FFE Magazine

Malunggay: The Miracle Food

We know malunggay as the leafy plant that tastes so good in Filipino favourites like tinola (chicken soup) guisadong monggo (sautéed mung bean) and halaan (clam soup). However, the most important aspect of this “miracle food” is its highly nutritious content. After all, it wasn’t designated as a popular countermeasure against malnutrition in many parts of the world for nothing.


Very fresh Malunggay leaves

                Do you know just what kinds of benefits you’re bound to get by eating malunggay? The following is a rundown of the known health benefits of malunggay.

Nutrients in malunggay

                The malunggay has been long used in traditional medicine in the Philippines and several countries with good basis. Research has revealed that it contains the following nutrients and more:

  • Protein
  • Calcium
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin A
  • Potassium

                Not only is malunggay rich in a variety of vitamins and minerals, the plant has also been found to be packed with higher levels of these nutrients compared to other food sources:

Photo: holistikhealth

                A study in Ghana by researchers from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology have also compared 100g of malunggay with 100g of other nutritional sources and found that it contains more nutrients by weight than rich sources of calcium and iron like milk, chicken liver, and beef tenderloin.

                There’s more to the amazing plant that just this. Traditional medicine and modern researchers have found a number of short and long-term health benefits connected to eating malunggay.

Anti-infection, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal

                Malunggay contains pterygospermin, a compound that has antimicrobial, antibacterial and antifungal properties. Poultices or drinks made of malunggay leaves are effective against some respiratory, skin and intestine infectors like E. coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus and Salmonella typhimurium.

Anti-inflammatory

                Traditional and modern medicines have also seen the anti-inflammatory effects of malunggay. Extracts from seeds especially have shown to prevent inflammation such as arthritis, rheumatism, joint pains and edema.

Anti-cancer

                Malunggay contains benzyl isothiocyanate that is said to prevent cancer tumors from growing. The compound also has a chemo-protective ability which strengthens cells so that they can tolerate chemotherapy. The plant has also been considered in prostate cancer and skin cancer treatment.

Reproductive health

                Traditional medicine in the Philippines and India’s Ayurveda system also use malunggay to help nursing mothers lactate and as an aphrodisiac that helps in sexual activity.

Where to get malunggay

                What we know as malunggay is also called by other names in different countries. Common names in English include moringa (Moringa oleifera), drumstick tree, horseradish tree, and ben oil tree. Markets in the Philippines teem with them, finding them difficult in the cold countries of Europe. Sometimes, if you are lucky you would find a Filipino shop selling dry malunggay. But it is normally a very specialized Filipino shop catering only to Filipino products.


Malunggay trees are abundant in the Philippines

                The cheapest and easiest way to get malunggay is by growing them. However, the plant may not thrive at temperatures below 32F or 0C if precautions are not taken.

                In Europe, malunggay can be grown in an area where the temperature is about 70F or 21C. Putting them in greenhouse-type set ups is the best way to protect the plant from freezing. Malunggay also needs plenty of warmth and light, so indoor pots should be surrounded by lights.


Malunggay flowers are also edible.

                Malunggay leaves, fruit and flowers can be cooked for soups. Boiling the leaves can make tea or mouth washes for sore throats. Grounded seeds, leaves and bark can be turned into poultices to be applied on the skin. Extracting malunggay oil through the seeds is also possible through pressing, however, this set up may be complicated for home projects.

                Malunggay supplements are also available for shipping. These supplements come in the form of powders, capsules or oil.

                In powder form it is good for cooking, as a condiment for dishes or for tea. Capsules can be taken directly, is handier for travellers, and is a good alternative for those who do not enjoy the taste of malunggay in powder form. Malunggay in oil form or ben oil meanwhile can be used as a skin moisturiser.

                Buyers can search for and visit online shops like Sun Angel Malunggay to order products straight from the manufacturers and distributors to Europe.


How else have you used malunggay in the past? Where do you buy your malunggay in Europe? Share your experiences with us by dropping your thoughts at the comment box below!

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