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Following is an excerpt from the “Inside the Olympic Training Centers Nutrition Lab” on the importance of iron, especially in athletes.
One of the biggest problems Gibson has worked to correct in athletes is iron deficiencies. Iron is essential for helping your blood transport oxygen to hardworking muscles. Female athletes are particularly susceptible to iron loss through menstruation. High-mileage runners may also suffer something called foot-strike hemolysis, where hemoglobin cells are destroyed by stride impact. And a growing body of research suggests that chronic inflammation may trigger a hormone that blocks iron absorption. “Optimizing iron is huge for us here,” says Gibson. “As many as 90 percent of my female athletes, and 50 percent of the males, have low readings when we first test them.” Iron supplements usually correct the problem, says Gibson.
But we Filipinos are very lucky as we are gifted with a readily accessible (and even free) iron source: MALUNGAY / Kalamungay / Kamungay or Moringa in English.
The malunggay plant is known to different parts of the world under various names including, but not limited to, horseradish tree, drumstick tree, and dool in some regions. It is one of the more popular and publicized plant that is acknowledged to have nutritional, as well as, medicinal value. It is rich in vitamins A, B & C, minerals such as iron and amino acids. Fortunately, the plant is easily accessible as it can be found not only as part of the wild life, but also in the backyards of many Filipino homes. Malunggay proves to be a low-maintenance plant to grow, and is able to propagate in almost all kinds of soil. Most of the parts of the malunggay had been proven to be useful, both for consumption and for its preparation as a medicinal plant. Its flowers, leaves and young pods are associated and perceived to be important because of the health benefits that it provides.
In terms of iron contents, different articles have different say on this, but the consistent information is that Malungay (moringa) has 3 times more iron than the famous spinach of Popeye.
If moringa leaves were to be eaten by one and all, the world will be free of anemia as it contains three times more iron than spinach.
You can also check this MORINGA BENEFITS article for a more detailed information about the different nutrients of malungay / moringa.