Moringa: The Complete Vegan Protein

Posted by Stephany Morgan on

Moringa is SO full of beneficial phytonutrients and has so much going for it that it is hard for me not to write a book about it! So stay tuned, because Moringa is in the superfood spotlight. We’ll be talking about the protein content of this adaptogenic tea in this instalment.

If you've not already read my Spotlight on Moringa, introducing what it is and how it's used, check it out here.

Now time to read on!

Protein and a Vegan Diet

Of the 20 dietarily relevant amino acids, 11 are non-essential, which means our body can make them. But the rest must come from the diet. These other 9 are found together in animal proteins. Which is great! Unless you are vegan.

Vegans need to eat combinations of plants to gain enough of these essential amino acids. For example, beans are high in protein, but they lack certain essential amino acids. This can be corrected by eating them with rice or corn - which contain the amino acids beans are lacking.

The shuffling of plants to combine them correctly and make sure all the amino acids are consumed in proper amounts can be difficult. And while vegans may argue that they really aren’t deficient in protein, it is possible that they could be low one some of the essential amino acids (the building blocks of protein) without realising it, or even if they are paying attention to their diet, there are many more casual vegans who may not be.

Enter Moringa!

This plant miracle contains a whopping 17 amino acids, and all 9 essential amino acids, making it one of the very rare complete proteins in the plant world!

Nutritional Support and Rejuvenation

Moringa leaves are rich in nutrients. The leaf extract is given to address malnutrition, thus making it a great daily addition to the diet:

Moringa is rich in nutrition... In fact, moringa is said to provide 7 times more vitamin C than oranges, 10 times more vitamin A than carrots, 17 times more calcium than milk, 9 times more protein than yoghurt, 15 times more potassium than bananas and 25 times more iron than spinach.- Gopalakrishnan, Doriya, & Kumar (2016)

Vegan Smoothies Healthy Diet

Moringa is classified as an adaptogen. Recall that adaptogens help restore homeostasis (normal function of various body systems). Of the many nutritional benefits from Moringa, weight is one of particular interest to those in the West, as well as other countries.

Adaptogens normalize the delicate balance of the body by normalizing the function of different body systems. Overall, they restore the balance of function in the adrenals, which secrete stress hormones. These are often overproduced and negatively impacts our bodily function (such as digestive function, circulatory system - i.e. blood pressure - immune system function, and even brain function). This is because stress force blood circulation from the frontal lobe of the brain (our judgement center) to the more survival and reactionary area of the brain. Stress shuts down digestion, and it decreases our immune response by forcing blood away from the core to our peripheral limbs to make us more equipped to run or fight. When we are stressed, our blood pressure can rise. But chronic stress and trauma can lead to a lack of regulation of things such as blood pressure and body temp, resulting in dropped blood pressure and passing out (called POTS).

So in short, by regulating our physical reaction to every day stressors and modulating the action of the adrenals, and reducing the production of stress hormones, moringa allows the other body systems to return to normal function. I've written a lot more about adaptogenic plants here if you're interested in digging deeper. By restoring homeostasis, one could say that it brings the body into balance and restores normal function of multiple body systems.

I’ve mentioned before that it is given to help combat malnutrition in economically developing countries in the tropics (read more here). It provides macronutrients (like protein and fat) as well as numerous micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), and acts to increase weight gain in these individuals when used to supplement their diet. But it can also support weight loss in those who need to reduce the reading on the scale! How? It is a nutrient-dense, low-calorie food (these kind of foods are especially helpful for those trying to lose weight).

Moringa PlantIn terms of nutrition, I've put together a chart of what is in moringa, and in what quantities (not always easy to find online...) It covers moringa's nutrient content per 100g of fresh leaves, 100g of powder (like matcha, you consume the powdered leaf, not just infusions/brewings), Recommended Dietary Allowance for reference and per normal serving size in the West - as that's the number we all really care about! Only vitamins C and E amounts decrease in the dried powder compared to the fresh leaves.

