Lucuma is a deliciously sweet fruit that grows on the lucuma tree (Pouteria Lucuma) in the Andes of South America and in particular, Peru, where it has long been treasured for its medicinal properties. The Incas prized the subtropical fruit as a healthy source of sugar and, thanks to its distinctive shape (that closely resembles the female breast), regarded it as a potent symbol of fertility. Even today, the exceptionally nutritious fruit, which is crammed with fibre, vitamins and minerals and is extremely high in antioxidants, is still referred to as ‘Inca’s Gold’. Although fresh lucuma (or lucmo in Spanish) is difficult to obtain in Europe, it is widely available in a convenient powder form that makes a natural and wholesome substitute for refined sugars and artificial sweeteners.
Below we explore the many merits of lucuma powder and highlight two often-unknown benefits for your skin.
Lucuma powder – the healthy alternative to sugar
Lucuma powder is not only temptingly sweet – it also boasts an extremely low glycaemic value, which helps to prevent fluctuations in blood sugar levels when consumed and means that it’s an ideal sugar replacement for diabetics or those wanting to minimise their refined sugar or artificial sweetener intake. According to the NHS, excessive sugar consumption is bad for our health and may contribute to a number of modern diseases including obesity and type 2 Diabetes, whilst the dangers linked to artificial sweeteners such as aspartame are well documented.
Rich in the minerals iron, potassium, calcium and phosphorous, which support healthy cell function, lucuma powder contains an impressive amount of niacin too. Niacin helps to regulate cholesterol and triglycerides levels in our body and, together with the large quantities of B vitamins, carbohydrates and dietary fibre found in lucuma powder, promotes a healthy digestive system and regular bowel movements.
In addition, lucuma powder is literally brimming with beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant that is believed to help combat free radicals and demonstrably boost our immunity.
Lucuma powder – 2 beautiful benefits for your skin
Lucuma, which is renowned for its outstanding anti-inflammatory properties, has been used as a topical treatment for skin wounds and abrasions for centuries. Yet, did you know that consuming lucuma powder may also help to repair your sun damaged skin and can even prevent some of the more unwelcome signs associated with aging, such as fine lines and wrinkles?
1) Lucuma powder – promoting supple, radiant skin
Lucuma powder is packed with the important carotenoid known as beta-carotene – a red-orange pigment that is converted into vitamin A in our bodies, where it encourages cell repair and growth, visibly improves skin tone and reduces fine lines and wrinkles. Indeed a recent report by the State University of New Jersey revealed that lucuma powder not only stimulates wound closure and tissue regeneration, it also affords anti-inflammatory, anti-aging and skin-repair benefits for our skin.
2) Lucuma powder – preventing sun damaged skin
Beta-carotene is also thought to improve the effectiveness of sunscreens and studies show that a daily beta-carotene supplementation of 90 to 180 milligrams per day provides an SPF of 4 and helps to reduce the type of oxidative damage triggered by UV rays, thus actively preventing sunburn.
How to enjoy lucuma powder
Lucuma powder is blessed with an incredibly sweet flavour and an indulgently rich and creamy texture and is therefore utterly irresistible in a variety of smoothies, shakes and protein drinks. It’s also the perfect ingredient in a tempting range of puddings and cakes and is the ice cream flavour of choice in Chile and Peru.
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