Peru has been on to something for a long time when it comes to diet. It involves one of their native fruits….
LUCUMA. What a nutritional powerhouse!
Much of the world is not yet privy to the benefits of Lucuma but once they learn about it- they pay close attention.
Lucuma is INCREDIBLE for you. And there are so many opportunities to use it in your food.
What is Lucuma?
Scientifically classified as Pouteria lucuma, Lucuma is from a tree native to South America.
How to identify Lucuma:
-It has a sweeter taste that is a mix of caramel and fruit. Some often say they taste notes of sweet potato and maple syrup.
-It has an outer shell that is green.
-It has a yellow, soft flesh on the inside. The texture is definitely drier.
Most often, we will find Lucuma in powdered form. It will be dried, milled down, and then packaged as a supplement powder. It has insanely powerful nutritional benefits and is one of the healthiest sweeteners on the planet.
Fun fact about Lucuma before we get into the health benefits:
Lucuma was nicknamed the "gold of the incas." For centuries, it's been used in South America as a tried and true remedy for health.
More and more, we'll see Lucuma pop up as an ingredient used in juices as smoothies, as well as used in baking.
Benefits of Lucuma
Arguably the biggest benefit of Lucuma is the high antioxidant and polyphenol content.
Antioxidants scavenge for free-radicals in our body- which present themselves when there is too much oxidative stress. It's very important that we are consistently incorporating antioxidants into our bodies because this can help ward off diseases and cancer in the long run.
Peruvian fruits, in general, have been shown to have amazing antioxidant content. Many of them being great for the heart.
What's specifically great for the heart (and high blood pressure) is the antioxidant polyphenols. Polyphenols are beneficial plant compounds.
It's best to get our polyphenols through our food, which is one reason why Lucuma is awesome as an addition to the diet- it's such an easy way to get a quick dose. (Other examples of places to get polyphenols are cocoa powder, flaxseed meal, berries, and certain legumes.)
Even just a tiny serving of Lucuma packs a big dose of antioxidants and polyphenols. Lucuma even has flavonoid polyphenols-- which work extra hard for our bodies when we get them through foods. Flavonoids are extracted from plants.
Lucuma has incredible fiber content.
Getting in our daily fiber is important for the functioning of our digestive system and helping to promote gut health. Fiber also helps us feel fuller longer and keeps our blood sugar levels in check by slowing the rate of which sugar is absorbed into the blood.
The great thing about Lucuma is that it is packed with both insoluble and soluble fiber. (One serving packs 2 grams of fiber!)
Insoluble fiber is linked to your digestive system. It helps bulk up stools so that it passes more smoothly through your system.
Soluble fiber feeds the good bacteria in your gut. This, in turn, produces beneficial short-chain fatty acids.
Given Lucuma's unique nutritional profile, using it consistently in your diet --instead of your typical table sugar-- will help promote gut and digestion health.
Lucuma helps control your blood sugar levels.
In a time when we're realizing we need to be more and more aware of our insulin levels... keeping our blood pressure in check is important. (Blood pressure and insulin levels go hand in hand.)
Even though Lucuma is high in carbs, we must remember it is a complex carb. Which, unlike a simple carb, will not raise our blood sugar. Instead, it will slowly break down in the body.
Because Lucuma is rich in soluble and insoluble fiber (a carb) it goes as no surprise to learn that this may in fact help prevent diabetes as well as obesity down the road-- especially when Lucuma is used for the sweetener of choice (as opposed to table sugar.)
There have even been studies showing that Lucuma can help insulin sensitivity overall.
It should also be noted that Lucuma powder has a low glycemic index (GI), which makes sense since it does not spike our blood sugar. (High glycemic index foods spike blood sugar.) This is highly attracted to many, especially those on a low glycemic diet.
Lucuma has a high amount of Carotenoids.
Carotenoids are a class of fat-soluble pigments. They are typically in the yellow-green-red range. These carotenoids are phytonutrients and provide another layer of antioxidants.
Carotenoids are great for the immune system, eye health, and helping to ward off disease. (See the full scientific breakdown here.)
Just another unexpected benefit of Lucuma!
Lucuma Caramel Candy Recipe
This recipe is a take on caramel candies-- in a much healthier way! Beyond the health-giving benefits of Lucuma, this little candy holds other positives as well when it comes to health and nutrition!
It is loaded with antioxidants, fiber, polyphenols, and even some magnesium! This candy is a complex carb so it will absorb slowly into the bloodstream and would not spike your blood sugar like a traditional caramel candy would.
This recipe was first inspired by FromMyBowl- although here it has been greatly changed and adapted.
Courtesy of Katey Yurko @thevioletfog
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