October 5, 2016 by Stephen Bentley
Malunggay – Miracle Tree of the Philippines
Moringa malunggay is known as the ‘Miracle Tree’ because all its parts are beneficial for health. It is also called Drumstick Tree and in the Philippines, it is known as malunggay. Scientific research can prove that moringa has many health benefits because it contains seven times more vitamin C from oranges, four times more calcium in milk, four times more vitamin A in carrots, three times more potassium than in bananas and two times more protein from milk.
It is used to combat malnutrition because of its high contents of vitamin A, B, and C, calcium, iron, protein and potassium. It can be a substitute for many foods, fruits and vegetables because of its high nutritional value. – Source: Youth Health Magazine
The article goes on to say this about the ‘Miracle Tree.’
Also, it was found out that it is a potent antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal. Its leaves have a compound called pterygospermin which is medically known to have antimicrobial properties. Malunggay or Moringa has been shown in studies to have an anti-tumor capacity. Moringa contains benzyl isothiocyanate that have chemoprotective and anti-cancer properties. Moringa is also said to balance sugar levels, hence it is helpful in the fight against diabetes.
It contains more than 90 nutrients and 46 types of antioxidants. Antioxidants are imprint in health because they fight and kill free radicals which are the main culprits in many diseases including cancer. Also, there are no side-effects of moringa tree leaves which have been proven up to this time.
Subsequently, it can be consumed by small children and adults alike. Hence, it can be constituted in many foods like porridge, rice and even bread. According to a researcher, Dr. Monica Marcu, it is very potent because even in small amounts, it can supply the body of the needed nutrients. Lastly, it has only a few calories.
It is a good source of vitamins because it was said to contain 18 amino acids and it is a good source of fiber and roughage. Indeed, it has many health benefits that can provide the body of essential nutrients and prevention of certain diseases.
The thing that prompted me to write about the miracle tree is that I was soon aware of its health-giving properties soon after I arrived in the Philippines. I regularly eat it and enjoy it most of all in a breakfast of vegetable soup.
That soup or stew is known as laswa and is a popular Ilonggo vegetable soup. It’s the equivalent of bulanglang from Batangas and dinengdeng from Ilocos.
Laswa is an Ilonggo vegetable stew which is healthy, inexpensive, and really easy to prepare. Most of the vegetable ingredients for laswa are grown in backyard gardens so they’re free. Indeed malunggay grows wild near to my house. If you have to buy the ingredients they are affordable so you won’t spend a lot of money to prepare it. You also don’t need special cooking skills to prepare laswa, just boil the vegetables and season with salt and voila! You have a healthy dish that is good for all ages.
There are different variations to a laswa recipe since the ingredients depend on the vegetable in season. Common vegetables are squash, okra, papaya, eggplant, string beans, alugbati, tugabang (saluyot), malunggay, takway, kulitis, winged beans, patola, etc. Some people use shrimp, crabs or guinamos (shrimp paste) to add more flavors to the laswa. It is best to leave the head and shell of shrimps intact so they retain much of their flavor.
The one thing I urge my Filipino family when preparing laswa or any other food, is to go easy on the salt! There is a tendency in the Philippines to add too much salt in the cooking process which of course is not good for your health.
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