It seems like every other day you hear about a brand new superfood - but once in a while, you find one that really IS worth the hype. Step forward moringa, the green superleaf powder from the Moringa tree, known as the "Miracle Tree" in Africa.
But before you roll your eyes at a journalist singing the praises of another acai or goji berry, listen up. Moringa has been used for its medicinal properties in Asia and Africa for years, and valued for its richness in anti-oxidants and minerals. Regarded by nutritionists as one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet, it's been somewhat neglected in the superfood world (I saw it on a yoga fanatics Instagram page once, but that was it), until now.
Moringa was a pretty niche product before, but has now arrived in the UK, thanks to African health and beauty company Aduna (they also made Baobab one of the fastest-growing superfood crazes of 2013), who are hoping it will become 2014's must-try product. And with the current trend for green juices and superfood powders (they can't keep Elle Macpherson's Super Elixir in stock at Selfridges), it's great timing. But is it worth the hype?
The stats behind the superfood are pretty good. 100% organic, raw moringa boasts your recommended daily allowance of 13 essential vitamins and minerals, is 25% protein and contains the nine essential amino acids, and more antioxidants than goji berries, green tea, blueberries, acai and pomegranates. And the exceptionally high level of nutrients means Moringa has more "superfood clout" than those other super-healthy green powders you'll find in a health food store - we're talking about spirulina, chlorella and wheatgrass. All that goodness inside means moringa is meant to help with everything from keeping your immune system and blood pressure in check, to regulating blood sugar - it's even been used as a beauty remedy for problem skin.
It's also a lot more palatable -the slightly spinachy taste isn't overpowering and it doesn't smell bad when added to smoothies and other dishes (I've tried it in a whole range of meals). Aduna recommend you sprinkle half a teaspoon onto salads and in drinks to start - and with prices for a small tub starting at £7.99, it's certainly a lot cheaper than many superfood supplements.
So who should eat it? Founder of Nutrition Rocks Hala El-Shafie thinks it's a great addition to a vegan or vegetarian diet, due to the high protein content: "Moringa is an excellent natural source of both iron and vitamin A, making it a useful supplement for battling fatigue whilst also providing a rich source of antioxidants for healthy skin. For vegans, vegetarians and women who don't get enough iron in their diet, moringa is a nutritionally rich option."
I'm currently trying moringa in my morning smoothie - and the high protein content does give you an energy boost - although I'm yet to see an improvement in my skin. But like all these food supplements, these things take time and only really work in addition to a healthy diet and exercise.
If you want to try Moringa, health food blogger Naturally Sassy has created these tasty recipes - the Key Lime Pie is amazing.
For the crust:
- 2 cups brazil nuts/pecans/cashew
- 1/4 cup desiccated coconut
- 1 cup medjool dates
For the filling:
- 2 teaspoons moringa
- 1 1/2 cups cashews (soaked for 2 hours or overnight)
- 1 avocado
- Juice 3 limes
- 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
- 1/2 cup canned coconut cream
- 1/3 cup raw honey/maple syrup/agave
For the crust:
1) Put the nuts into a food processor and process until a fine crumb. Then add the other ingredients in and process until it forms a fudgy dough.
2) Pour the contents into the bottom of a spring-form cake pan or for mini versions divide into miniature tart cases (this makes 4-6) and press down until the entire bottom is covered.
For the filling:
1) Place everything for the filling in the blender and blend until smooth.
2) Pour the filling on to the crust and then refrigerate. Freeze for a couple of hours before taking it out of the freezer allow it to thaw for 10-15 minutes and enjoy!
Creamy Green Smoothie
2 medjool dates
1/3 cup cashew nuts
a handful each of spinach & kale
2 tsp Moringa Powder
2 cups Coconut Water
Add all ingredients to your blender, and blend! Top with goji berries, coconut chips and a sprinkle of chia seeds!
For more from Naturally Sassy, head here.
For more info on Moringa, visit the Aduna website.