive” to breastfeeding mothers. Over time more traditional health advocates and modern medical professionals have recognized the malunggay’s nutritional value and its health benefits.
Various private and public research group see malunggay as a potential weapon against malnutrition. The World Health Organization (WHO) promoted this plant as a low-cost health enhancer in emerging and developing countries around the globe.
In article published by SunStar back in 2010 a doctor from Senegal said:
“We have always had problems with the classical approach to treating malnourished children. This was based on industrial products: whole milk powder, vegetable oil and sugar. All these things are expensive. When you tell a parent to go out and buy these things, this can be truly costly for him. But in the case of malunggay, it’s a different story. It is locally available and the people themselves can produce it. We have done experiments in treating malnourished children with this plant and the results have been really spectacular.”
Knowing the Malunggay’s Nutritional Value
Now let’s talk about what matters the most. What is the nutritional value or content of the miracle plant? We all know that it is a galactagogue but aside from that what makes this plant beyond amazing? A research conducted by the Department of Agriculture revealed that malunggay contains:
- 75 grams Calories of Energy (higher than squash, ampalaya, tomato or carrot)
- 5.9 grams Protein (higher than cauliflower, lettuce or mustard)
- 12.8 grams Carbohydrates (higher than okra, papaya or watermelon)
- 353 milligrams Calcium (higher than gabi leaves, mung beans, squash or camote tops)
- 3.7 milligrams Niacin (higher than other vegetables analyzed)
Malunggay is also rich in protein. The miracle plant contains all nine essential amino acids important in muscle building which are as follows:
- Valine prevents the breakdown of muscles.
- Leucine helps to regulate blood sugar, and the recovery of muscle and bone tissue.
- Isoleucine helps to heal muscle tissue.
- Phenylalanine is precursor for tyrosine (another amino acid), and the neurotransmitters dopamine (feeling of reward), epinephrine (adrenaline), and melanin (skin pigmentation).
- Tryptophan is a precursor to serotonin (mood and appetite) and melatonin (sleep and blood pressure regulation).
- Lysine builds muscle, aids in the absorption of calcium, and the creation of antibodies.
- Histidine is a precursor to histamine, which causes inflammation in immune responses.
- Methionine aids with the growth of new blood vessels.
- Threonine aids in the synthesis of antibodies and helps support strong bones and tooth enamel.
The essential nutrients and vitamins in Malunggay like protein, Vitamin A, B6 and C, Iron, Magnesium and Riboflavin make it an ideal vegetable for growing kids.
The presence of Vitamin A, C and E in malunggay makes it also an effective food to fight free radicals in the body. It also protects the body from getting sick by boosting the immune system.
[Check out our other article and learn more about the Vitamin A in Malunggay.]
Because of its nutritional value, the Malunggay tree is now being promoted by the Department of Agriculture who has urged farmers to increase its production. Malunggay is now part of various health and wellness programs not just in the Philippines but across the globe.
Important reminder: Nutritional requirements differ from one person to another. Factors to consider are an individual’s occupation, lifestyle, family medical background and personal medical history. We strongly discourage self-diagnosis and self-medication. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.