Malunggay: The miracle vegetable

By Nenita C. Planco, Agriculture magazine (10.2009)

Malunggay reportedly prevents 300 diseases, hence it is dubbed as "the miracle vegetable" and the "wonder tree."

Low in fats and carbohydrates, malunggay leaves are used to prevent anemia as these are rich in iron and vitamin B, and osteoporosis as these contain high amount of calcium.

The leaves also contain fiber, which is good against constipation, formation of gallstones and colon cancer. These have potassium, too that aids in managing blood pressure and is good for the nervous system.

Moreover, the leaves are rich in protein, which is good for bodybuilding and repair of tissues, plus vitamin A, which is good for the eyes, skin and heart.

Malunggay leaves also help strengthen the immune system due to its high vitamin C content. This helps the body fight scurvy and infectious diseases such as coughs, colds and flu.

According to studies, 3 tablespoons of powdered malunggay leaves contain 27 percent vitamin A and 22 percent vitamin C, which is equivalent to 7 oranges. It has 42 percent protein, 71 percent iron and 125 percent calcium equivalent to 4 glasses of milk. Its potassium content, meanwhile, is tantamount to 3 bananas. Malunggay leaves are slso three times more nutritious than spinach, and have four times more beta-carotene.

No doubt that malunggay is one of the world's highly nutritious vegetables. In fact, since the time immemorial up to this day, the leaves are used to treat fresh cuts and wounds.

Malunggay leaves were regarded as the poor man's vegetable, and this was especially true in the Visayas where malunggay trees were common in sight, hence leaves can be had by just asking.

The leaves are so easy to prepare. Since these are free from bacteria which are commonly found in vegetables growing close to the ground, leaves are dropped into a pot of boiling water even without washing.

Malunggay tree is also regarded as the lazy man's plant for it doesn't have to be cultivated and fertilized regularly. It thrives well in sandy loam soil provided it is exposed to sunlight. It bears leaves and flowers whole year round.

However, when its branches are already tall, these have to be pruned for new leaves to sprout. But if pods are needed, then the branches are left to bear fruits and pods. Pruning can be done after the pods are harvested.

It is best to plant malunggay tree during the rainy season. One can either sow its seeds or plant branches. But many prefer to plant the branch as it grows fast. It just takes three to four months.

Here are some tips in planting branch:

  1. Cut a mature, healthy branch to about 3 feet to 4 feet long.
  2. Dig a hole in the ground to a depth of about 1/2 foot then plant the branch into the hole and cover it with soil.
  3. Maintain a planting distance of 3 feet to 4 feet.