Malunggay, Miracle Vegetable of the Philippines

An article in the Manila Standard Today caught my attention.  Pangasinan Rep. Gina de Venecia is sponsoring a bill to declare the malunggay (see following photo) as the national vegetable of the Philippines. Now wait. Before you doze off, I’ll tell you how this story could potentially improve your health and add years to your life. 

The proposed legislation seeks to declare the malunggay as the national vegetable to promote its nutritive and medicinal properties and agribusiness potential.

Rep. de Venecia said the bill also seeks to declare November as “National Malunggay Month” to focus the people’s attention on what many describe as a “miracle vegetable” and “nature’s medicine cabinet.”

“From the roots and branches to the leaves, flowers, fruit and seeds, all parts of the malunggay tree has nutritive and medicinal value,” de Venecia told reporters.

The small, oval, dark-green leaves are mainly used as vegetable ingredients in soup, fish and chicken dishes.

I’ve been enjoying this vegetable the past few months at our home in Iloilo. Our neighbor, Jesus, planted the malunggay tree shown in the picture above.  My asawa fixed a batch of it the other day and mixed it in with some other vegetables like squash. It goes good with mongo beans. I threw it in with some scrambled eggs the other evening as a side dish for my dinner. It’s not bad.

Some folks think it tastes like lightly cooked asparagus, mushrooms, or a salad. My own asawa agrees that it tastes like asparagus if you eat a large portion. Strip the leaves from the stem before preparing this vegetable with your dish.

The article reports that for the past 20 years, the World Health Organization has been promoting malunggay as a low-cost health enhancer in the poor countries around the world. Biochemists and molecular anthropologists have found malunggay to be rich in vitamin C, A and iron and has high-density good cholesterol.

De Venecia, who is a member of the House Committee on Health, said malunggay had been found to be a good cure for such illnesses as diabetes, hypertension, inflammations, infections and cancer and a good agent for slowing down the aging process.

She said malunggay leaves, which lactating mothers use to produce more milk for their babies, were a powerhouse of nutritional value: seven times more vitamin C than oranges, four times more calcium than milk, four times more vitamin A than carrots, and twice the protein in milk and three times the potassium in bananas.

Malunggay contained more than 90 nutrients and 46 types of antioxidants, 18 amino acids, plenty of omega 3 oils, 45 compounds with antioxidant properties, and 36 anti-inflammatory properties, De Venecia said.

De Venecia said malunggay deserved national and international promotion because of its various bio-medical endowments and the many socio-economic benefit it offered to our people.

“Now we can say that malunggay can save lives, increase incomes, generate millions of jobs, utilize vast tracts of idle agricultural lands, and help attain socio-economic equity,” De Venecia said.

(Photo Source: goldenspoon.com.ph)

Don’t want to bother preparing malunggay in a meal? It also comes in capsule form. Malunggay tea and coffee is also available.