Table 1: Moringa Nutritional Values per 100 grams and per serving

 

Fresh leaves

(Per 100 grams*)

Leaf powder

(Per 100 grams*)

RDA** (Recommended Dietary Allowance)

Typical Western consumption (~1 Tbs) of Moringa
(rounded to nearest decimal)

Calories

92

205

2,000

41

Fat

1.7 g

2.3 g

44-70 g

0.46 g

Protein

6.7 g

27.1 g

0.8 g per kg of body weight

5.4 g

Carbohydrates

12.5 g

38.2 g

130 g

7.6 g

Fiber

0.9 g

19.2 g

25 g (Daily Value)

3.8 g

Vitamin B1

0.06 mg

2.64 mg

1.5 mg

0.53 mg

Vitamin B2

0.05 mg

20.5 mg

1.7 mg

4.1 mg

Vitamin B3

0.8 mg

8.2 mg

20 mg

1.6 mg

Vitamin C

220 mg

17.3 mg

60 mg

3.5 mg

Vitamin E

448 mg

113 mg

30 IU (about 20.1 mg)

22.6 mg

Calcium

440 mg

2,003 mg

1,000 mg

400 mg

Magnesium

42 mg

368 mg

400 mg

73.6 mg

Phosphorus

70 mg

204 mg

1,000 mg

40.8 mg

Copper

0.07 mg

0.57 mg

0.9 mg or 900 mcg

0.11 mg

Potassium

259 mg

1,324 mg

3, 500 mg

265 mg

Iron

0.85 mg

28.2 mg

18 mg

5.6 mg

Sulphur

-

870 mg

-

174 mg

* If you are wondering how much 100 grams is, it is roughly equivalent to ⅓ cup or about 5.25 tablespoons. That being said, only 70 grams is recommended as a daily intake so as not to overdose on iron.

**  RDAs are adequate, though not necessarily optimal, amounts for total daily consumption.

This is not even a comprehensive list either - Moringa actually contains 92 nutrients (including zinc, manganese, and selenium) and 46 antioxidants! Some of those antioxidants are quercetin, beta-carotene, and reduced glutathione, which is the stable and active form of glutathione. Moringa's ORAC (antioxidant) level is ~1575, as compared to matcha's 1384. You can see a chart of ORAC (antioxidant) levels in the teas sold at MatchaAlternatives.com here.

 Moringa Protein Workout

Moringa as an Alkalizing Pre-Workout Protein

Did you see that? 100 grams of Moringa contains 27.1 grams of protein? Put down those dairy and egg based protein shakes and add Moringa to a pre-workout green smoothie! Your body will thank you.

Many protein drinks are high in acidic protein (egg white) or mildly acidic protein (whey), and have additives like sugars, artificial sweeteners, thickeners and added vitamins and minerals (which are generally synthetic). Manufacturers are not supervised by the FDA when labeling their products and assessing safety, which means they may contain unmentioned additives.

When a non-profit organization (Clean Label Project) evaluated 134 products they found that many of the protein powders contained heavy metals such as lead, arsenic, cadmium, and mercury, BPA (an ingredient used to make plastic), pesticides, and contaminants linked to cancer. 

The Alkalizing Effects of Moringa

It is recommended to get protein from whole food sources (like Moringa), and the alkalizing benefits of Moringa are also especially important.

Eating large amounts of acid-forming foods can lead to deoxygenation of blood cells, an anaerobic environment which hosts anaerobic-loving pathogens and can lead to disease states such as cancer (thank you to Otto Warburg who earned a Nobel prize for discovering that link!), the breakdown of tissues, demineralization of bones, higher probability of injury, and heart arrhythmia. The body has buffers to balance pH, but consuming an acidic meal prior to exercise can overwhelm this buffer system and create a very dangerous situation.

Moringa, and vegetables and fruits are generally alkalizing (this means they have an alkaline response in the body post digestion, even if the food itself tests at an acid pH prior to digestion), meaning they leave an alkaline residue or “ash”. So again, for those gym bunnies who care about this issue vs the acidic proteins in their egg-white or whey powders, this could be interesting news.

