Marvelous Moringa Pesto Recipe: A Timeless Classic With a Healthy Twist

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Recipe by
Dr. Mercola

Basil, crushed garlic and pine nuts may seem like
ordinary ingredients, but they combine to form a well-loved Italian sauce —
pesto. Derived from the Genoese word “pesta,” meaning “to pound or to crush,”
pesto is often used as a pasta sauce, although it can be utilized as a spread,
dip or salad dressing as well. Sometimes, pesto can also accompany steak,
poultry or fish.[i]

While the classic Italian recipe is still delicious
after all these years, you can surely add variety to boost flavor and
nutrition. For example, this homemade pesto recipe adds moringa leaves to the
tandem of basil and parsley, making the sauce more vibrant, flavorful and


1/2 cup moringa
leaves, removed from the stems

1/2 cup basil leaves

Handful of fresh parsley

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 clove of garlic peeled

1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese

Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

1/3 cup of extra virgin oil

Optional: Himalayan salt, to taste (optional)


1. Add
all ingredients, except olive oil, to the bowl of a food processor.

2. Process
until everything is well-minced and blended.

3. Leave
processor in the “on” position and slowly drizzle in the olive oil until

4. Taste
for seasoning.

5. Cover
tightly and refrigerate overnight.

Make the Most
Out of Moringa

Moringa’s status as a superfood is continuously
growing because of various research that highlights its effectiveness in
delivering important benefits to your body.

Moringa leaves come from the fast-growing Moringa
oleifera tree that’s native to South Asia and is also found in tropical areas. These
leaves, which have a flavor similar to a radish, are powerful sources of
nutrition and have been extensively used in traditional medicine.

In fact, the Ayurvedic system highlights moringa’s ability
in curing or preventing at least 300 diseases.[ii]
Researchers have been investigating the full extent of moringa’s benefits to
the body, with results yielding a lot of positives, as shown in the video


As you can see, you will truly benefit from adding
moringa leaves to your diet, since they are very nutritious, courtesy of the
high amounts of vitamins, minerals, essential amino acids and more. In fact,
100 grams of dry moringa leaves are said to contain:[iii]

9 times the protein of yogurt

10 times the vitamin A of carrots

15 times the potassium of bananas

17 times the calcium of milk

12 times the vitamin C of oranges

25 times the iron of spinach

Another vital component in moringa is fiber, which
is full of nutrients that are not digested in your gut, but which serve to help
your colon function. It has been shown to work like a mop to your intestines that
assists with cleaning up “extra grunge” from an unhealthy diet.[iv]
Antioxidants like
vitamin C, beta-carotene, quercetin and chlorogenic acid are also abundant in
moringa, because of its high polyphenol content. According to a study in Asia
Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention, these are found to:[v]

… [E]xhibit strong antioxidant activity against free radicals, prevent
oxidative damage to major biomolecules and give significant protection against
oxidative damage.”

Another study discovered that women who took 1 1/2 teaspoons of moringa leaf
powder daily for three months had significantly increased blood levels of
antioxidants.[vi] An
article published in Fox News Health discussed the other beneficial components
of moringa:[vii]

is rich in a variety of health-enhancing compounds, including moringine,
moringinine, the potent antioxidants quercetin, kaempferol, rhamnetin and
various polyphenols. The leaves seem to be getting the most market attention,
notably for their use in reducing high blood pressure, eliminating water weight
and lowering cholesterol.

show that moringa leaves possess antitumor and anticancer activities, due in
part to a compound called niaziminin. Preliminary experimentation also shows
activity against the Epstein-Barr virus. Compounds in the leaf appear to help
regulate thyroid function, especially in cases of overactive thyroid. Further
research points to antiviral activity in cases of Herpes simplex 1.”

Apart from these nutrients, studies have shown that
moringa can potentially lead to these major health benefits:

decrease blood sugar levels:
Beneficial plant compounds in the leaves, like
isothiocyanates, may be responsible for moringa’s potential anti-diabetic

One study
discovered that women who took 7 grams of moringa leaf powder daily for three
months were able to decrease their fasting blood sugar levels by 13.5 percent.[ix]
Another study showed that adding 50 grams of moringa leaves to a meal lowered
the increase in blood sugar levels among diabetic patients by 21 percent.[x]

Isothiocyanates, flavonoids and phenolic acids in moringa
leaves, pods and seeds were proven to have anti-inflammatory properties. The
Epoch Times emphasizes:[xi]

“The tree’s strong anti-inflammatory action is
traditionally used to treat stomach ulcers. Moringa oil (sometimes called Ben
oil) has been shown to protect the liver from chronic inflammation. The oil is
unique in that, unlike most vegetable oils, moringa resists rancidity … It is
also used topically to treat antifungal problems [and] arthritis, and is an
excellent skin moisturizer.”

healthy cholesterol levels:
Moringa can help with lowering your body’s
cholesterol levels. An animal study proved that moringa’s effects were
comparable to those of simvastatin, a cholesterol-lowering drug. Research published
in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology also highlighted that:[xii]

Recent studies demonstrated its
hypocholesterolemic effect. … In hypercholesterol-fed rabbits, at 12 weeks of
treatment, it significantly (P<0.05) lowered the cholesterol levels and
reduced the atherosclerotic plaque formation to about 50 and 86
[percent], respectively. These effects
were at degrees comparable to those of simvastatin.

