Do you like the sound of a superfood that is naturally sweet and incredibly good for you?
Human taste buds are naturally primed to love sugar! From an evolutionary perspective, sweet flavors are nature’s way of signalling low toxicity and a good source of energy in plants. So when we were living in the wild, sweetness was somewhat of a compass for finding safe food.
While our love of all things sweet may have helped our ancestors to survive in harsh conditions, our modern intake of sugary foods creates a lot of issues for our health.
Discover a superfood that is naturally sweet and nourishes your body… we’re talking about none other than lucuma, and the benefits it can offer to your health and culinary pleasures!
What Is Lucuma?
Pronounced “loo-koo-mah”, this exotic fruit is cultivated in Peru and has been eaten in South America since 200 AD.
The taste of lucuma has been described in various forms of lick-your-lips deliciousness! Some people report that it’s a beautiful blend of nashi pear, sweet potato and mango. The inner flesh is the same golden hue of a hard-boiled egg yolk.
Once upon a time, lucuma was used by ancient South American people for natural healing, and was believed to have antifungal, antibiotic and antimicrobial qualities. Ancient transcripts also indicate that lucuma was believed to enhance digestion.
Why Is It Good For Me?
Lucuma is affectionately referred to as the ‘Gold of the Incas’ by local Peruvians, and has been revered as a staple food and sacred offering for many centuries.
Here are 5 reasons why you’ll love lucuma, too!
1. It Has A Naturally Low GI
You can avoid blood sugar highs and lows by choosing foods with a naturally low Glycemic Index (GI), such as lucuma! This means that the carbohydrate is broken down into glucose and released more slowly, so that your body stays fueled for longer.
Lucuma offers a lovely light sweetness without creating a massive influx of sugar into your bloodstream, the way that sugar does. This way, you can enjoy its sweet flavor and keep your energy and blood sugar levels nice and stable.
2. Lucuma Offers A Major Nutrient Hit
This fruit contains an elixir of 14 trace minerals, as well as many other essential vitamins! In particular, lucuma is a good source of zinc, calcium, vitamin C, niacin (vitamin B3) and iron. As suggested by its brilliant yellow color, lucuma is particularly high in beta-carotene, which our body requires for making Vitamin A and regulating the immune system.
3. A Good Source Of Fiber
Like most fruit, lucuma is a good source of fiber. Even once it is dried and ground into a superfine powder, we can reap lucuma’s roughage benefits! Per 100g serving, lucuma powder will provide roughly 2.3g of dietary fiber, thereby helping to support good digestion and bowel health.
4. It Has An Array Of Antioxidants
Lucuma is rich in many antioxidants which help to slow aging, fight free radicals, and reduce cancer risk. Further research suggests that lucuma may even improve cardiovascular health.
5. All-Around Health Benefits
Researchers have linked lucuma to other far-reaching health benefits. Interestingly, lucuma (and more specifically, lucuma oil) have been linked to skin health, with some evidence to suggest that it may stimulate healing factors within the skin to hasten wound healing.
The Best Way To Eat Lucuma
Grown at an impressive altitude of 4,500 to 10,000 feet, lucuma is not generally available in its fresh form in the Western world.
Alternatively, it is delicately dehydrated and powdered before being transported for us to enjoy its rich nutritional benefits. By purchasing high quality, certified organic brands, you can ensure that the fruit has been dried at a suitable temperature to preserve its precious nutrients.
Some people recommend that you can substitute lucuma for sugar in your baking, by using a 2:1 (lucuma to sugar) ratio. Personally, I’ve found that this doesn’t work for all recipes and will alter the taste a little. However, I have had quite good success using this in buckwheat/coconut flour pancakes and some raw slices. I encourage you to experiment and discover your own personal ‘lucuma palate’.
Here are some other ideas to love up lucuma in the kitchen!
- Dissolve it into fresh juices… Lucuma will take the bitter edge off veggie-based concoctions, and impart a slightly smooth and creamy texture.
- Whip up your own lucuma ice cream! Be Good Organics suggest combining ½ cup lucuma powder, 1 cup soaked cashews, vanilla essence, ¼ cup coconut nectar, a pinch of sea salt and 1 cup water. Simply blend, freeze, then enjoy!
- Sprinkle over muesli, porridge or cereal for lovely caramel-and-maple infusions!
- Substitute for sugar (completely or partially) in tarts, raw slices, muesli bars, cake and pretty much anything sweet!
- Stir through peanut butter for a sweeter twist on this classic spread.