Imagine a fruit that not only looked eerily similar to a ripe avocado, but also had the same health benefits — and it left your mouth tasting of maple syrup. Now, you can make those sweet dreams a reality by chomping down on lucuma, a nutrient-rich superfood from Peru that’s starting to make its way into US supermarkets.
Known in its home country as the “Gold of the Incas,” lucuma has long been prized in South America for its medicinal benefits… and because it tastes so gosh darn sweet. However, the fruit tends to spoil soon after picking, which is why it’s taken a while to find its way up north. Walmart and other big-name chains offer powdered and frozen versions of lucuma that can be used as additives or sweeteners, though Bloomberg reports there’s been a push to stock the actual fresh fruit in more stores.
What are the health benefits of lucuma?
The lucuma has a green peel and yellow flesh punctured by a bulbous seed, which is why it’s often confused for an avocado. But just because it’s more on the dessert side of the flavor spectrum doesn’t mean it’s any less nutritious. Studies have shown that the Peruvian fruit is chock-full of iron, calcium, vitamin B3, potassium, and zinc, as well as protein and beta carotene. Plus, the flavonoids in lucuma do a bang-up job of slowing the signs of aging, including wrinkles. In fact, lucuma just might be your skin’s best friend. A 2010 paper published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology found that the natural oils in lucuma offered a “potential new treatment for cutaneous wounds, skin inflammatory conditions, and general skin care.”
How do you prepare lucuma?
Because the superfood has a remarkably low glycemic index, it can be a great sweet-tooth substitute for diabetics and women trying to cut sugar from their diets. If you find the fruit in powdered form, you can add it to an all-fruit smoothie as a healthy, natural sweetener. If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, you can do as the food blogger at the Unconventional Baker did and mix it with cashew butter for a heavenly fudge. However, our personal favorite is this sugar-free lucuma ice cream recipe that’s making us want to pass the dessert spoons. We love our superfoods even more when they’re summer-ready!