The humble malunggay

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

ALSO known as the Miracle Tree as the leaves, pods, fruits, flowers, roots and bark of the tree can be utilized. It is also referred to as Drumstick Tree by the Britishers. In the Philippines, it is referred to as malunggay.

What are the health benefits of this plant?

Scientific research confirms that these humble leaves are a powerhouse of nutritional value. Gram for gram, malunggay leaves contain: seven times the vitamin C in oranges, four times the calcium in milk, four times the vitamin A in carrots, two times the protein in milk and three times the potassium in bananas.


There are many benefits from a malunggay tree, but the health benefits are the most important. Research has shown that various parts of the moringa tree can be effective in a significant number of health concerns. Here’s a quick look at a few of them:

• It is rich in vitamin A. It contains four times more Vitamin A or beta-carotene than carrots. Hence, it is a weapon against blindness.

• It is also a rich source of vitamin C many times more than oranges.

• Normally milk is said to be a rich source of calcium but the amount of calcium present in malunggay leaves is way higher than in milk.

• The malunggay leaves are said to contain two times the protein present in milk.

• Bananas are a rich source of potassium. But malunggay leaves contain several times more potassium than bananas.

• Along with potassium, zinc is also found in large quantities in malunggay leaves.

• If malunggay leaves were to be eaten by one and all, the world will be free of anemia as it contains three times more iron than spinach.

• With all the junk food eaten these days, many people face problems of high cholesterol. Malunggay helps in balancing the cholesterol levels in the body.

• Essential Amino acids are also found in malunggay leaves.

• It is also said to balance sugar levels, hence it is helpful in the fight against diabetes.

• The body's natural defense mechanism increases with the consumption of malunggay in the daily diet pattern. Since it is an immunity-stimulant, it is prescribed for AIDS afflicted patients.

• Its leaves can be consumed to stimulate metabolism.

• It is also said to have digestive powers.

• It is a nutrition booster and is known to promote a feeling of well-being in people.

• If you are looking for non-sugar based energy, then its leaves is the answer. Thus, it will also help in the weight loss process.

• The cell structure in the body is stimulated by the leaves.

• It is especially useful for lactating mothers. The consumption of THE leaves has shown dramatic increase in the quantity of breast milk.

• It is also famous for its anti-bacterial properties.

• The paste of the Leaves is said to beautify the skin and is hence applied by women regularly to their faces as a facial. Leave it on till it dries then wash it off. You will feel your skin to be soft and smooth.

• It protects the liver and kidneys.

• It can also be used as a water purifier.

This leafy green veggie boasts of many health and medicinal benefits.

“Malunggay’s young leaves are edible and are commonly cooked and eaten like spinach or used to make soups and salads. They are an exceptionally good source of provitamin A, vitamins B and C, minerals (in particular iron), and the sulphur-containing amino acids methionine and cystine,"

Filipinos use malunggay in making halaan or clam soup or a vegetable dish called ginataang malunggay. But adventurous cooks and chefs have started adding malunggay to pasta dishes, as well as to muffins, bread and polvoron. It can also be ground to a powder and used for seasoning sauces.

The roots and flowers have uses too. The roots from young plants can also be dried and ground for use as a hot seasoning base with a flavor similar to that of horseradish. The flowers can be eaten after being lightly blanched or raw as a tasty addition to salads.

Malunggay as medicine

Studies have shown that malunggay can be used to treat a number of illnesses. Malunggay leaves are good for headache, bleeding from a shallow cut, bacterial and fungal skin complaints, anti-inflammatory gastric ulcers, diarrhea, and malnutrition. This is one reason why the government has used malunggay in its feeding and nutrition programs.

Internal organs are said to benefit from the vegetable. Malunggay pods are dewormers, good for treating liver and spleen problems, pain of the joints, and malnutrition. Likewise, malunggay seeds treat arthritis, rheumatism, gout, cramp, STD, boils and urinary problems, and is a relaxant for epilepsy.

There have been claims that malunggay can be used to lower blood pressure as well as its being an anti-tumor plant.

And so dear readers, those are the many multifaceted benefits of this wonderful godgiven plant so ablundant and inexpensive in the markets of our country and especially here in our beautiful Baguio.

There are available malunggay tablets in drugstores, but why buy the pill when the fresh leaves taste so wonderful and is so versatile? Doesn’t stand to reason now, does it? Go to the market, take a walk and buy 2 bunches, better.

Cooking with the versatile plant.

Having given such scientific intel about the malunggay, let’s explore the cooking of the wonderful plant.

The most common way pinays use the leaves, pods and stalks is in the clam or tulya soup or maybe chicken with sayote when whe the wife is pregnant. But as we have noted, you can add it to anything. In salads, just steam the leaves on top of your rice for 1 or 2 minutes and add them to the salad whether it be macaroni, or leafy lettuce and tomatoes or cabbage slaw or chicken or tuna. We can do that because by itself, malunggay leaves taste so good.

For our Pièce de résistance, we introduce you to a Pesto made with malunggay leaves, whether partially or entirely. Pesto, as you know, can be used in spaghetti, pochero, afritada, or as a flavoring. The recipe follows.


• 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves and an equal amount of malunggay leaves

• 2 cloves garlic

• 1/4 cup pine nuts

• 2/3 cup canola or virgin olive oil, divided into two.

• kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

• 1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino or parmesacho or queso de bola cheese


Combine the basil, malunggay leaves garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped, not more than 2 seconds. Add 1/2 cup of the oil and process until incorporated but still coarse and the ingredients not too homogenized. Season with salt and pepper.

If used immediately, add all the remaining oil and wait until smooth. Transfer the pesto to a large serving bowl and mix in the cheese.

If to be stored frozen, transfer to an air-tight container and drizzle remaining oil over the top. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw and stir in cheese.

This recipe came from Ms. Bartolome in her U.P. Class of Speech Communications 10 (Speech to Inform)


Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on October 17, 2012.


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