The plant is a good source of vitamins C and A, and various minerals – but with the dried powder costing £40 a kilo, it doesn’t come cheap
It has become a modern tradition that each new year should bring with it an obscure superfood to weigh on our consciences. In 2018, it is the turn of moringa, a “miracle tree” indigenous to the foothills of the Himalayas, but widely cultivated throughout India, south-east Asia and east Africa, too. Entirely edible, from root to bark, fast-growing and drought tolerant, with seeds that can purify dirty water, it’s such a valuable resource in many regions that the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has named it crop of the month.
It is also, apparently, pretty good news for the rest of us: moringa has been touted by Time magazine as “the next quinoa”, while the Huffington Post reckons it’s “about to be huge, and you should know about it”. But some of the claims made for it – such as the assertion by “nutritionist and beauty expert” Kimberley Snyder that “it has twice the protein of spinach and three times as much iron” – should be treated with a degree of caution. Although moringa leaves do indeed contain high levels of iron, a study published in the journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology last year found that its bioavailability (the amount that enters the body’s circulation) is “very low” . In fact, its phytic acid content “appears to strongly inhibit absorption of iron present in other components of the diet”.