Malunggay or “Moringa”: Benefits, Uses, and How to Cook With It

We may earn a commission on qualified purchases made through one of our links. Learn more

Malunggay is a leafy green that’s popular in the Philippines, but it’s also grown in other countries. It’s known as mallow in the US.

Malunggay is a tropical plant in the mallow family. It’s also known as “maloong” in the Philippines and “drumstick tree” in India. It’s a member of the abelmoschus genus and the malvaceae family. It’s native to India and grown throughout the tropics.

Let’s look at the definition of malunggay, how it’s used, and why it’s so popular.

What is Malunggay

Check out our new cookbook

Bitemybun's family recipes with complete meal planner and recipe guide.

Try it out for free with Kindle Unlimited:

Read for free

Discovering the Wonders of Malunggay

Malunggay, also known as drumstick tree, horseradish tree, or benzolive tree, is a tree in the family Moringaceae. It is native to India but is now widely cultivated in tropical and subtropical regions around the world. The tree is known for its leafy greens, flowers, roots, and oil, which have been used for centuries in traditional medicine and cooking.

The Functional and Beneficial Ingredient

Moringa is a highly functional and beneficial ingredient that has been used for various purposes, including:

  • Herbal medicine: Malunggay leaves, roots, and flowers have been used to treat various ailments, including fungal infections, bacterial infections, and cholera.
  • Nutritional supplement: Moringa leaves are rich in calcium, potassium, and other essential nutrients, making them a popular dietary supplement.
  • Culinary ingredient: Malunggay leaves and pods are used in many traditional dishes, such as soups, stews, and curries.

The Leafy Green with Fungicidal and Antibiotic Properties

Malunggay leaves are particularly noteworthy for their fungicidal and antibiotic properties, which make them a popular natural remedy for various skin and digestive issues. Some of the benefits of malunggay leaves include:

  • Boosting the immune system
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Lowering blood sugar levels
  • Improving digestion
  • Promoting healthy skin and hair

How to Eat Malunggay

Malunggay can be eaten in various forms, including:

  • Raw: Malunggay leaves can be eaten raw in salads or as a garnish.
  • Cooked: Malunggay leaves and pods can be cooked in soups, stews, and curries.
  • Powdered: Malunggay leaves can be dried and ground into a powder, which can be added to smoothies, juices, and other drinks.

What’s the Flavor of Malunggay?

If you’ve never tasted malunggay before, you’re in for a treat. This leafy green is unlike anything else you’ve ever tried. Here’s what you need to know about the taste of malunggay:

  • Malunggay has a sweet, nutty flavor that is distinctly different from other leafy greens like spinach or kale.
  • Some people describe the taste as being similar to green beans or peas.
  • Compared to other greens, malunggay is a little stronger in flavor, but not overpowering.
  • When cooked, malunggay produces a pleasant aroma that will make your mouth water.

Moringa in Different Forms

Malunggay is available in a variety of forms, including fresh, dried, and in supplement form. Here’s what you need to know about each:

  • Fresh malunggay is undoubtedly the best version to buy if you want to experience the full flavor and benefits of this superfood.
  • Dried malunggay is a good option if you want to have malunggay on hand for a longer period of time. However, be careful when buying dried malunggay as some brands may include other ingredients that are not pure malunggay.
  • Malunggay supplements are also available, but it’s always better to get your nutrients from whole foods whenever possible.

Positive News About Malunggay

Malunggay is highly regarded in the world of plants, and for good reason. Here are some of the benefits of malunggay that you may not have heard of:

  • Malunggay contains antioxidants that can protect your body from damage caused by free radicals.
  • Malunggay is rich in vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, and potassium.
  • Malunggay is an excellent source of protein, making it a great addition to any diet.
  • Malunggay has been found to be helpful for people with sensitive stomachs, as it can soothe digestive issues.

