While Moringa Oleifera has risen in fame in recent years, the plant has been considered a super food in Ayurveda for centuries. The plant’s leaves, flowers, drumsticks, roots and seeds each offer value in terms of nutrition or as natural remedies. Moringa leaves are especially beneficial for new mothers, and have been a part of their diet in many cultures since hundreds of years.
Fresh moringa leaves are known for being very rich in nutrients. When they are shade dried correctly, their per gram nutritional content increases further by 300% – 500% (except for Vitamin C) and they become super dense in nutrients. This makes dried leaf powder a fantastic natural source of nutrients, earning them the title of superfood.
Moringa – the ‘drumstick tree’
Moringa oleifera is the variant of Moringa that is native to India and south-east Asia. It is commonly referred to as ‘drumstick tree,’ named after the drumsticks or immature pods that the tree produces. Drumsticks are a fairly common ingredient in Indian, Thai, and Filipino cuisine, being part of everyday diet of millions of people.
In other regions, Moringa is referred to as horseradish tree (for the taste of its roots) and also as benzoil tree (for the oil produced from its seeds).
The benefits of Moringa leaves for new mothers
1. Boosts production of breast milk
Moringa is commonly considered a galactagogue in Asia. Anecdotally, nursing mothers swear by it, and one study on effect of moringa in breastfeeding found a positive impact on the supply of breastmilk, more than doubling the milk production in many cases[3}. Due to its effectiveness and nutritional goodness, even lactation consultants recommend moringa to induce lactation.
To ensure the best absorption of nutrients, steep powdered moringa leaves in water and consume as a tea.
2. Helps replenish lost nutrients
A mother’s nutrients are depleted during pregnancy and this often continues into the ‘fourth’ trimester. When you are tending to a newborn around the clock, it can be difficult to make the time to eat - or to remember to eat when you do have some precious time to yourself.
In Ayurvedic care practices, a new mother is often surrounded with nutrient dense snacks. Moringa is a great example of what you can consume quite easily to replenish lost nutrients, which helps in boosting recovery and overall energy levels.
The leaves are rich in calcium, protein, potassium, iron, zinc and vitamins A, B and C, making it a super food for new mothers – one that is even recommended by the United Nations for pregnant women, nursing mothers and young children .
Gram per gram, Moringa is touted as containing more nutrients than whole foods. 100 grams of moringa leaves contains:
9 times the protein of yogurt
10 times the vitamin A of carrots
15 times the potassium of bananas
17 times the calcium of milk
12 times the vitamin C of oranges
Of course it’s impractical to consume 100 grams of chopped moringa leaves, which is why it is more commonly consumed in powdered form or as tea.
The high protein and calcium content of moringa leaves make it an excellent source of nutrients for vegan mothers in particular.
3. Promotes hair growth
Elevated hormones do wonders for a woman’s hair while pregnant, boosting hair growth. Sadly, this reverses quite suddenly during the postpartum period as hormones return to their normal levels.
Personally, I thought this was inevitable and that the only cure was ‘time.’ Horrified by the sudden splatter of hair across the house, my husband urged me to speak to my doctor about it. She was quick to correct me, and recommended nutritional supplements to strengthen my hair follicles.
It turns out that the nutrients present in Moringa leaves, specifically zinc, iron, amino acids, vitamin C and vitamin E, are all beneficial in addressing postpartum hair fall. And since moringa leaf powder is entirely natural, it’s easier for the body to absorb.
4. Balances new mother’s vata energy
According to Ayurveda, the process of childbirth creates space in the mother’s body and upsets her vata energy (which is related to air). Moringa can reduce the imbalance in vata , especially when drumsticks or leaves are consumed with ghee or sesame oil. Moringa also provides warmth to the body and can improve digestion, which is beneficial during the postpartum recovery.
Above and beyond all this, Moringa also contains isothiocyanates, flavonoids, and phenolic acid, which have anti-inflammatory properties. It’s no wonder this plant is referred to as a ‘Miracle Tree!’
3 ways to include Moringa powder in your diet
1. Sip on warm moringa tea
There is nothing more soothing for new mothers than a cup of warm tea. Moringa powder which is gently sweetened with honey or dates makes an excellent tea. Add a dash of lemon if you like. Make sure to drink up any residue at the end.
Although moringa powder is not completely soluble in water, it is the best way to make tea to make sure you are getting all the benefits. By simply steeping dried leaves in hot water and discarding them, one would be throwing away most of the essential nutrients.
2. Mix it in smoothies
Although it is recommend for new mothers to have warm food and drinks for first 2-3 weeks postpartum, moringa powder makes an excellent smoothie ingredient. Start by adding half a teaspoon in your smoothie, and slowly increase to up to 1.5 teaspoon to give yourself time to adjust to its taste and effects.
3. Add it to your food
You can add moringa powder in your soup, sprinkle it on your salad, or blend it in sauces or dips. Another great way is to mix half teaspoon moringa powder in 1 teaspoon ghee and eat it every morning.
Best time to have moringa leaves to promote lactation
For maximum absorption, it is best to have moringa leaves first thing in the morning as an empty stomach maximizes absorption of the nutrients. However, if that is not feasible, you should have moringa leaves whatever time your schedule allows you to.
Note: The only mild side-effect of Moringa is that it can have a mild laxative effect for those with sensitive digestive systems, or when consumed in large quantities. Pregnant women should restrict themselves to consuming Moringa leaves and drumsticks only, and to avoid the roots, flowers, bark and gum.
Lactation Smoothie Mix
For the smoothie lover moms, this 100% organic and nourishing blend of lactation superfoods will power up your day and get the milk flowing. One of the main functional ingredient of the mix is Moringa Leaf that boosts milk production and is a great source of vitamins & minerals.
Posted by Nidhi Chimnani
Nidhi is a fresh mom who has lived in over 8 countries and has experienced several cultures closely. She was editor-in-chief of an established magazine for several years. She currently lives in Dubai and writes a blog about her experience with baby stuff. See her blog here.