Look out for our future articles on Iron and Magnesium levels of moringa and matcha - and critically, whether they are in a form that can be accessed by the body.

 

Superior Organic Moringa Tea Powder with Cup - Matcha Alternatives

A Note From The Herbalist...

For those who are looking for a simpler alternative to processed and adulterated packaged proteins, with all those vitamins and nutrients on top, moringa is your answer.

I realise it sounds like I am hard-selling moringa at this point, but actually it’s simply this good. This is why it’s used as a food to combat malnutrition, and just Google for yourself, it’s often called the “miracle tree”. It’s a new trend finally coming to the USA after being a regular stable is so many parts of the world for centuries. The founders of MatchaAlternatives.com, Elizabeth and Vientiene, in fact discovered it for themselves during their year in India where it's a normal part of the diet.

~

Explore our Posts & Teas

Discover Matcha Alternatives' Tea Science Series here
To learn more about our teas, check out our introductory Spotlight series
Superior Organic Moringa Tea Powder - Matcha Alternatives

Superior Organic Moringa Tea Powder - More antioxidants than matcha, and tastes sweet and grassy, smooth and not at all bitter or dusty
Ingredients: Small-batch organic moringa from India

  

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~

Disclaimer

All of the information regarding the herbs, botanicals, minerals, vitamins, etc., is information drawn from traditional use data or academic research and should be regarded as such. If you, the reader, has a health or medical concern, please consult your healthcare professional. The information found here is not meant to diagnose, treat, prescribe or cure and has not been evaluated by the FDA. This information is for educational purposes only.

Moringa as a Vegan Protein References and Further Reading

 https://www.researchgate.net/publication/216463190_Moringa_The_herbal_gold_to_combat_malnutrition

https://moringatreeoflife.com/moringa-leaves

Gopalakrishnan, L., Doriya, K., & Kumar, D. S. (2016). Moringa oleifera: A review on nutritive importance and its medicinal application. Food Science and Human Wellness, 5(2), 49–56. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fshw.2016.04.001 retrieved Dec 2, 2019 from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2213453016300362#!

www.cleanlabelproject.org

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-hidden-dangers-of-protein-powders

https://sickle.bwh.harvard.edu/iron_absorption.html

https://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-phytates-phytic-acid

Sindhu, S., Mangala, S., & Sherry, B. (2013). Efficacy of mooring oleifera in treating iron deficiency anemia in women of reproductive age group. International Journal of Phytotherapy Research, 3(4), 15–20. Retrieved Dec 3, 2019 from https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/a84b/70d33654f4b3472f013bcc1ce1ad578ec541.pdf?_ga=2.168521889.1215032978.1575407944-1553608471.1575407944

Mun’Im, A., Puteri, M. U., Sari, S. P., & A, A. (2016). Anti-Anemia Effect of Standardized Extract of Moringa Oleifera Lamk. Leaves on Aniline Induced Rats. Pharmacognosy Journal, 8(3), 255–258. doi: 10.5530/pj.2016.3.14 retrieved Dec. 3, 2019 from https://phcogj.com/sites/default/files/10.5530pj.2016.3.14.pdf

Gopalakrishnan, L., Doriya, K., & Kumar, D. S. (2016). Moringa oleifera: A review on nutritive importance and its medicinal application. Food Science and Human Wellness, 5(2), 49–56. doi: 10.1016/j.fshw.2016.04.001 retrieved Dec. 2, 2019 from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2213453016300362#!

