What Is Lucuma?: Healthy Benefits And Recipes For The South American Superfruit

21/04/2015 18:00 BST | Updated 07/01/2016 11:59 GMT

Lucuma yellow-fleshed South American fruit packs a powerful health punch with its glorious abundance of antioxidants, fiber, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.

Having finally made its way to our shores, lucuma is often consumed in powder form and can be added to tasty (and often sweet-flavoured) dishes and smoothies alike.

It's also claimed the top spot as the most popular flavour of ice-cream in Peru, says Tipper Lewis, head herbalist at Neal's Yard.

Superfood dessert? Oh go on then. Here's what you need to know about lucuma.

What Is It?

Lucuma is an orange-yellow fleshed fruit which hails from South America. It's commonly known as the “Gold of the Incas” as they were apparently huge fans of the stuff.

"It was used extensively in the Inca Empire and held as a symbol of fertility and creation," adds Lewis.

Because of the dry nature of its flesh, lucuma is usually consumed in fruit juice, milkshake and ice cream. Additionally, it can be bought in powder format.

The powder can be added to food or beverages to provide a sweet kick - it apparently tastes like a cross between sweet potato and maple.

Oh, and did we mention it's gluten-free?

Health Benefits

As well as being crammed full of antioxidants, vitamin B, minerals, fiber and carbohydrates, lucuma has a super low Glycemic index meaning it's a great (and oh-so-healthy) sweetener.

It can help stabilise blood sugar, while also curbing cravings and appetite - making it great for sprinkling on your porridge in the morning.

A study by Rutgers University also found that lucuma extract had an anti-inflammatory effect on wound healing and skin ageing. They must've strongly believed in its powers, as they sought to patent the fruit.

Other wondrous health benefits of the fruit include its immune-boosting properties, as well as its natural antibiotic and antimicrobial properties.

One thing to bare in mind, however, is that there is little known information about the safety of long-term consumption of lucuma powder.

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How To Use It

"Lucuma powder is derived from pitted and low-temperature dehydrated whole fruits, making it suitable for raw diets and vegans," says Lewis.

Because of its sweet taste, you can serve it up in pretty much any dessert recipe such as cakes, biscuits and pies.

The texture of lucuma powder is similar to that of granulated sugar. However the taste is more like brown sugar. (And according to OrganicLucuma.com, the powder can be easily substituted for brown sugar in a 2:1 ratio.)

"The caramel-coloured powder is versatile and easy to use; just mix it in with any food that would benefit from the maple rich natural fruit flavour," suggests Lewis.

Or, failing that, try blending it into a super healthy smoothie.

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