Move over kale, quinoa, and chia seeds – there’s a new superfood in town. Actually, there are two. Not only is this great news for you, but it’s great news for the entire developing world.
The moringa leaf of the Moringa Oleifera tree, grown in parts Asia and Africa, has incredible nutritional benefits. Gram for gram, moringa powder has twice as much protein as yogurt, four times as much Vitamin A as carrots, three times as much potassium as bananas, four times as much calcium as milk, and seven times as much vitamin C as oranges. While this may be a great add to your morning smoothie, it has huge implications for those living in developing countries who are undernourished, sick, pregnant, or living with HIV/AIDS. In areas where vitamin and mineral rich foods don’t grow, or are too expensive, moringa leaves are a great dietary supplement for infants and growing children, especially those with chronic or severe malnutrition.
For those living with HIV/AIDS and limited access to medical facilities, or who can’t afford to make the trip to the doctor when they’re feeling ill, moringa leaves can also help prevent some of the worst side affects and complications that accompany the virus. This miracle tree is gaining popularity, especially among Peace Corps Volunteers and development workers, and life-changing projects are arising. Take Kuli Kuli, for example.
Although limited to the region of southern Africa, the fruit of the baobab tree is also a nutritional powerhouse. With six times the vitamin C of oranges, six times the antioxidants of blueberries, six times the potassium of bananas, more magnesium than coconut water, twice as much calcium of milk, and a healthy dose of fiber and iron, this fruit is making waves in Africa’s developing countries. Within a dry, gourd-like shell lies a white, chalky pulp that is typically mixed with milk and sugar to create yogurt, or the seeds can be sucked on like hard candies. Regardless of how it’s consumed, baobab fruit is an instrumental addition to the diet for those who are malnourished, living with HIV/AIDS, and living in poverty.
The best aspect of both of these superfoods: sustainability. The moringa tree and the baobab tree are not only growing in our very backyard, they can grow in dry, hot places where many other plants can’t survive. While it may be just a superfood fad for the Western world, these plants provide a solution to the ongoing issues of malnutrition and inaccessibility, as well as potential income generation and security in developing countries.
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