Imagine a fruit that looks suspiciously like a ripe avocado and has similar health benefits, but it leaves a taste like maple syrup in your mouth. This fruit exists, and it may be the most powerful superfood you’ve never heard of. Lucuma is a delicious fruit native to South America that has been attracting attention in the United States for years – and it’s only becoming more and more popular. Although it can be difficult to find fresh fruit in American supermarkets, lucuma powder has similar benefits. But what is lucuma powder and how can it improve your health? Read on to find out what nutrition experts say about the benefits of lucuma powder.
What is Lucuma?
Lucuma (pronounced loo-koo-ma) is a fleshy fruit of the Pouteria lucuma tree, native to the mountainous regions of the Andes in South America. It has a unique sweet flavor that is often compared to maple, caramel, sweet potato, and butterscotch. Its powerful health benefits earned it the nickname “Gold of the Incas” in ancient Peru. (Click to learn more about another South American superfood, açai.) And it’s still an important flavor in Peru, notes Manuel Villacorta MS, RD, founder and owner of MV Nutrition and author of Peruvian energy foods. “We usually use lucuma for desserts because of its maple flavor,” he says, noting that lucuma ice cream is often considered the national dessert of Peru.
But this delicate fruit ripens quickly, making it difficult to import into the United States, Villacorta says. This is why you will rarely find bright yellow fruits in your average supermarket. The next best option? Lucuma powder, which is often frozen at peak freshness to preserve nutrients, then made into powder. Plus, it can be used as a sugar replacement with about half the carbs and 75% less sugar. One to try: Terrasoul Superfoods Organic Lucuma Powder (Buy on Amazon, $14.99).
Why lucuma powder benefits diabetics
“Lucuma powder is a good alternative to natural sugar,” says Villacorta. For what? Lucuma powder has a much lower glycemic impact than sugar. This means the sweetener is much less likely to raise blood sugar, thanks to more complex carbs like fiber and fewer simple carbs like sugar in the powder. Furthermore, research in the Journal of Food Medicine revealed that the fruit can reduce the levels of carbohydrate-digesting enzymes to further prevent sugar fluctuations. (Click for a list of other low-glycemic fruits.)
But it’s not just a benefit for diabetics. Better blood sugar control can help any woman feel more energetic and reduce her appetite, whether or not you have this condition. In fact, studies show that fatigue can decrease by up to 90% and weight loss can accelerate by 42% when blood sugar levels are balanced.
Related: “Glucose Goddess”: 4 Genius Tips That Dramatically Improve Blood Sugar Levels
Lucuma powder is also rich in healthy intestinal fiber which helps the body process carbohydrates better. “Fiber is very beneficial for glucose metabolism,” confirms Villacorta. In fact, studies show that increasing fiber consumption can significantly reduce your risk of developing diabetes. One tablespoon of lucuma contains about 2 grams of fiber. While that may not seem like much, it’s a lot more nutrients than you’ll find in sugar and other alternative sweeteners. Plus, Villacorta adds that you may need more than just a tablespoon. “I used about half a cup to get the right sweet taste,” he says. Not only will you get a more delicious flavor, but you’ll also get an extra boost of healthy nutrients from lucuma powder!
Related: Top Doctor: *This* sweetener reduces blood sugar to facilitate weight loss
Other Benefits of Lucuma Powder
Lucuma is packed with nutrients, antioxidants, and minerals that can be a major boon to your overall health. Keep reading to find out what else this superfood can do for your health.
1. Lucuma powder prevents weight gain during menopause
When estrogen decreases during menopause, we tend to accumulate more abdominal fat. The hormone helps regulate metabolism and reduce inflammation. So when our estrogen levels drop, we’re more likely to accumulate fat, especially in our midsection. “The microbiome is also affected when women go through menopause,” adds Villacorta. Research in the International Journal of Women’s Health confirms that when we reach menopause, we have less diversity of healthy bugs in our guts. But Villacorta says the prebiotic fiber in lucuma can alleviate this, helping to increase microbiome diversity and alleviate inflammation in fat stores. (Click to learn how green smoothies can help melt menopausal belly fat.)
2. Lucuma Powder Protects Heart Health
The antioxidants in lucuma that keep inflammation in check are essential for preventing chronic illnesses like heart disease, notes Villacorta. One of these key antioxidants: beta-carotene, the pigment that gives the flesh of the fruit its bright orange color and which is also found in carrots and sweet potatoes. Research from Harvard University suggests that increasing beta-carotene levels can significantly reduce the risk of stroke, while a study in the American Journal of Public Health claims the nutrient may protect against heart disease. (Click to learn more about the health benefits of sweet potatoes.)
The heart health benefits don’t stop there. Research published in the Journal of Medicinal Foods found that the fruit acts similarly to antihypertensive medications like ACE inhibitors. They found that lucuma can cause notable reductions in blood pressure by reducing the activity of an enzyme called alpha-glucosidase (ACE). At high concentrations, this enzyme narrows blood vessels to increase blood pressure.
3. Lucuma powder protects vision
Your eyes can benefit from lucuma powder because it contains anthophylls, a group of plant nutrients that includes vision-protecting nutrients. lutein And zeaxanthin. According to scientists at the University of Wisconsin, a daily dose of these vitamins can reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) by 46%. (Click for other nutrients that may prevent macular degeneration.)
4. Lucuma Powder Promotes Younger Skin
When it comes to making your skin look younger and healthier, lucuma powder is a good choice. The credit goes to antioxidants like vitamin C, calcium, potassium and other phytonutrients present in the fruit, which are essential for skin health. In fact, research from Rutgers University found that lucuma stimulates skin regeneration and has anti-aging properties.
Additionally, the beta-carotene in lucuma contributes to skin health, says Villacorta. Increasing your levels of healthy nutrients can protect your skin from UV damage, according to researchers at the University of Arizona. Beta-carotene also has antioxidant properties that reduce free radicals, harmful compounds that can accelerate skin aging.
5. Lucuma Powder Supports the Immune System
Our immune system relies on a variety of nutrients to fuel virus-fighting white blood cells and protect us from colds and flu. Fortunately, “lucuma’s high content of phytonutrients and bioactive compounds supports the immune system,” says Villacorta. For example, its immune-boosting vitamin C can reduce the severity and duration of colds, and its calcium and potassium act as electrolytes that reduce inflammation that can worsen illness and encourage lymphocyte activity. T which fight viruses. (However, click to learn about another immunity booster, star anise.)
6. Lucuma powder keeps memory sharp
Nutrients like beta-carotene and B vitamins are essential for avoiding memory problems. Luckily, you can get a dose of lucuma to help nourish the brain. In fact, researchers Cochrane Review say that keeping levels of these vitamins within a healthy range can prevent memory loss for years to come.
Related: The 7 Best Ways to Reverse Brain Aging and Strengthen Memory, According to Scientists
The Best Ways to Get the Benefits of Lucuma Powder
Lucuma is a versatile sweetener that can replace sugar in any recipe and add a touch of maple flavor, although it is less sweet than sugar. Villacorta likes to use it to make ice cream, smoothies and even cheesecakes! “While it can be used to sweeten foods, lucuma powder is not as sweet as sugar and should be doubled in recipes if replacing sugar,” says nutritionist Vanessa King, RDN. “Or you can use lucuma in combination with sugar to add more flavor to foods with less sugar.” (Click for 3 delicious lucuma smoothie recipes.) Sprinkling the powder over yogurt or oatmeal or mixing it into coffee drinks are other popular uses. But however you enjoy this superfood, don’t overlook the powerful benefits of lucuma powder!
This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your doctor before pursuing any treatment plan.
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