Lucuma is the fruit of the material lucuma tree native to South America, it has a hard green outer shell and soft yellow flesh with a dry texture and sweet flavor that is often likened to a mix of sweet potato and butterscotch. Nicknamed the gold of the Incas, lucuma has been used as a traditional remedy in South America for centuries. It is most commonly found in powder supplement form and touted for its many potential health benefits. What is more, due to its sweet taste it’s used as a healthier alternative to table sugar and other popular sweeteners.
Here are nine surprising benefits of lucuma powder.
1. A source of nutrition
Lucuma can be eaten raw but is most commonly found in a dried powdered supplement form that is often used as a natural sweetener. One tablespoon 7.5 grams of lucuma powder provides calories: 30, Protein: 0 grams, Fat: 0 grams, carbs: 6 grams, sugars: 1.5 grams, fiber: 2 grams. Lucuma contains less sugar but more nutrients than table sugar, more specifically, it has about half the carbs and 75 percent less sugar than the same amount of table sugar. Lucuma powder also offers a relatively good amount of both soluble and insoluble fiber, unlike most other common sweeteners such as table sugar.
Insoluble fiber adds bulk to your stool and prevents constipation by helping food move smoothly through your gut, soluble fiber feeds your beneficial gut bacteria which in turn produce short-chain fatty acids SCFA like acetate propionate and butyrate. These are then used as food by cells in your gut keeping them healthy. These short-chain fats also protect against inflammation and improve symptoms of gut disorders including irritable bowel syndrome is Crohn’s disease and also ulcerative colitis.
One tablespoon 7.5 grams of lucuma powder also provides some calcium, iron, potassium, niacin and vitamin C, though these amounts generally cover less than one percent of the daily value DV still it’s more nutritious than other popular sweeteners.
2. Contains a variety of antioxidants
Lucuma contains a variety of antioxidants which are powerful compounds that help protect your cells from damage caused by highly reactive molecules called free radicals. Consuming a diet rich in antioxidants may help protect against health conditions like heart disease and certain cancers. For instance, research shows that lucuma is particularly rich in polyphenols carotenoids two groups of antioxidants know for their anti-inflammatory, cancer-fighting and heart health-promoting properties. It’s especially high in xanthophylls a group of carotenoids responsible for lucuma’s yellow color that is thought to promote eye health and good vision.
Lucuma is also packed with vitamin C – a nutrient with antioxidant properties that plays many important roles in your body such as supporting vision, a strong immune system and heart health. Additionally, the polyphenols and lucuma are thought to offer strong protection against chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease, however, research on the specific types of antioxidants in lucuma is limited and more studies are needed to fully understand the potential antioxidant benefits of this fruit.
3. Help to control blood sugar
Despite being rich in carbs, lucuma may offer some protection against type 2 diabetes. In part, this may be because most of its carbs are complex, carbs can be split into three categories sugars. These are short-chain types of cards found in many foods examples include glucose, fructose and lactose, they are quickly digested and can lead to spikes in your blood sugar level. Starches are longer chains of sugars that get broken down into sugars in your gut, they take longer to digest and are less likely to spike blood sugar levels drastically. Fiber is s type of non-digestible carb that is broken down and used as food by beneficial gut bacteria, it helps maintain stable blood sugar levels.
Sugars are considered simple carbs while starches and fiber are thought of as complex. Complex carbs such as the starches and fiber making up most of the carbs in lucuma have been shown to promote healthy blood sugar levels, what is more, the soluble fiber in lucuma may protect against diabetes by improving insulin sensitivity and preventing blood sugar spikes after a meal or snack. Moreover, test tube research shows that the blood sugar-lowering mechanisms of lucuma may be comparable to those of certain anti-diabetic drugs.
It prevents the action of the alpha casitas enzyme which is responsible for breaking down complex carbs into a simple sugar that tends to spike blood sugar levels. lucuma is often claimed to have a low glycemic index GI which means that it would raise blood sugar levels to a much lower extent than other sweeteners like pure sugar, if true this would be another reason why lucuma may benefit blood sugar control. However, no studies have confirmed lucuma’s GI score as with all sweeteners it is likely best consumed in moderation. Overall, more research is needed on the potential beneficial effects of lucuma on blood sugar control.
3. May promote heart health
Lucuma may offer some protection against heart disease likely due to its polyphenol content. Polyphenols are beneficial to plant compounds thought to protect against high blood pressure and heart disease. One test-tube study found that lucuma may prevent the action of the angiotensin eye converting enzyme ace which is involved in regulating your blood pressure. By doing so, lucuma may help lower blood pressure. Though preliminary results seem promising research is lacking and more studies are needed to confirm these heart health benefits in humans.
4. Can be used for baking or desserts
Lucuma powder can be used as a substitute for sugar in pies, cakes and other desserts or baked goods. Lucuma’s texture is comparable to granulated sugar but its taste is more similar to that of brown sugar. You can use a one-two ratio by volume to substitute brown sugar for lucuma. For instance, use one cup of 120 grams of lucuma for each a half cup 200 grams of brown sugar.
Still, you may need to experiment a little as it may not work well for all recipes. Lucuma is also a popular flavoring for dishes like ice cream and other desserts. Plus, it can be added to yogurt oatmeal smoothies and homemade nut milk to provide a hint of natural sweetness, sure to please adults and children alike.
5. Easy to add to your diet
Fresh lucuma fruit may be difficult to find but lucuma powder is widely available, both online and in health food stores. You can easily give lucuma powder a try by sprinkling a little over muesli oats or cereals. Alternatively, add some to smoothies or use it instead of sugar in your dessert or bake good recipes. While lucuma can be added to your diet in many ways, keep in mind that research on this supplement is limited and its potential side effects are currently unknown.
Lucuma is a fruit native to South America that is most commonly found as a powdered supplement, it may offer several health benefits such as regulating blood sugar levels improving heart health and providing a powerful dose of beneficial antioxidants. The research is limited, if you are curious about this exotic fruit and powder, try replacing table sugar in your drinks or foods with a small quantity of this natural healthy sweetener.
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