MORINGA

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The horse­rad­ish tree ( Moringa oleifera) from north­ern In­dia is high in vi­ta­mins and min­er­als and al­most en­tirely ed­i­ble. The immature seed­pods can be cooked like green beans, the leaves like spinach and the roots like horse­rad­ish. The flow­ers, seeds and bark also have ther­a­peu­tic value. The leaves are rich in pro­tein and cal­cium as well as other min­er­als and vi­ta­mins.

An ex­tract of moringa leaves and root was tra­di­tion­ally used as a heart tonic and has been shown to re­duce serum choles­terol and the for­ma­tion of atheroscle­rotic plaques, or hard­en­ing of the ar­ter­ies. Toasted moringa leaves are a tra­di­tional rem­edy for hy­per­glycemia, reg­u­lat­ing blood sugar lev­els. The plant also has anti-can­cer prop­er­ties; an­tiox­i­dants it con­tains tar­get the free rad­i­cals that trig­ger can­cer­ous growths.

Moringa has be­come pop­u­lar as a leaf pow­der sup­ple­ment, but you can grow your own tree in the warmer parts of New Zealand. Sow seeds (avail­able from Kings Seeds) in pots in spring. A sun- and heat-lov­ing plant, it thrives in most soil types but doesn’t tol­er­ate hard frosts. It will even­tu­ally grow to a height of 10m.

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