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/coffee-caffeine-iron-absorption#section2

Clydesdale, F. M. (1982). The Effects of Physicochemical Properties of Food on the Chemical Status of Iron. In ACS Symposium Series (pp. 55–84). https://doi.org/10.1021/bk-1982-0203.ch004 retrieved Dec. 2, 2019 from https://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/bk-1982-0203.ch004

Kibangou, I., Bouhallab, S., Henry, G. et al. Milk Proteins and Iron Absorption: Contrasting Effects of Different Caseinophosphopeptides. Pediatr Res 58, 731–734 (2005) doi:10.1203/01.PDR.0000180555.27710.46 retrieved Dec 3, 2019 from https://www.nature.com/articles/pr2005732

Marciales, K., Soto, J., Castrillo, J., Moncada, J., Arias, J., & Rave, L. (2019). Effect of the addition of Moringa Oleifera to fruit drinks on clinical parameters associated with iron deficiency anaemia in schoolchildren. Archivos LatinoAmericano De Nutrición, 69(1). Retrieved Dec. 3, 2019 from https://www.alanrevista.org/ediciones/2019/1/art-2/

Victor Saturnin, H. B., Mamatchi, M., Nago Eunice, K., Balbine, F. A., Lumo, A. K., Paul, A., … Kou santa, A. (2018). Pharmacological Effects of Moringa oleifera (Lam.) Leaves Powder in the Treatment of Anaemia in Children Aged from 6 to 30 Months in Lissezoun in Central Benin. Biochemistry & Physiology: Open Access, 7(3). https://doi.org/10.4172/2168-9652.1000244 Retrieved Dec 3, 2019 from https://www.omicsonline.org/open-access/pharmacological-effects-of-moringa-oleifera-lam-leaves-powder-in-the-treatment-of-anaemia-in-children-aged-from-6-to-30-months-in-2168-9652-1000244-105015.html

Suzana, D., Suyatna, F. D., A, A., Andrajati, R., Sari, S. P., & Mun’Im, A. (2017). Effect of Moringa oleifera Leaves Extract Against Hematology and Blood Biochemical Value of Patients with Iron Deficiency Anemia. Journal of Young Pharmacists, 9(1s), S79–S84. doi: 10.5530/jyp.2017.1s.20 retrieved Dec 3, 2019 from https://www.jyoungpharm.org/sites/default/files/10.5530jyp.2017.1s.20.pdf

https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03514472

Shija, A. E., Rumisha, S. F., Oriyo, N. M., Kilima, S. P., & Massaga, J. J. (2019). Effect of Moringa Oleifera leaf powder supplementation on reducing anemia in children below two years in Kisarawe District, Tanzania. Food science & nutrition, 7(8), 2584–2594. doi:10.1002/fsn3.1110 retrieved Dec. 3, 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6694432/

Zongo, U., Zoungrana, S. L., Savadogo, A., & Traoré, A. S. (2013). Nutritional and Clinical Rehabilitation of Severely Malnourished Children with <i>Moringa oleifera Lam</i>. Leaf Powder in Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso). Food and Nutrition Sciences, 4(9), 991–997. https://doi.org/10.4236/fns.2013.49128 retrieved Dec. 3, 2019 from http://www.moringanews.org/documents/rehabilitation.pdf

https://www.amchara.com/detox-and-cleanse/92-nutrients-and-46-antioxidants-in-one-tree-maringa-oleifera

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/jaggery#section3

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/216463190_Moringa_The_herbal_gold_to_combat_malnutrition

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/11208-fat-what-you-need-to-know

https://www.nap.edu/read/1349/chapter/2#8

https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2005/report/HTML/D5_Carbs.htm

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4852230/

https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/interactivenutritionfactslabel/factsheets/vitamin_and_mineral_chart.pdf

https://www.thecalculatorsite.com/articles/units/convert-ui-to-mcg.php

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK222312/

https://healthy.net/2000/12/06/sulfur-2/

 

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2 comments

  • This is exactly the information I needed! I was searching for Moringa because I read about it but I could only find articles that were promoting it´s good for you, but not WHY. Now I got my answer and can´t wait to try it!

    Claudia Dieterman on

  • I’ve just ordered this tea. I’m excited to try it, both for drinking and for use in cooking. So much goodness packed into it.

    Jon Cholakian on


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