Battle of the Superfoods: Moringa vs. Turmeric

Turmeric may be the most effective alimentary supplement in existence… almost. There is a new superfood around the block that is giving the yellow spice a real run for its money.

Moringa oleifera, also known as drumstick tree, ben tree, or horseradish tree, is a tree from India, Nepal, and Pakistan that has been used for generations to prevent and treat diseases like anemia, heart disease, diabetes, liver disease, arthritis, and skin, digestive, and respiratory disorders. Hyped as having even more powerful anti-inflammatory properties than turmeric, health professionals are putting their money on Moringa being the next big thing in the world of health food.

This latest superfood cropping up in beauty counters and juice bars is a nutritional powerhouse and can be easily fused into every meal including desserts. Here is what you need to know about this year’s hottest ingredient.

What is it?

There are 13 species of Moringa but the most common one is Moringa oleifera. Its leaves are typically dried and ground into a bright green powder. On the other hand, the tree’s fruit, seeds, and flowers are also edible and have actually been used for medicinal purposes over the centuries.

Moringa vs. Turmeric – Inflammation and your Health

You probably know that inflammation can be hazardous to your health in many ways. If you live a health-conscious, active lifestyle, you might know that moringa is a potent anti-inflammatory food; however, it has been overshadowed by the relative popularity of turmeric. Many studies have proved that as compared to turmeric moringa may be more effective at reducing inflammation. You should know that inflammation could occur externally or internally and come in many forms including swelling, heat, pain, and redness.

Inflammation comes in two forms –

  • Chronic
  • Acute

Acute inflammation is normal, it is our immune system’s response to any injuries. Chronic inflammation, however, is a much different story. It occurs when inflammation persists in our body without any purpose and it could lead to severe health issues.

Putting Moringa and Turmeric to the Test

There are more than enough explanations to make moringa a regular part of your diet. Simply putting, this superfood has four times the iron, three times the calcium, and twice as much protein as kale. Apart from these magnificent nutritional properties moringa has, many research is pointing to the fact the moringa should be the anti-inflammatory of everyone’s choice.

But how powerful of an anti-inflammatory is moringa as compared to turmeric? Let’s find out.

Moringa vs. Turmeric – Comparing Anti-Inflammatory

For comparing the anti-inflammatory properties of these two superfoods, we must first understand how these foods work to reduce inflammation.

For starters, turmeric is a root similar to ginger, commonly used in cooking. Turmeric’s primary anti-inflammatory compound is curcumin, a curcuminoid phenol compound. It is also what gives the root its yellow color.

Moringa is a cruciferous vegetable similar to broccoli and contains glucosinolates that form isothiocyanates.

Studies show that isothiocyanates in moringa as compared to broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables are more stable and bioactive. Isothiocyanates help in reducing inflammation by limiting the production of inflammatory markers and nitric oxide (NO). In addition, isothiocyanates are able to trigger a detoxification pathway called Nrf2.

An experiment conducted found out that isothiocyanates as compared to curcumin were more effective at reducing inflammation markers. During the experiment, it was found that curcumin reduced the nitric oxide production by 15-30%, whereas similar concentrations of isothiocyanates reduced the production of nitric oxide by 70-90%. On the other hand, the compounds found in moringa were found to be more effective at plummeting the concentrations of three different inflammation markers: IL-6, IL-1β, and iNOS.

  • Turmeric/Curcumin is not Readily Absorbed

When eaten on its own, turmeric is not easily absorbed. This questions the superfood’s bioavailability. One way to solve this issue is by consuming turmeric along with black pepper. Black pepper is rich in piperine, an alkaloid that significantly lifts our body’s ability to absorb turmeric. However, it takes time for piperine’s effect to work. In conclusion, despite turmeric’s popularity as a medicinal herb, there isn’t enough research that clinically proves Curcumin’s anti-inflammatory effects on the body.

  • Moringa has Higher Bioavailability

It is found out that Isothiocyanates are more bioactive and readily absorbed than curcumin. There is no need to take pepper in conjunction with moringa as our body can absorb it without any supplemental aid.

What makes moringa a superfood is that it gives a host of other health benefits beyond what the typical green veggies are capable of providing. Simply putting, most of the green vegetables are 90% water, whereas moringa is only 80%, making it more nutrient-dense.

Final Thoughts

This post isn’t about showing turmeric on the negative side and don’t think that it is bad for your health – it is superfood after all. But in terms of powerful anti-inflammatory foods, moringa may be a more versatile yet simpler ingredient to add to your lifestyle.