Drying Moringa Leaves

If you have access to fresh malunggay leaves, you may want to consider drying them for later use. Here’s how to do it:

  • Start by washing the leaves and patting them dry.
  • Spread the leaves out on a clean surface and let them air dry for a few hours.
  • Once the leaves are dry, you can store them in an airtight container for up to six months.

Unlocking the Many Uses of Malunggay

  • Malunggay contains high levels of protein, vitamins, and antioxidants that help improve overall bodily function.
  • It appears that the compounds found in malunggay can help maintain healthy glucose levels, making it helpful for those with diabetes.
  • Malunggay extracts have been shown to reduce blood sugar levels and inhibit cancer cell growth.

For Skin and Eye Health

  • Malunggay oil is believed to have properties that can help treat skin infections caused by bacteria and fungi.
  • The vitamin A content in malunggay helps protect the retinal cells in the eyes and can prevent retinal damage.
  • Malunggay extracts have been shown to reduce inflammation and improve skin hydration, making it a powerful ingredient in beauty products.

For Bone Health and Injuries

  • Malunggay is rich in calcium and phosphorus, which are essential for healthy bones.
  • The antioxidants found in malunggay can help stop the damage caused by free radicals, which can cause bone and ligament damage.
  • Malunggay poultices have been used to treat bone and joint inflammations, sprains, and strains.

For Hair Nourishment and Growth

  • Malunggay seed oil is beneficial for hair as it contains vitamins and minerals that keep hair healthy and free from damage caused by free radicals.
  • The antioxidants found in malunggay help keep hair cells hydrated and detoxified, which can boost hair growth.

For Treating Anemia and Sickle Cell Conditions

  • Malunggay is believed to be helpful in treating anemia and sickle cell conditions due to its high iron content.
  • The compounds found in malunggay can help increase red blood cell production and improve overall blood circulation.

With such a wide range of uses, it’s no wonder that malunggay is becoming more and more popular. From treating specific conditions to making powerful beauty products, malunggay is a nourishing and beneficial ingredient that can help improve overall health and wellness.

Get Cooking with Moringa: Delicious Recipes to Try at Home

  • Malunggay is a popular vegetable in Filipino cuisine, and for good reason. It contains high levels of calcium, iron, and vitamins A and C, making it a healthy addition to any meal.
  • Cooking with malunggay is easy and versatile, as it can be added to a variety of dishes to boost their nutritional value.
  • Whether you’re a fan of traditional Filipino food or looking to try something new, malunggay is a great ingredient to include in your recipes.

Simple Malunggay Recipes to Try

  • Ginataang Malunggay with Clams: This traditional Filipino soup is the perfect way to showcase the flavor and health benefits of malunggay. Here’s how to make it:

– Recipe Prep Time: 10 mins
– Cook Time: 20 mins
– Total Time: 30 mins
– Course: Soup
– Cuisine: Filipino
– Servings: 4 servings
– Ingredients:
– 1/2 kilo cleaned clams
– 1 thumb-sized ginger, sliced into segments
– 1 onion, sliced
– 3 cloves garlic, minced
– 1 cup water
– 1 cup coconut milk
– 2 cups malunggay leaves
– Salt and pepper to season
– Instructions:
1. In an earthen pot, bring the water to a boil and add the ginger, onion, and garlic. Let simmer for a few minutes until fragrant.
2. Add the clams and let cook for 5 minutes or until they start to open up.
3. Pour in the coconut milk and bring to a simmer.
4. Add the malunggay leaves and let cook for 2-3 minutes or until wilted.
5. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
6. Serve hot and enjoy!

  • Malunggay Pesto: If you love pesto, adding malunggay to the mix is a great way to boost its nutritional value. Here’s how to make it:

– Recipe Prep Time: 10 mins
– Cook Time: 0 mins
– Total Time: 10 mins
– Course: Sauce
– Cuisine: Italian
– Servings: 4 servings
– Ingredients:
– 2 cups malunggay leaves
– 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
– 1/2 cup olive oil
– 1/4 cup pine nuts
– 3 cloves garlic
– Salt and pepper to taste
– Instructions:
1. In a food processor, combine the malunggay leaves, parmesan cheese, pine nuts, and garlic. Pulse until finely chopped.
2. While the food processor is running, slowly pour in the olive oil until the pesto is thick and well combined.
3. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Serve over pasta or as a dip for veggies.

