The problem with looking at food research is that researchers only research food as a potential for business, whether it is to develop new uses for an agricultural plant that grow in abundance in their country or to work with businesses to create a new product. So it should not be surprising that when I looked for research on mangels and moringa, I found a ton for one and nothing for the other. Why? Because moringa, also known as Moringa oleifera, grows abundantly in many countries in Asia, Africa and South American and is being studies in multiple countries as the plant to save the world – I am not making that up – that was actually said in a video on the research happening in South America. The other food, mangel, also known as mangel-wurzel, is best known historically as food for pigs and cows.
Maybe if we mixed some moringa with the mangel and fed it to livestock, we could get pigs and cows that save the world… right now I am picturing a flying pig in a cape.
As far as the research on mangels – there isn’t any except for a study on fertilizers for growing mangels for livestock. However, I did find one article with discussing a beet root product and it mentioned the mangel-wurzel as a member of the family. So the most we can say about a mangel is that it probably shares health benefits similar to beets. All beets contain a family of phytonutrients called betalains. The two that have been studies the most are betanin and vulgaxanthin betalains and both have been shown to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits as well as support the liver’s role in detoxification.
The beet also contains carotenoids similar to other orange-yellow foods such as carrots and anthocyanins similar to those found in purple-blue foods like blueberries(1-7). Mangels are white on the inside with rings, which are sometimes pink. There are also yellow mangels, just as there are yellow beets.
Now I am sure that there are those who would say that the mangel’s whitish colour means it is the poor cousin to the beet and they would probably label it as the “cauliflower” of the beet family. But just like the misunderstood cauliflower, a mangel grows in nature and has to survive just like any other plant and its colour reflect its unique composition of phytonutrients, which it developed to survive. This means it is high in plant chemicals – somewhat different ones from the red beet but just as valuable.
I do hope farmers start seeing mangel as more than fodder for pigs and cows because as beets go, I like the taste of the mangel far better than a traditional beet.
Moringa, on the other hand has been studied extensively. I found a review article (the best kind of research because it reviews all the studies) that has 97 references (8). In the abstract, the researchers summed up moringa’s benefits:
“Different parts of this plant contain a profile of important minerals, and are a good source of protein, vitamins, β -carotene, amino acids and various phenolics. The Moringa plant provides a rich and rare combination of zeatin, quercetin, β -sitosterol, caffeoylquinic acid and kaempferol. In addition to its compelling water purifying powers and high nutritional value, M. oleifera is very important for its medicinal value. Various parts of this plant such as the leaves, roots, seed, bark, fruit, flowers and immature pods act as cardiac and circulatory stimulants, possess antitumor, antipyretic, antiepileptic, antiinflammatory, antiulcer, antispasmodic, diuretic, antihypertensive, cholesterol lowering, antioxidant, antidiabetic, hepatoprotective, antibacterial and antifungal activities”(8).
Moringa’s ability to save the world stems from the fact that it can purify water. 1.3 billion people still do not have safe drinking water and more than 6 million children die from diarrhea in developing countries every year(9). So a plant that can purify existing water would be of great value. The flower extract showed the highest antibacterial activity followed by the bark, leaf, seed and fruit extract. There is much more to to purifying water than just antibacterial activity(8) but the ability of moringa extract to inhibit the growth of bacteria strains also has implications for treating bacterial infections in humans and animals. (10)
Moringa is also being studied as biofuel for cars and its oil is making its way into cosmetics, due to its hydration properties and its ability to penetrate the skin, improve elasticity and provide significant antioxidant protection for the skin. Moringa oil for cosmetic use is available now in health food stores and online including Amazon. Is there anything that is not available on Amazon? The oil is highly stable and does not go rancid.
Moringa, along with helping to prevent cancer, heart disease, Diabetes and inflammation, due to similar chemical compounds found in most fruits and vegetables, also helps with diseases of the eye and ear and helps protect the liver. As the excerpt from the abstract indicates, moringa’s benefits seem to be extensive and while we do not know the exact amount to get the stated benefits yet and we have the inevitable moringa supplements to look forward to because everything ends up in a supplement, we should focus on just trying the existing powder now.
The powder is just the plant dehydrated, in its whole food form. We can add it to whatever recipes we see fit. Most people are going to add it to a smoothie. I did (ho hum) but I also added it to a muffin so do not be afraid to experiment. We can always use more nutrients and increasing in the food we already eat is the easiest way to accomplish this.
- The effect of red beet (Beta vulgaris var. rubra) fiber on alimentary hypercholesterolemia and chemically induced colon carcinogenesis in rats, Bobek P, Galbavy S, Mariassyova M. Nahrung 2000 Jun;44(3):184-7. 2000.
- Betalains, phase II enzyme-inducing components from red beetroot (Beta vulgaris L.) extracts, Elbandy MA and Abdelfadeil MG. Stability of betalain pigments from a red beetroot (Beta vulgaris). Poster Session Presentation. The First International Conference of Food Industries and Biotechnology & Associated Fair. Al-Baath University, North Sinai, Egypt. Available online at: www.albaath univ.edu.sy/foodex2010/connections/ Posters/6.pdf. 2010.
- Betalains, phase II enzyme-inducing components from red beetroot (Beta vulgaris L.) extracts, Lee CH, Wettasinghe M, Bolling BW et al. Nutr Cancer. 2005;53(1):91-103. 2005.
- Intake of vitamin A and carotenoids from the Italian population–results of an Italian total diet study, Lucarini M, Lanzi S, D’Evoli L et al.. Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 2006 May;76(3):103-9. 2006.
- Relative inhibition of lipid peroxidation, cyclooxygenase enzymes, and human tumor cell proliferation by natural food colors, Reddy MK, Alexander-Lindo RL and Nair MG. J Agric Food Chem. 2005 Nov 16;53(23):9268-73. 2005.
- Review Article: Moringa oleifera: A Food Plant with Multiple Medicinal Uses, Farooq Anwar1, Sajid Latif1, Muhammad Ashraf2 and Anwarul Hassan Gilani3*,1Department of Chemistry, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad-38040, Pakistan, 2Department of Botany, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad-38040, Pakistan.3Department of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Aga Khan University Medical College, Karachi-74800, Pakistan, Phytotherapy Research, Phytother. Res. 21, 17–25 (2007),Published online 6 November 2006 in Wiley InterScience, DOI: 10.1002/ptr.2023
- Bacteriological And Physcio – Chemical Evaluation Of Watertreated With Seed Powder Of Moringa Oleifera, Lam Kawo, A.H. and *Daneji, I.A. Department of Biological Sciences, Bayero University, Bayero Journal of Pure and Applied Sciences, 4(2): 208 – 212ISSN 2006 – 6996 2011
- Phytochemical Analysis And Antibacterial Potential Of Moringa Oleifera Lam, Sankar Narayan Sinha et al, Environmental Microbiology Research Laboratory, Department of Botany, University of Kalyani Kalyani 743125, West Bengal, India, ISSN:2249-5347 IJSID 2012, 2 (4), 401-407