Fruits have always been considered to be natural superfoods as they are densely packed with nutrients and energy. Growing awareness about the immense health benefits of fruits has made lucuma popular among people looking for nutrition-packed raw foods and natural health supplements.
Lucuma, a super fruit that is native to the Andean valleys, has been gaining popularity for its unique nutritional benefits. Though lucuma has been widely grown and used in Peru, Ecuador, and Chile, this tropical fruit become available to other parts of the world only in the last few decades. Here’s what you need to know about this amazing import from the Andes.
The History Of Lucuma
Lucuma, which is the fruit of the Pouteria Lucuma tree, is a super fruit that has been eaten by Peruvians since 200 A.D. Europeans discovered Lucuma in the 1500s and called it ‘egg fruit’ due to its shape and the color and texture of its flesh which resembles a boiled egg yolk. Because the lucuma tree does not grow in easily in other parts of the world and the fruit starts to ferment soon after ripening, it’s difficult to find fresh lucumas.
This is why lucuma is mostly sold internationally as a milled, fine silky powder that is slightly lighter in color compared to the ripe fruit. If you’re wondering how the actual fruit tastes like, it is often described as having a taste combination reminiscent of maple syrup, caramel, and sweet potato, however, in its dried form, it smells and tastes like a blend of ripe apricots and dried goji berry.
Benefits Of Lucuma
1. Natural Sweetener
Even though it’s sweet, lucuma has a low glycemic index which makes it a great substitute for sugar. Eating foods that have a low score on the glycaemic index can keep blood sugar levels steady and can even help your body metabolize fat more efficiently. Lucuma powder can sweeten foods without spiking your blood sugar. Because of this quality, it is recommended to people suffering from type 2 diabetics and those wanting to reduce calorie intake.1
Fruits and vegetables usually get their orange/red color from the presence of beta-carotene. The rich yellowish red color of lucuma means that this fruit is packed with the antioxidant beta-carotene. Your body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A (retinol) which gives you healthy skin and mucous membranes, a stronger immune system, and good eye health and vision. Beta-carotene also reduces the risk of several types of cancers including prostate, colorectum, and lung cancer.2 Lucuma is also a good source of several nutrients like vitamin C, niacin (vitamin B3), zinc, calcium, and iron.
A 2010 research has reported the anti-inflammatory effect of Lucuma extract on wound healing and skin aging. The study found that lucuma significantly increased wound closure and promoted tissue regeneration. The report concluded that lucuma may have anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, and skin-repair effects on human skin.3 While these tests were conducted on animals, it goes to show that lucuma could find future application in curing skin conditions.
How To Include Lucuma In Your Diet
It may be hard to get your hands on fresh lucuma but powdered lucuma is easily available in online or in health food stores. Make sure you buy high quality, certified organic lucuma powder that has been dehydrated and powdered in a controlled environment. This helps preserve its natural nutrients.
Lucuma powder can be stirred into all of your favorite shakes, smoothies, and protein drinks. It can also be used as a partial or complete sugar substitute in puddings, cakes, desserts, and ice cream.
How Much Lucuma Powder To Use: When substituting lucuma powder for sugar, start by using 2 Tablespoons of lucuma powder for every 1 Tablespoon of sugar. If it is not sweet enough, add more to suit your taste.
While there are no known side effects associated with having lucuma, always consult your healthcare provider before you order lucuma powder, especially if you have diabetes or high blood sugar levels.
|↑1||Pinto, Marcia Da Silva, Lena Galvez Ranilla, Emmanouil Apostolidis, Franco Maria Lajolo, Maria Inés Genovese, and Kalidas Shetty. “Evaluation of antihyperglycemia and antihypertension potential of native Peruvian fruits using in vitro models.” Journal of medicinal food 12, no. 2 (2009): 278-291.|
|↑2||Albanes, Demetrius, Olli P. Heinonen, Jussi K. Huttunen, Philip R. Taylor, Jarmo Virtamo, B. K. Edwards, Jaason Haapakoski, Matti Rautalahti, A. M. Hartman, and Juni Palmgren. “Effects of alpha-tocopherol and beta-carotene supplements on cancer incidence in the Alpha-Tocopherol Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention Study.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 62, no. 6 (1995): 1427S-1430S.|
|↑3||Rojo, Leonel E., Caren M. Villano, Gili Joseph, Barbara Schmidt, Vladimir Shulaev, Joel L. Shuman, Mary Ann Lila, and Ilya Raskin. “Original Contribution: Wound‐healing properties of nut oil from Pouteria lucuma.” Journal of cosmetic dermatology 9, no. 3 (2010): 185-195.|