Lucuma, scientifically known as Pouteria lucuma has its origins in Peru and is considered to be one of the several super foods. The flesh of this fruit resembles the consistency of the yolk of a hardboiled egg and hence is also called egg fruit. Lucuma tastes very sweet, similar to the taste of sweet potato and maple, and in many places, it is widely used as a sweetening agent in food items like ice cream. Outside of peru, Lucuma is mostly available in the form of Lucuma powder. The powder is obtained by dehydrating the inner pulp of the fruit. This subtropical fruit is ovoid in shape with green colored skin and yellow-orange colored flesh.
Lucuma is a rich source of vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and protein, which makes the fruit extremely beneficial for your health and well being. According to a report that has been published in the Journal of Medicinal Food in the year 2009, regular intake of lucuma may help in reducing high blood pressure and in managing diabetes. Lucuma, has also been referred to as the Gold of Incas by the Peruvians, who have been enjoying this fruit as a food source from time immemorial. For them, lucuma is also a symbol of fertility. Lucuma forms an indispensible element in many of their traditional celebrations too. They even have about 26 villages named after this exotic fruit. An interesting fact about the lucuma tree is that it takes almost five years to produce its first fruit. But once this happens, the tree will then be able to bear as much as 500 fruits each season. Usually, when other kinds of crops fail, people used to depend on lucuma for their food. As such, the lucuma tree also has the name ‘Tree of Life’.
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Processing of Lucuma
Lucuma fruit is generally harvested during the summer season (between January and April). The fresh fruit doesn’t last long and can easily become spoilt. The common method used therefore to preserve this fruit is by dehydrating it and grinding it into a fine powder. This method not only preserves the flavor and nutrients of the fruit, but also increases its shelf life. For dehydrating, the ripe lucuma is thoroughly washed and then cut into small pieces. These pieces are then dehydrated by keeping the temperature under 45°C to preserve its nutritional content. After the fruit has been dehydrated, it is ground into a fine powder and stored. Lucuma stored in such a way can last up to 2 years, with its flavor and nutrients intact.
Nutritional value of lucuma
Apart from being a sweetener, lucuma is also rich in fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, protein and carbohydrates. This fruit contains 14 trace elements, which includes significant amounts of calcium, potassium, magnesium and phosphorus. 100 grams of lucuma powder can provide you with 329 calories, 9.3 grams of water, 87grams of carbohydrates, 1.4 grams of protein, 2.3 grams of fiber, 92 mg of calcium and 186 mg of phosphorus.
Health benefits of Lucuma
Being a rich source of nutrients and antioxidants, Lucuma is highly beneficial to us in many ways.
Lucuma in treatment of diabetes
In spite of the fact that lucuma tastes very sweet and is used as a sweetening agent, it is found to be very effective in managing diabetes. This fruit falls in the category of foods with a low glycemic index and hence is suitable for people suffering from diabetes. It helps to control blood sugar levels and provides energy without causing considerable spikes or falls in the sugar levels.
Lucuma prevents weight gain
Just like most of the fruits, lucuma is also an excellent source of fiber. The advantage of eating fiber rich foods is that they have fewer calories and they make you feel full for a longer period of time. This prevents you from frequent snacking and overeating, which is very important when it comes to weight management.
Lucuma improves digestive health
The high content of fiber in lucuma helps in normalizing your bowel movements, thus preventing constipation. Fiber adds volume to your stool, making it easy to pass through the digestive tract. A diet rich in fibers is known to reduce the risk of many problems related to the digestive system such as stomach ulcers, diverticulitis, irritable bowel syndrome and gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD).
Lucuma promotes wound healing
Studies suggest that lucuma has both antifungal and antibiotic properties. It has been found to be highly effective in tissue regeneration and in wound closure. Lucuma nut oil when applied to the affected area helps to speed up the healing process.
Lucuma and cancer
Lucuma has been found to prevent some types of cancers. The antioxidants in this fruit fight against the free radicals that are harmful to your body. These toxins have been associated with causing many health problems including cancer.
Lucuma boosts your immune system
The nutrients and antioxidants in lucuma have the power to boost your immune system and protect you from many of the serious diseases.
Benefits of Lucuma for skin
Because of the excellent anti-inflammatory qualities of lucuma, it is used for healing abrasions and wounds of the skin. It also has the ability to reduce the effects of aging such as wrinkles and fine lines. Lucuma is rich in beta-carotene that promotes the growth and repair of cells, which in turn reduces the signs of aging. Beta-carotene also acts as a sunscreen, protecting your skin from the harmful UV rays of the sun.
Benefits for Lucuma for bones
Lucuma contains a significant amount of calcium and phosphorus that provides strength to the bones. Both these minerals are essential for the growth of your bones and also for keeping them healthy and strong.
Lucuma lowers cholesterol
It has been found that lucuma has the ability to reduce the levels of triglycerides and bad cholesterol (LDL) in your blood and reduce the risks of stroke and heart attack.
Lucuma helps to improve your mood
Lucuma is known to have the power to help you relax by balancing the hormone levels and also by managing conditions like stress, mood swings, anxiety and depression.
Lucuma provides energy
Lucuma is a fantastic fruit that is full of healthy carbohydrates. These carbohydrates, in addition to providing fuel and energy for your day to day activities, help in improving the functioning of your nervous system too.
Lucuma for muscle building
Proper nutrition and exercise are the two things that can help you build your muscles the natural way. Lucuma has been found to help in muscle building. This fruit, being rich in antioxidants offers you vitality. The high content of iron in lucuma helps to reduce fatigue so that you can recover from the muscle building exercise routines at a much faster rate. Muscle building depends to a great extent on the strength of your bones. The abundance of minerals like calcium and phosphorus in lucuma not only increases bone strength but also improves blood circulation.
Other medicinal properties of Lucuma
The leaves of the lucuma tree are found to have medicinal qualities. They are used for treating skin problems like ring worm infections or impetigo. Apart from having medicinal values, the leaves are also used as an excellent dye for coloring textiles.
Lucuma is a very healthy and nutritious fruit that can be added to your daily diet. One of the great things about this fruit is that it is extremely tasty without being unhealthy. Lucuma powder, when added as a sweetener to desserts, ice creams and other dairy products offers a plethora of health benefits. In addition to being a natural sweetener, lucuma is absolutely gluten free and rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that are essential to your body.
Where to get Lucuma
Lucuma powder can be purchased online. It is also available in many food stores and stores selling dietary supplements.
How to use lucuma
The flavor of lucuma is so exotic that it is used in many cuisines. Lucuma powder is widely used a flavoring and sweetening agent in ice creams and many other dairy products. It can be added to smoothies, yogurt, pudding, pastry and granola. It can also used in baking cookies and cakes. Not only is this fruit a great ingredient in desserts, it fits well in savory items too.
Some easy recipes that include lucuma
Mix ½ cup of Berries like blueberries, strawberries and raspberries, 1 banana, 1 cup milk or water, add half cup of mango pulp. Add to this the magic ingredient – 2 tbsp of Lucuma powder. Blend this with a blender till you get smooth consistency.
Mix Pancake mix, Brown sugar – 2 tablespoons, Lucuma – 3 tablespoons and Your desired fruits for toppings well. Just make regular pancakes from the mixture and enjoy the delicacy.
Lucuma ice cream
Mix ½ cup of Lucuma powder, 1 cup of presoaked cashew nuts, ½ cup of coconut nectar. Add a cup of water to this. Add 1 tbsp of vanilla essence and a pinch of sea salt. Blend well and allow to freeze. Use icecream maker and enjoy the mouth watering taste of Peruvian ice cream!