… The results indicate that this plant possesses
antioxidant, hypolipidaemic, and antiatherosclerotic activities, and has
therapeutic potential for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases.”

protect against arsenic toxicity:
Moringa leaves and seeds may help the
body in combating the effects of arsenic toxicity, especially in commonly
contaminated staple foods like rice.[xiii]
A study published in Cell Biology noted that:[xiv]

“Co-administration of M. oleifera [moringa] seed
powder (250 and 500 mg/kg, orally) with arsenic significantly increased the
activities of SOD [superoxide dismutase], catalase and GPx with elevation in
reduced GSH level in tissues (liver, kidney and brain).

These changes were accompanied by approximately 57 [percent], 64 [percent], and 17 [percent]
decrease in blood ROS [reactive oxygen species], liver metallothionein (MT),
and lipid peroxidation respectively in animal co-administered with
oleifera and arsenic.

Another interesting observation has been the reduced
uptake of arsenic in soft tissues (55
[percent] in blood, 65 [percent] in liver, 54 [percent]
in kidneys, and 34
[percent] in brain) following administration of
M. oleifera seed powder (particularly at the dose of 500 mg/kg).

It can thus be concluded from the present study that
concomitant administration of
oleifera seed powder with arsenic
could significantly protect animals from oxidative stress and in reducing
tissue arsenic concentration. Administration of
M. oleifera seed powder thus could also be beneficial
during chelation therapy …”

antibacterial and detoxification properties:
Isothiocyanates in moringa are
responsible for the herb’s antibacterial properties that can help eliminate the
H. pylori bacteria. Plus, moringa can also be utilized as a detoxification tool
because of its ability to attach itself to harmful materials in the body.

On the other
hand, initial research showed that moringa seeds can work better in purifying
water, compared to the conventional synthetic materials being utilized today.
According to researchers from Uppsala University:[xv]

“A protein in the seeds binds to impurities causing
them to aggregate so that the clusters can be separated from the water. The
study … published in the journal Colloids and Surfaces A takes a step toward
optimization of the water purification process.[xvi]

Researchers in Uppsala together with colleagues from
Lund as well as Namibia, Botswana, France, and the USA have studied the
microscopic structure of aggregates formed with the protein.

The results show that the clusters of material (flocs)
that are produced with the protein are much more tightly packed than those
formed with conventional flocculating agents. This is better for water
purification as such flocs are more easily separated.”

Moringa is highly versatile — Add fresh moringa
leaves to salads or sauces
(like in today’s recipe), blend into smoothies or steam them like spinach. You
can also use moringa powder either as a supplement, or added to smoothies,
soups or other foods. However, since it has a distinct “green” flavor, try
adding it slowly to your meals first. Cold-pressed moringa oil or ben oil is
another good option, although it’s expensive (it’s said to cost around 15 times
more than olive oil).[xvii]

While you can grow a moringa tree if you have the
space, you’re better off buying leaves or powder at a local health food market.
Although I cultivated a moringa tree for two years, I found that it grew like a
weed. Take note that harvesting moringa and removing the tiny leaves from the
stem can be tedious and time-consuming, so you’ll need a lot of patience while
doing it.

Basil and
Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Pesto’s Powerful Duo

Traditional pesto sauce uses basil and olive oil as
a base. These ingredients not only provide heaps of flavor to a simple sauce, but
can deliver positive impacts to your body as well.

Basil contains vitamin K that may be able to assist
with bone strengthening and mineralization, and in producing clotting factors
in your blood.[xviii]
It also has vitamin A that can provide beta-carotenes, powerful antioxidants
that play a role in protecting the cells in your body from free radical damage
and help in preventing atherosclerosis, heart attacks
and stroke.

However, flavonoids and volatile oils in basil are
known to provide the most benefits. The former works on the cellular level,
while volatile oils like estragole, linalool, cineole, eugenol, sabinene,
myrcene and limonene were proven to possess antibacterial properties that can
help resist growth of various harmful bacteria strains.

On the other hand, high-quality extra virgin olive
oil contains healthy monounsaturated fats that can assist with lowering your
risk for heart disease, and benefit insulin levels and blood sugar control, possibly
reducing your risk for type 2 diabetes.

High-quality olive oil is
a good source of important vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants like vitamin E
(alpha-tocopherol), carotenoids and phenolic compounds.[xix]
Just refrain from heating this oil to keep it from oxidizing.

Unfortunately, the boom in the olive oil industry
has resulted in the production of unhealthy and low-quality oils. To ensure you
get your money’s worth, take note of these important characteristics to look
for when buying olive oil:[xx]

Oils should be from the current year’s harvest and must have labels
like “early harvest” or “fall harvest”

Olive oil must be stored in clean and temperature-controlled
stainless steel containers that are topped with an inert gas like nitrogen to
keep oxygen at bay

Olive oil should smell and taste fresh and fruity. Avoid oils that taste
moldy, cooked, greasy, meaty, metallic or cardboard-like

Olive oil must be stored in bottles or containers that protect
against light, such as darkened glass, stainless steel or clear glass encased
in cardboard

The label has quality seals from the California Olive Oil Council and
the Australian Olive Association. Another good option is “USDA certified

The label “extra virgin” is a must in good-quality olive oil. Oils
with labels like “pure” or “light” oil, “olive oil” or “olive pomace oil” are
likely to have undergone chemical processing

Avoid common but meaningless terms used on olive oil labels today
like “first pressed” and “cold pressed”

Source:: Mercola Health Articles