Top 7 Amazon Superfoods
It’s impossible to take a trip to your local grocery store without encountering quinoa, maca or goji berries stocked on the shelves. In recent years, we have been overloaded with information about various “superfoods” and how they can aid with fighting off diseases, weight loss and improving your overall health.
Quinoa and maca, the famous Incan superfoods from the Andes mountain region, have already made their mark on North American and European diets, but as scientists expand their research, a new wave of superfoods are hitting the market. In the depths of the Amazon rainforest, nutrient-rich superfoods have been healing the Amazon indigenous population for centuries.
Here are the top 7 Amazon superfoods to start including in your daily diets (and to try on your Amazon river cruise!):
1. Acai Berries - Glowing Skin
Acai berries grow in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest. They are tiny purple berries (similar to grapes) and grow on palm trees. Acai berries have been considered a superfood for a few years, because of their antioxidant, high fiber and healthy fat properties (omega fatty acids). These berries help support healthy hair, skin and nails.
Acai is also known to aid with digestive problems by keeping your digestive system in optimal function. Their high vitamin C content protects you from cardiovascular diseases and increases your overall energy. When it comes to superfoods, acai berries are the whole package.
Now, there are a large variety of acai products available in the market. You can incorporate acai into your daily diet by adding acai to your salad, oatmeal, cereal or dessert. You can also blend the berries with your morning smoothie, or if you’re daring enough, add them to your salty evening meal. It’s been said that acai berries are a mixture of red wine and chocolate, what more could you ask from a fruit!?
2. Camu Camu Fruit - The Cold Doctor
Camu camu is rumored to be the new Acai berry. This fruit is becoming increasingly popular as a health supplement for its high antioxidant and anti-viral properties. This superfood grows in the Amazon rainforest of Peru and Brazil. It is about the size of a lemon and completely full of vitamin C.
Camu camu is used for medicinal purposes to fight off cold sores, herpes and your common cold. This superfood has been used to fight inflammation and because it contains Valine (an amino acid), camu camu prevents muscle breakdown and it is important for your nervous system’s cognitive function.
If you are lucky enough to be traveling through Peru or Brazil, take advantage of this superfruit and drink it in freshly squeezed juices (or cocktails). Unfortunately you will not be able to find the camu camu fruit in your average North American grocery store, but you can consume it in powder or tablet form. Blend your camu camu powder in your favorite smoothie recipe for an optimal health boost!
3. Maracuya (Passion Fruit) - Stress Reliever
Maracuya, known as passion fruit, has a surprising amount of health and medicinal benefits. Passion fruit can be found all over South America, particularly in the Amazon region. It’s about as big as a grapefruit, and has a juicy interior with an abundance of seeds. A cup of passion fruit contains about 25% of your daily recommended amount of carotenoids (Vitamin A). Vitamin A is crucial for maintaining healthy skin and good vision.
The rich vitamin C content of the passion fruit will help you absorb iron from all of your daily meals. Passion fruit seeds are also abundant with insoluble fiber, which will help your digestive tract run smoothly. It’s recommended to blend passion fruit in your morning juice or smoothie to kickstart your fibre intake for the day.
The most interesting health benefit of passion fruit is that it is a natural stress and anxiety reducer. A tall glass of passion fruit juice will help you clear your mind and unwind after a stressful day. Trust us, this works!
4. Cupuacu - The Pain Killer
Cupuacu is a superfruit that grows in the Amazon region. It grows on a tree of its same name, and the fruits are the size of a large mango. The cupuacu has been cultivated by indigenous peoples for centuries, but only now it is in the North American spotlight because of its extremely potent vitamins, antioxidants and essential nutrients.
The primary health benefit of this amazon superfood is heightening the body’s immune system and lowering blood pressure. It has a caffeine like effect, but does not actually contain any caffeine. Your body will not experience the caffeine crash. Anyone suffering from high cholesterol will benefit from consuming cupuacu as it is known for lowering the body’s overall cholesterol level through lipid inhibition.
The natives of the Amazon use cupuacu for pain relief, especially during child birth. The theacrine component which gives you energy also works wonders as a natural anti-inflammatory. You can apply it directly to your skin, or consume it.
5. Aguaje - Miracle Fruit
The aguaje fruit is another Amazon nutrient-rich superfood that is cultivated by the local people living within the Peruvian Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve. The aguaje fruit has three times more vitamin A than a carrot and is packed with protein, vitamins and oils. It’s also very high in vitamin C content and often used to make jam, juice and ice cream.
Aguaje is known as a miracle fruit because it’s used to treat burns. When applied directly to a burn, the high vitamin A, vitamin E and oil content soothes the wound. The rich beta-carotene component is known to protect from sun damage and is used as a natural sunblock. Aguaje has been used to treat various skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema. The natural anti-inflammatory reaction tames redness and calms the skin.
The reason for this Amazon miracle fruit’s new found fame is for its phytoestrogens (plant based estrogens). It is nicknamed the “Curvy Fruit” because it naturally increases female curves. It balances hormones levels during “that time of the month,” eases hot flushes during menopause and even restores fertility. Check your local health foods store to see if Aguaje supplements are stocked on their shelves. This miracle fruit is something you’ll want to start including in your daily diet.
6. Raw Cacao - An Antioxidant Powerhouse
Who doesn't love chocolate? Cacao is one of the easiest superfoods to incorporate into your daily diet and routine. It’s easy to blend cacao powder in a smoothie, or add a spoon to your morning cereal or oatmeal. Being the purest form of chocolate, it is an antioxidant powerhouse (40x the antioxidants of blueberries), so you don’t have to feel guilty consuming it.
Make raw cacao apart of your regular diet to benefit from natural energy, mental alertness and focus. Cacao also has more calcium than cow’s milk and is the highest plant-based source of iron. It’s full of magnesium for a healthy heart and brain. Why not try baking a batch of raw cacao brownies for the ultimate comfort superfood.
7. Sacha Inchi Seeds - Amino Acid Boost
Our last Amazon superfood, but certainly not the least, is full of protein. Packing a whopping 75% protein and 25% Omega-3’s by size, the Sacha Inchi seed contains all of the essential amino acids your body needs. Sacha Inchi has been cultivated in the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest for centuries and is now becoming widely used to promote weight loss. Some say that the seeds help burn excess abdominal fat.
Sacha Inchi seeds are also used to fight off depression, high cholesterol and prevent heart disease. It can be consumed as a snack, in tablet form or as an oil. Our tip - why not roast the Sacha Inchi seeds for a perfect, tasty afternoon snack.