It's all cooli
Reading on, I could see Kuli Kuli is deeply involved and committed to the planet, including the ethical production and promotion of Moringa. If you’ve done our Super Nutrition eCourse, you’ll be familiar with this little number already. If you haven’t, be prepared for it to cross your digital path soon, it’s going to be huge.
But this super food story is a little different. You won’t find the pillaging of rain forests or tainting of traditional communities. Kuli Kuli is involved in a highly ethical and inspiring relationship with their source and farmers.
And so we arrive at this week’s blog topic: moringa, aka Moringa oleifera. But — yes you must know me by now, there’s always a but — I wanted to frame this blog in a personal way. I wanted to share how awesome it is to stumble (well not really, I believe the universe sends us these gifts) on these unique organisations, their products, and their intention. I often say, it's the intention with which we do things that is important.
Let’s get to know moringa
Check it out: Moringa. It's a humble little number; It doesn’t shout, ‘Hey, look at me,’ with some obtuse-looking flower or a leaf that screams self-importance. Moringa is a subtle plant. You might see it in parts of Africa and Asia (particularly the sub-Himalayan areas), and more recently, moringa is found in regions across South America. While moringa might be new to you, it has a long history. Traditional applications of moringa ranges from using the oil from its seeds in skincare products to the whole plant, fresh or dried, in a host of recipes.
If you’re like me, you’ll be wondering if it tastes anything like kale. You’ll be pleased to know that it doesn't, yeah! Nope, no wet mop taste here, folks (I know I can hear some of you saying 'kale isn’t that bad'). Not to brag, but Moringa appears to have a more diverse and dense nutrient profile than kale, but more on this soon.
Kuli Kuli, founded by Lisa Curtis, is named after a popular African peanut snack. Lisa worked in the Peace Corps in Niger… I know, right? You already love this gal! As a vegetarian in a developing region, Lisa found it challenging to stay on top of her health. Through conversations with villagers, she was introduced to… yes you guessed it: moringa. It’s probably no surprise that Lisa was inspired to share her moringa experience. What I really want to share with you is the way in which she has done it, and it’s no ordinary journey.
One of the top reasons people come to us is through their own journey to wellness. We have so many wonderful personal stories of ‘healer heal thy self,’ and Kuli Kuli is a great example. Out of the beautiful synergy of Lisa’s journey into health, while working to support some of the planets most impoverished communities, Kuli Kuli took root. Kuli Kuli is a social enterprise and benefit corporation comprising of a network of small farmers. Through its crowd-funded campaigns and impact-investors, Kuli Kuli is able to invest in the empowerment of women and farmers, promote healthier communities, sustainably grow its moringa supply chain, and build a more compassionate world.
More on moringa
Moringa is nutritionally-dense with a diverse nutrient profile. Its compounds include a range of flavonoids, including glucosides, rutinosides, kaempferol, quercetin and more. The actual fatty acid content varies across different parts of the plant. For example, moringa leaves are rich in palmitic acid (yes, the same as coconut oil) and linolenic (one of our lovely omega 3 fatty acids). The standout minerals include potassium, magnesium (great for those of you who’s legs are twitching as your reading this), calcium (also great for nerve relaxation) and small amounts of selenium in the whole seed (Amaglo et al., 2010).
More-inga ‘on the table’
One of the super cool things that sets moringa apart from many other plant foods is that it’s low in oxalates. That is cool, because…? Because, that means that many of the nutrients in moringa have a better bioavailability than many other plant foods that have higher oxalates. Oxalates prevent access to, and the uptake of, nutrients and compounds in plants; and they can be tough on the kidneys (Yang et al., 2006). Unless you have a moringa tree in your backyard, you’ll find one of the best ways to incorporate morninga into your diet is by using it in powdered form. Kuli Kuli have some fabulous recipes which we’ll be trialling, along with some of our own nutritionist-extraordinaire options using Kuli’s Organic Pure Moringa powder, stay tuned.
What does all this moringa’ing mean for me?
Great question! Moringa has an increasingly impressive array of studies pointing to a long list of health benefits from its consumption. For example, moringa (aqueous extract) has been found to have an antioxidant effect as well as a wide-spectrum antibacterial action that is potentially effective enough to prevent gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria (Peixoto et al., 2011).
Moringa is reputed to have a range of health benefits, often due to its antioxidant capacity. For example, the flavonoid pigments (kaempferol, rhamnetin, isoquercitrin and kaempferitirin) as well as the glycoside compounds (glucosinolates, isothiocyanates, beta-sitosterol etc) appear to have an anticancer effect in-vitro (that’s in a test tube). It seems that moringa leaf extract exerts a significant inhibitory effect on human pancreatic carcinoma cells. Although, at this stage, it’s not yet clear just which compounds exert which effects; it’s possible that it’s a synergistic effect and that isolating compounds may not yield better results.
But wait there’s more… another small study (only 11 subjects) found that moringa, when applied locally to the skin, where the sebaceous glands were overactive and secreting more than usual amounts of sebum (creating an overly oily skin), can potentially normalise the skin. Seems moringa may be a great option for skin conditions such as psoriasis and acne. For our biochemists out there, it appears that a number of the compounds in moringa, including epigallocatechin gallate, myrecetin, quercticin, genistein, kempferol, inhibit the effect of 5 alpha-reductase in sebaceous glands involved in sebum production (Ali et al., 2013).
Moringa tells a story of wonderful evidence-based nutritional and health support, but let’s not forget that much of this simply confirms what many traditional cultures have known for a very long time. The Kuli Kuli story imparts with us a confidence that we in the west can do right by people with traditional knowledge and ‘products’ that we can all benefit from without it costing the world.
So grab some moringa and add it to salads, blend it into your smoothies and brekky bowls, add some leaves to your stews and curries, or enjoy moringa in a soup or a cold tea, because you’ve everything to gain and nothing to lose.
We all have a role to play in community health, the only question is how do we play this role? Through intelligent, evidence-based inquiry we can understand how to health coach to support others in taking on positive behaviour change.