Dr. Monica Marcu is noted worldwide for her expertise on Moringa, as she has decades of experience in studying a variety of plants. Her study and research of Moringa is incorporated in her book Miracle Tree, a long-time favorite of Zija Independent Distributors. As a member of the Zija Product Advisory Council, she will be sharing her expertise and findings on Moringa. Below she shares information about the beneficial phytochemicals found in Moringa:
One of the main benefits of moringa stems from her very high concentration and diversity of substances with antioxidant properties. Let’s review why is this important for health and which are these beneficial substances.
Different parts of moringa contain important minerals, vitamins, hormones, various phenolic components that play many roles in the plant metabolism, and act as antioxidants in the human or animal body, once ingested. The plant is indeed, a rich and rare combination of zeatin (plant hormone), quercetin, lutein, caffeoylquinic acid and kaempferol (the last four are valuable bioactive polyphenols). These phytochemicals (substances derived from plants) also act as antioxidants to stabilize free radicals that damage cells.
Some of the vitamins present in moringa function as potent antioxidants—vitamin E, A (beta-carotene), C, while some of the minerals also can support against the oxidative reactions that are damaging various tissues - selenium, zinc, copper. To summarize, moringa contains a chemical diversity of nutrients and phytochemicals that function as antioxidants and synergize together for a more potent activity.
But what is “oxidation”, a “free radical”, and why do we bother to inhibit their action on our tissues?
A common example of oxidation is the browning of an apple slice when exposed to air. There are many other examples – think about the rancid butter, that is also due to oxidation of the fats contained in butter. Something similar and damaging happens inside our cells and tissues as well.
We cannot live without oxygen—we breathe, and metabolize, and create energy inside every cell by using oxygen. But at the same time, during all these normal processes, some oxygen-containing molecules can become unstable (they have unpaired electrons) and search stability by “stealing” electrons from other molecules. These unstable free radicals are toxic and dangerous if not eliminated fast because they attack and damage proteins, genetic material (DNA), lipids and other components of healthy cells, thus causing harm. The body obviously tries to keep in check these energy “terrorists” and produces natural antioxidants that can donate electrons to the free radicals and stabilize them. But oftentimes our natural protection is overwhelmed due to pollutants, stress, ultraviolet radiation, poor nutrition, toxins—all these bring in, or induce excessive amounts of free radicals. That is when and where the food-derived antioxidants come to play a vital role! Basically, in our modern and quite polluted environment, we need to supplement our diet with rich and potent natural antioxidants. Generally, fruits, veggies, seeds and other plant parts are rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants inhibit and scavenge free radicals, stopping the damage of the normal cells. Today, more than ever, we should provide adequate reserves of antioxidants within our bodies.
A lot of research is now directed towards natural antioxidants originated from plants since they are safe. Moringa oleifera, especially the leaves, exhibit strong scavenging effect on free radicals, not only of oxygen, but of nitrogen as well. The major bioactive compounds were found to be flavonoids such as quercetin and kaempferol.