Is your moringa good quality?
Moringa oleifera, also known as "miracle tree", is a plant native to the north of India. It was discovered around 2000 BC, and grows in tropical and subtropical zones. There are 13 types of Moringa in the world, coming from the Moringaceae family, but not all of them have the properties that the Moringa oleifera contains, (considered a SUPER FOOD) making it the most popular and cultivated of its family.
In fact, more than 700 studies indicate that its high content of proteins, 93 nutrients, vitamins, minerals, 46 antioxidants, omega fats and 18 essential and non-essential amino acids are enviable, since helps to prevent more than 300 diseases and several parts of the plant -like its leaves, roots, seeds, bark, flowers and green pods- help the heart and circulation, as well works as antitumor, antipyretic, antiepileptic, anti-inflammatory, anti-inflammatory, anti-ulcer, antispasmodic, diuretic, antihypertensive agents, antidiabetic, antibacterial and antifungal that also protect the liver and help lower cholesterol levels.
Moringa is a beneficial plant that offers this broad list of benefits, however, its recent boom has caused certain producers to cultivate and market it under standards that do not follow a natural procedure and move away from the main objective: to take care of health, to nourish and prevent diseases. Therefore, we must learn to distinguish between moringa oleifera products; those that are organic from those that are industrialized, since a choice with little information could lead us to think that this wonderful plant is not as beneficial as it seems.
Back to Traditional: Moringa Oleifera Organic
Only responsible producers are concerned about observing the process that goes from the planting of the seed, to the packaging of the product, ensuring that the due process is fulfilled. It is no secret that the manufacture of organic products demands higher costs, but there are producers who, in the spirit of sharing the best of their products, balance these prices and thus not affect the consumer therefore becoming more competitive than those with deficient products.
The cultivation of organic moringa oleifera is a delicate and mainly artisanal process. It starts from the soil where it will be cultivated, choosing the regions that are ideal for their weather conditions, for the growth of moringa, and also preparing the soil with natural herbicides that are responsible for removing the weeds without damaging it. The seeds are sown, and the buds are watched, taken care of and allowed to grow. Unlike industrial producers, with respect to pests, organic producers do not resort to the toxic pesticides that most use because they are cheaper, they choose natural pesticides that kill insects without leaving residues that harm human beings.
The difference between: chemical herbicides and pesticides from the organic, is that in addition to the obvious toxicity of the chemical, these reduce the nutrimental values of the plants. Studies have been conducted for decades finding a clear relationship between the reduction of the amount of minerals, and crops exposed to herbicides, fertilizers and chemical pesticides.
For example, the use of natural fertilizers showed a difference of up to 27% more in vitamin C, plus 21.1% in iron, plus 29.3% in magnesium and 13.6% in phosphorus against non-organic crops. Also, in an investigation carried out on pumpkins, carrots, potatoes, lettuce and spinach, when choosing chemical pesticides, a difference of 21 milligrams in vitamin C, .7 milligrams in iron, 11 milligrams in magnesium and 12 milligrams in phosphorus was observed, being always organic vegetables the most valuable.
As if that were not enough, those who use chemical herbicides and pesticides try to manipulate with these and other substances the effects they cause on human beings. A study presented in 1972 reported that chemical herbicides were used to increase the amount of proteins in crops and, although they did so in quantity, they did not do so in quality because they did not provide any additional nutritional value. Nor will we omit, that nowadays it is experimented with all kinds of vegetables, exposing them to substances that increase their volume, and give them a better appearance ... but their nutritional value is minimal.
After procuring the natural growth of the moringa oleifera, when the leaves of the plant reach maturity and its maximum point in benefits (two or three months after planting), the plant is harvested by hand from the farm, cutting around the tree and applying a special organic sealer in each cut so that it is not attacked by fungi or bacteria. It is placed in pools to go through a wash with water and natural substances, with disinfectant properties free of chlorine (or worse, colloidal silver) since, many studies indicate that its consumption in the medium and long term may cause the development of asthma and also Cancer.
With the above information, it can be deduced that the current popularity of organic farms does not respond to a simple whim, or to a trend… but rather to a real and growing need to return to the original, to help maintain health and truly receive “The best of Mother Nature”. Fortunately, there are still people interested in doing things as our ancestors did, in the natural way, and they turn their backs on practices that involve chemicals.
Drying of the moringa oleifera
After washing and disinfecting the moringa, it is decided how to dry the harvest. This point is very important, because there may be those who do all the steps of sowing and caring in the best way, but a bad choice in the drying method can ruin all the process. For example, there are producers who prefer drying under the sun, which is undoubtedly faster (which allows them to produce more in less time) but this procedure makes the moringa yellow or brown, a clear characteristic that indicates that a large part of the nutrients have been lost by the action of the sun's ultraviolet rays, so that, in the end, the consumer receives a product of inferior quality.
However, there are producers who prefer to invest time and adhere to other methods that, although slower, respect the integrity of the plant and let them maintain up to 95% of the properties of Moringa (except vitamin C, which reduces its amount). Ideal drying is shaded or under heating.
The ideal drying is under shade or at low heating. For example, in a company located in Costa Rica, which follows from start to finish, a purely organic production protocol; once the leaves of the plant go through the washing, they are taken to a roofed area with natural ventilation, where they are hung by laces or they are placed on plates, which facilitate the runoff of the water. This process is effective, but it can take two or three days.
On the other hand, this same producer also uses ovens, or controlled environment rooms, equipped with thermal insulation, and radiant aluminum barrier in which the leaves are subjected to a drying process for six to eight hours, at a temperature of 42 degrees Celsius to reduce humidity between 7 and 10%.
The indiscriminate use of incorrect ovens - like ordinary ovens or household ovens- "burns" moringa, this drastically reduces its benefits and leaves it brownish color similar to tobacco.
One way to identify if the drying was carried out correctly, is to pay attention to the color of the moringa, which changes from a bright green (typical of the fresh plant) to a darker and more intense green (not brown, yellow or beige). We must be careful, because some companies tend to unfair competition and add dye to the product to make it look, after bad drying practices, greener than it was. If you notice a crushed or powdered product with a bright green color, submerge a little in water. If dye was added to the product, it will dye the water. Do not leave these observations aside because they make the difference in the quality of moringa you consume.
Once the leaves dry, they go to the next process, in which they are crushed or pulverized (depending on their presentation).
In any case, the dried moringa leaves go through several filtrations that purify the product. The packaging will depend precisely on the presentation. If you are going to use it for tea, it will be filled into sterilized bags, and possibly also into boxes since we must, again, think about protecting the product from the sun. If preferred in capsules, the moringa powder will be poured into capsules of vegetable or animal origin, decision and quality process which will be depend entirely on the producer, and his genuine commitment to organic philosophy. It might seem like a small detail, but it's more relevant than we imagine.
Moringa oleifera is a very ancient and extremely noble plant for human beings, which can, unfairly obtain a bad reputation because of a poor cultivation procedure by producers, who only want their economic benefit. It is important to be aware of the selection of the product to be acquired. Knowing the producer, the processes that he performs, studying the appearance of moringa among others, these are fundamental measures to ensure beyond to the best purchase ... the best moringa to enjoy its benefits.