Why Malunggay is the Ultimate Superfood

When it comes to nutrition, malunggay and spinach are both green giants that pack a powerful punch. However, malunggay takes the lead with its diverse array of health benefits. Here’s why:

  • Malunggay contains more Vitamin C than spinach, making it a great immune booster.
  • Malunggay is also rich in Niacin, which helps improve brain function and lowers cholesterol levels.
  • Malunggay has a reputation for lifting the body’s energy levels, making it a great addition to any diet.
  • Malunggay is a great source of oleiferanutritionsciencevitamin, which helps improve skin health and prevent cell damage.
  • Malunggay is a great alternative for those who care about their health but don’t enjoy the taste of kale, which is often touted as the ultimate superfood.

The Added Benefits of Malunggay Powder

Aside from its reputation as a superfood, malunggay is also available in powder form, making it even easier to enjoy its benefits. Here are some added benefits of malunggay powder:

  • Malunggay powder can be added to a diverse array of recipes, making it a favorite among health enthusiasts.
  • Malunggay powder is a great source of nutrients and vitamins, making it a popular choice for those trying to improve their health.
  • Malunggay powder is often added to smoothies and other drinks, making it a convenient way to enjoy its benefits.

The National Chow-Down: Malunggay vs Spinach

When it comes to taste, malunggay and spinach are both winners. However, malunggay has a slight edge in terms of versatility. Here’s why:

  • Malunggay has a slightly milder taste than spinach, making it a great addition to a diverse array of dishes.
  • Malunggay is a favorite of many Filipino households, with moms swearing by its health benefits and adding it to everything from soups to stews.
  • Malunggay’s popularity has even reached pop culture, with Shirley Temple singing “gotta eat your malunggay” in a classic 1930s film.

The Decisive Judges: Malunggay vs Spinach

When it comes down to it, malunggay is the ultimate superfood. Here’s why:

  • Malunggay contains more nutrients and vitamins than spinach, making it a better choice for those looking to improve their health.
  • Malunggay’s diverse array of health benefits make it a great addition to any diet.
  • Malunggay’s popularity is only growing, with urban dictionary even defining it as “the ultimate superfood.”

So, next time you’re trying to decide between malunggay and spinach, go for the green giant that packs the ultimate punch- malunggay.

Malunggay vs Barley: Which is the better superfood?

Malunggay and barley are two widely known superfoods that have been used for centuries in different parts of the world. Malunggay, also known as moringa, is a lush green leaf that is commonly found in the Philippines and other parts of Asia. Barley, on the other hand, is a type of grain that is commonly grown in Western countries.

How do Malunggay and Barley compare?

When it comes to choosing between malunggay and barley, there are a few key differences to consider:
Malunggay contains complete protein, while barley does not. This means that malunggay is a better choice for people who are looking to build and repair muscle.
Barley contains more fiber than malunggay, making it a better choice for people who are looking to improve their digestion or control their cholesterol levels.
Malunggay contains isothiocyanates, which have powerful anti-inflammatory effects, while barley does not. Barley, on the other hand, contains compounds called lignans, which have been associated with a reduced risk of certain types of cancer.


Malunggay or moringa is a plant from the moringa family that’s native to India but now grown all over the world. It’s known for its leaves, which are used in cooking, and its seeds, which are used as a nutritional supplement. 

It’s a great addition to a healthy diet because it’s rich in vitamins and minerals, especially antioxidants, and it’s a fungicidal antibiotic. So don’t be afraid to try malunggay, especially the leaves, which taste sweet and nutty and are a great addition to a variety of dishes.

Check out our new cookbook

Bitemybun's family recipes with complete meal planner and recipe guide.

Try it out for free with Kindle Unlimited:

Read for free

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.