Inflammation and Your Health
If you live an active, health-conscious lifestyle, you probably already know that inflammation can be hazardous to your health. Furthermore, if you are a regular follower of our blog, you might know that moringa is a powerful anti-inflammatory food. Despite this, moringa’s anti-inflammatory prowess has been somewhat overshadowed by the relative popularity of another superfood… turmeric. As an anti-inflammatory, moringa may be more effective at reducing inflammation than turmeric. Moringa was recently featured in an article on wellandgood.com for it’s anti-inflammatory prowess and overall nutritional density.
But what is inflammation and why should you be concerned about it? Why should you include anti-inflammatory foods like moringa in your diet? Inflammation can occur internally or externally and can come in many forms, including redness, pain, heat, and swelling. For many people, achy joints and muscles are the first thing that comes to mind as examples of how inflammation presents itself.
Chronic vs Acute Inflammation
Inflammation comes in two forms: acute and chronic. Acute inflammation is simple; it is part of your body’s immune response when you injure yourself. Without it, wounds and injuries would not heal. Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is a much different story. When inflammation persists in the body without purpose, it can lead to serious health issues.
In a previous article, we highlighted the role of inflammation in diseases from dementia, to cancer, to heart disease. Chronic inflammation is caused by all sorts of negative outside influences, such as poor diet, lack of exercise, and even too much stress. In fact, chronic inflammation is essentially the root of many illnesses. Therefore, it makes sense that a diet rich in whole foods with anti-inflammatory properties could help keep you healthy and happy.
Putting Moringa to the Test
There are already more than enough reasons to make moringa a regular part of your diet. To give a quick snapshot, moringa has twice the protein, three times the calcium, and four times as much iron as kale. Beyond these amazing nutritional properties, research is now pointing to the fact that moringa should be your anti-inflammatory of choice. But just how strong of an anti-inflammatory is moringa? We decided to compare it to turmeric in an anti-inflammatory battle royale.
Comparing Anti-Inflammatory Superfoods
In order to compare the anti-inflammatory properties of two different foods, we must first understand how the foods actually reduce inflammation. Turmeric is a root, related to ginger, and is commonly used in food and cooking. Its principle anti-inflammatory compound is a curcuminoid phenol compound known as curcumin. Curcumin is also what gives turmeric its yellow color.
Moringa is similar to broccoli in that it is a cruciferous vegetable and contains glucosinolates that can form isothiocyanates. Isothiocyanates can also be found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and kale. Isothiocyanates are readily absorbed in the body and have been well-studied in broccoli.
Emerging research on moringa has shown that the isothiocyanates in moringa are even more stable and bioactive than those found in broccoli. These compounds reduce inflammation by reducing the production of nitric oxide (NO) and inflammatory markers. Additionally, they are able to activate a detoxification pathway known as Nrf2.
A recent study found that the isothiocyanates were more effective at reducing inflammation markers than curcumin. In the test, Curcumin reduces nitric oxide (NO) production by 5-30% while similar concentrations of moringa isothiocyanates reduced NO by 72-93%. Moringa was also more effective at reducing concentrations of three different inflammatory markers including iNOS, IL-1β, and IL-6.
Turmeric is not Readily Absorbed
Turmeric is not as easily absorbed when eaten on its own, which brings to question its bioavailability. One of the best ways to solve this problem is to eat turmeric in conjunction with black pepper. Black pepper contains an alkaloid called piperine, which significantly boosts the body’s ability to absorb turmeric. However, this can be a hassle as it takes a few hours after consumption for piperine’s effects to peak. Additionally, if you don’t have the time to eat pepper in advance, there aren’t many cases in which black pepper and turmeric go well together. Finally, despite turmeric’s popularity as an anti-inflammatory, there isn’t enough research that has proven clinically the anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin.
Moringa has Higher Bioavailability
Isothiocyanates may be more bioactive and easily absorbed in the body than curcumin. No need to worry about pre-gaming your moringa with pepper because your body can absorb it all by itself. Moringa also gives you a host of other health benefits beyond what your typical green vegetable is capable of providing. This is in part because while most greens are 90% water, moringa is only 80% water, making it more nutrient-dense than most leafy greens.
Of course, this isn’t to say turmeric isn’t good for you (it is a superfood after all). However, in terms of anti-inflammatory foods, moringa may be a simpler and more versatile ingredient to add to your anti-inflammatory lifestyle. If you’re looking for a natural solution to reducing inflammation, add moringa to your favorite smoothies, shakes, and any sweet or savory dish.
Making the Most of Moringa
So there you have it, moringa beats out anti-inflammatory superpower, turmeric at its own game. It’s just one more reason to eat moringa every day as part of a healthy diet. Still not convinced? Eating moringa can also help reduce blood sugar and bad cholesterol. For more information on moringa’s health benefits, check out Kuli Kuli’s popular Battle of the Greens series.
Looking for simple ways to include moringa in your diet? Check out our Moringa Anti-Inflammatory Smoothie or the vast offering of #MoringaInspired recipes and smoothies on our website. Because of moringa’s versatility, you can use it to improve the nutritional quality of so many meals. Try moringa in a bar, as an energy shot, or in our new moringa greens and protein powder.
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