As a soon-to-be mom, what you eat matters. Good nutrition increases the chances of a healthy pregnancy, as well as helps your body recover postpartum. Your diet should consist of healthy fats, iron, and calcium, among others1. But there’s one superfood that is packed with all necessary nutrients. Read on to know why malunggay should be part of your go-to food.
Malunggay or Moringa oleifera has been around for centuries and is used mainly for its nutritional and medicinal properties2. In the Philippines, it was named a national vegetable3. It can be integrated in different ways since all parts of the plant are useful. It’s a staple ingredient in many Filipino cuisines. Moreover, malunggay is said to combat hunger and malnutrition4. This is partly because of its nutrient profile: It is loaded with 90+ nutrients, including all nine essential amino acids5.
Interestingly, malunggay offers unique benefits to new and soon-to-be moms. For example, boiled malunggay leaves can aid in milk production among nursing mothers6. Of course this should be taken with other superfood such as spinach, legumes, and fatty fish for maximum nutrition. So what are the other benefits of this miracle plant?
Helps replenish lost nutrients
After childbirth, the last thing on your mind will probably be your own health. But since your body will be in such a fragile state during recovery, you need all the help you can get. You won’t be able to take care of your child if you are not in the right condition yourself.
If you’ve been incorporating malunggay in your diet while pregnant, continue doing so even after delivery. Malunggay helps replenish lost nutrients which boosts energy levels and aids in postpartum recovery. While highly nutritious, it’s not ideal for you to eat, let's say, 100 grams of malunggay leaves in one sitting7. Therefore, it’s best to consume it in powdered form—you add it to your smoothie or food, or drink it as tea.
Constipation is one of the most common digestive problems during pregnancy8. To combat this, a high fiber diet with increased water intake is recommended. Fiber is essential for a healthy gut. Moreover, it is proven to be beneficial for a healthy pregnancy. According to a study, women who consume fiber-rich food can give birth to babies with low incidence of getting asthma. Malunggay is a rich source of fiber which can help relieve constipation and other stomach-related pains.
Normalizes blood sugar levels
Taking malunggay can be beneficial for diabetic moms or those who have had gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes is the sudden spike in blood sugar level during pregnancy and goes away after childbirth9. Vitamin B7 in malunggay can help your body regulate insulin and maintain a normal sugar level.
Promotes hair growth
You’ve probably heard about pregnancy glow by now. Thanks to your elevated hormones and increased blood volume, you may notice your skin glowing, as well as a thicker, shiny set of hair10. Unfortunately, this can reverse suddenly during the postpartum period.
While nutritional supplements can strengthen hair follicles, malunggay leaves can also do the trick. Nutrients found in malunggay such as iron, zinc, amino acids, and vitamin E can prevent postpartum hair fall. And since it’s natural, your body can absorb this easily.
Strengthens immune system
It’s already implied that you will be busier than ever after the child arrives. To keep up with the demands of motherhood, you need to be in tip-top shape. Malunggay can help up your immune system so you won’t be susceptible to easy-to-get illnesses such as coughs, colds, and fatigue.
Malunggay is a powerhouse of nutrients. This plant is most beneficial for new and soon-to-be moms. Almost all of its parts offer an abundance of health benefits to meet your needs and that of your child. Even after childbirth, continue to incorporate malunggay into your diet so you can recover faster and enjoy this new chapter of your life. It is also a galactagogue which can help increase breastmilk volume11. Taking care of yourself is just as important as looking after your kid. Finally, make sure that you also consult with your doctor about the food that is safe for you to eat, and how much you should consume.
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1 Eating During Pregnancy (n.d). Retrieved September 11, 2020 from https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/eating-pregnancy.html
2 Moringa oleifera (horse radish tree) (n.d). Retrieved September 14, 2020 from https://www.cabi.org/isc/datasheet/34868
3 ‘Malunggay’: The country’s vegetable icon (2018). Retrieved September 11, 2020 from https://businessmirror.com.ph/2018/10/04/malunggay-the-countrys-vegetabl...
4 Moringa: The herbal gold to combat malnutrition (2011). Retrieved September 14, 2020 from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/216463190_Moringa_The_herbal_go...
5 Moringa leaf powder (n.d). Retrieved September 11, 2020 from https://livelovewell.org/superfoods/moringa/#:~:text=Moringa%20Oleifera%...
6 Malunggay (Moringa Oleifera) Herbal Medicine (n.d). Retrieved September 14, 2020 from http://www.medicalhealthguide.com/articles/malunggay.htm#:~:text=Malungg...
7 Moringa (n.d). Retrieved September 14, 2020 from https://www.vivahealth.org.uk/a-z/moringa
8 Problems of the Digestive System (n.d.). Retrieved September 14, 2020 from https://www.acog.org/patient-resources/faqs/womens-health/problems-of-th...
9 Gestational Diabetes and Pregnancy (n.d.). Retrieved September 14, 2020 from https://www.cdc.gov/pregnancy/diabetes-gestational.html
10 Pregnancy and Skin Changes (n.d.). Retrieved September 14, 2020 from https://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=pregnancy-and-skin...
11 A Review of Herbal and Pharmaceutical Galactagogues for Breast-feeding. Retrieved September 21, 2020 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5158159/