‘Debunking a myth’: RCT shows Moringa leaves may lower blood pressure

By Stephen Daniells contact

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images / Luis Echeverri Urrea
© Getty Images / Luis Echeverri Urrea

Related tags: moringa, Blood pressure

Contrary to a public perception in some parts of the world that Moringa oleifera may increase blood pressure, data from a new placebo-controlled clinical study indicate that the leaves may actually reduce blood pressure.

Data published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition​ indicated that cooked M. oleifera​ leaves may significantly decrease both systolic blood pressure (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) after a meal, even when the subjects consumed a high-salt diet.

“This study provides sufficient data to debunk the existing myth regarding consumption of M. oleifera leaves and high blood pressure,” ​wrote scientists from the University of Mauritius. “Given the highly nutritious and health values of this plant, our study confirms the need to reposition this vegetable on our plates.”

Traditional uses

The leaves of the Moringa Oleifera plant, which grows in Africa, India, southern and central America and Hawaii, produce a rich green – but tart tasting - dry powder that is remarkably high in protein (27% by weight, with all eight essential amino acids), vitamin A, calcium (2g per 100g of dry leaf powder) and vitamin C (17.3mg per 100g).

But they are also high in iron (28mg per 100g), potassium (1.3g per 100g) and B vitamins, Vitamin D, Vitamin E and Vitamin K.

The leaves of M. oleifera​ - also known as the miracle tree and the drumstick tree – have been used in traditional medicine in India and Africa to aid digestion, boost energy levels and mental clarity, improve mood and support healthy blood sugar levels for hundreds of years.

According to the new paper, despite data from animal studies showing an antihypertensive effect, “Mauritians have neglected M. oleifera as a food since its consumption was perceived to increase blood pressure”​.

Brazilian ban

Concerns around the safety of Moringa oleifera in food and supplements led to a ban by Brazils' ANVISA last year. The regulatory agency stated: “The measure was motivated by the fact that there was no evaluation and safety proof of ​Moringa oleifera use in food."

Study details

The new study is one of the first to support the blood pressure-lowering potential of M. oleifera​ leaves in humans.

Forty-one healthy participants were enrolled in this prospective, placebo-controlled clinical study. Participants consumed either 120 g of cooked M. oleifera​ leaves or no Moringa leaves and their blood pressure was monitored for 24 hours.

“This is the first study in humans demonstrating the potential lowering effect on both SBP and DBP of a food product despite high consumption of salt (7 g/d). A significant decrease in both SBP and DBP was observed in the participants having high salt intake (7 g/d), thus indicating a positive relationship between consumption of M. oleifera leaves and BP,”​ wrote the researchers.

“These preliminary findings provide the basis for further investigation by means of large cohort clinical trials based on a clustered sampling strategy as well as investigating the long-term consumption of M. oleifera on any stabilizing effect of blood pressure in hypertensive subjects.”

Source: Journal of the American College of Nutrition
Volume 39, Issue 1, Pages 54-62, doi: 10.1080/07315724.2019.1608602
“Consumption of ​Moringa oleifera Lam Leaves Lowers Postprandial Blood Pressure”
Authors: M. Chan Sun, et al.

Related topics: Research

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