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Health & Food: Fill up on vitamins with moringa soup from the Malis restaurant

Moringa is a real ‘super food’, renowned for its many powers to revive and strengthen the body’s natural defences. 

One of Malis’s flagship dishes, the delicate but delicious and nutritious Moringa Soup is prepared with pumpkin consommé and leaves from the Moringa tree to create a light and healthy vegetarian starter packed with protein, minerals, vitamins, fibre and antioxidants. Moringa is a genuine superfood, renowned for its many powers to revive and strengthen the body’s natural defences. 

Native to India, Moringa, also known as the “miracle tree” and “mother’s best friend”, is now one of the most widely cultivated trees in tropical and subtropical regions of the world, thanks to its resistance to drought. The tree is an important source of food in developing countries where malnutrition is a concern. In addition, it is currently being extensively studied for its potential as a ‘functional food’, i.e. one of those foods whose benefits go beyond nutrition and can play a role in reducing or minimising the risk of certain diseases and other health problems. 

Almost every part of the tree, including the root, bark, seeds, flowers, pods, seed oil, leaves and resin, has potential for food, agricultural or industrial use. It’s not surprising that many consider this tree to be the most useful in the world. However, it is the bright green, ovoid leaves that seem to offer the best protective and antioxidant properties.

Moringa leaves

And it’s not just marketers who like to point this out. A review of scientific journals reveals a consensus on the nutritional properties of Moringa leaves. They are a rich source of nutrients such as protein, carbohydrates, fibre, beta-carotene, vitamin C and minerals such as calcium, potassium, iron and phosphorus. Their protein content is equivalent to that of certain legumes, notably soya and kidney beans. The leaves also contain different types of compounds such as ascorbic acid (vitamin C), flavonoids, phenolic compounds and carotenoids, which act as natural antioxidants.

Moringa powder

But what are antioxidants? In short, they are molecules that have the ability to prevent or delay certain types of cellular damage in the body, generally caused by elements called free radicals. Free radicals are molecules in the body that have become ‘unbalanced’ and highly reactive as a result of factors such as smoking. The antioxidant molecule has the ability to ‘rebalance’ the unleashed free radical and therefore neutralise its damaging potential. 

Things can get confusing for consumers, as many like to promote moringa leaves as a specific way of fighting or preventing disease thanks to its antioxidant properties. However, while the results of decades of dietary research suggest that eating greater quantities of antioxidant-rich foods could help protect against disease, no one has been able to establish a direct and specific link between the two.  

Research has shown that those who eat more antioxidant-rich vegetables and fruit have a lower risk of disease. However, it is not yet known whether these results are linked to the amount of antioxidants in vegetables and fruit, to other components of these foods, to other factors in people’s diets or to other lifestyle choices. 

The ‘healing powers of Moringa’ are probably not unfounded, but for now let’s just say that this soup makes a delicious, light starter for a meal at Malis. Perhaps it should be considered as part of a summer ‘detox’. 

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