Coming to South America we couldn’t wait to taste new foods. What we found here are hundreds of different dishes, fruits, vegetables, drinks and spices we didn’t know even existed! It turns out that South American markets, gardens and forests are filled with delicious fruits and plants so healthy that most of them should be called super-foods! Here are some of them which we found both delicious and great to improve your health.
Syzygium cumini, known also as Jambolan, Java Plum or simply a Black Plum. The fruit is native for the Indian Subcontinent and was brought to Suriname by Indian emigrants during the British colonization.
The Jamun seed, leaf, fruit and bark are used in various alternative healing systems like Ayurveda, Unani and Chinese medicine for digestive ailments or controling a diabetes. Some people use jambolan as an aphrodisiac to increase interest in sexual activity, and as a tonic. It’s a high source of vitamins A and C. In cuisine it is commonly used to produce wine and vinegar.
Alpinia galanga- a plant in the ginger family, it is a plant used in cooking, especially in Indonesian and Thai cuisines. Known as greater galangal (or simply Thai galangal), also called Thai ginger.
Similar in taste to ginger, Laos is commonly used in Thai and Indonesian cuisine either fresh or mashed and mixed into curry paste.
The blue ginger is used to cure cold and sore throath as well as boost digestion and stimulate apetite. In the Middle East, there is a tradition of using the herb as a remedy for rheumatic pains and arthritis. It is also used to treat hiccups, nausea, vomiting as well as a painkiller and to reduce a fever.
Syzygium malaccense, commonly known as Rose Apple or Malay Apple. It is a species of flowering tree native to Malesia and Australia. It has been introduced throughout the tropics, including many Caribbean countries and territories.
Rose apples are rich in vitamin C, dietary fiber, vitamin A, calcium, thiamin, niacin, iron, sulfur, and potassium. It helps control blood sugar level and supports a healthy digestion. It is used as a cancer prevention treatment and helps to clear out liver and kidney toxicity. The fiber and nutrient combination in rose apples have shown significant effects on cholesterol levels. Including pommerac into your dier has antimicrobial and anti-fungal effects. It can protect the skin from developing various infections and can boost the strength of the immune system against infectious diseases.
Artocarpus altilis is a species of flowering tree in the mulberry and jackfruit family originating in the South Pacific. Its name is derived from the texture of the moderately ripe fruit when cooked, similar to freshly baked bread and having a potato-like flavor. The trees have been widely planted in tropical regions, including lowland Central America, northern South America, and the Caribbean.
It is a rich source of vitamin C and a good source of thiamin and potassium. It contains good amounts of antioxidants, which help the body to develop resistance against infectious agents. Breadfruit has relatively high amounts of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, which are vital for the proper development of the mind and body. Ashes of the breadfruit leaves are useful for curing skin infections.
Averrhoa carambola, a species of tree native to the Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Nepal and India commonly known as starfruit. The entire fruit is edible, including the slightly waxy skin. Ripe sweet type carambolas are sweet without being overwhelming as they rarely have more than 4% sugar content. They have a tart, sour undertone, and an oxalic acid odor.
Star fruit contains good quantities of vitamin-C. Vitamin-C is a powerful natural antioxidant. 100 g of fresh fruit provides 34.7 mg or 57% of daily required levels of vitamin-C. Carambola is rich in antioxidants and it is a good source of B-complex vitamins such as folates, riboflavin, and pyridoxine (vitamin B-6). Together, these vitamins help as co-factors for enzymes in metabolism as well as in various synthetic functions inside the body.
Mauritia flexuosa, known as the moriche palm, muriti, canangucho (Colombia), or aguaje (Peru), is a palm tree. It grows in and near swamps and other wet areas in tropical South America. It has been reported from Trinidad, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia.
Moriche palm fruit is edible and used to make juice, jam, ice cream, a fermented “wine”, desserts and snacks.
The inflorescence buds are eaten as a vegetable and the sap can be drunk fresh or fermented. Threads and cords are locally produced from the tree’s fibers.
The oil contains high concentrations of oleic acid, tocopherols and carotenoids, especially betacarotene. Recently it has been found to filter and absorb cancer-causing UV rays from the sun. Aguaje is an extraordinary fruit, containing between 7 – 12 times the beta carotene of carrots, making it the most concentrated natural plant source of beta carotene in the world!
Aguaje is being hailed as an “Amazonian Superfood” and a “Curvy Fruit” that can increase female curves!
7. Begonia glabra
This plant is commonly known in Central and South America. In wilderness it grows around trees climbing up trunks. It has a pleasant, grassy and fresh flavour and can be easily used in salads. If by a series of some unfortunate events you get lost in a rainforest, begonia glabra might save your life and keep you nourished before you find the way out.
The cacao tree is native to the Americas. It originated in Central America and parts of Mexico. More than 5,000 years ago, it was consumed by pre-Columbian cultures along the Yucatán, including the Mayans, and as far back as Olmeca civilization in spiritual ceremonies. It also grows in the foothills of the Andes in the Amazon and Orinoco basins of South America, in Colombia and Venezuela.
There are endless benefits of consuming cocoa. Apart from being the most important ingredient of chocolate which brings up the spirits and heals bad moods since centuries, cacao imrove your health in thousand different ways.
Health benefits of cocoa include relief from high blood pressure, cholesterol, obesity, constipation, diabetes, bronchial asthma, cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, and various neurodegenerative diseases. It is beneficial for quick wound healing, skin care, and it helps to improve cardiovascular health and brain health. It also helps in treating copper deficiency. It possesses mood-enhancing properties and exerts protective effects against neurotoxicity.
Soursop or Corosol is the fruit of Annona muricata, a broadleaf, flowering, evergreen tree. The exact origin is unknown; it is native to the tropical regions of the Americas and is widely propagated. The flavour of the fruit has been described as the one similar to pear, with sour citrus flavour notes contrasting with an underlying creamy texture reminiscent of coconut or banana. The pulp is used to make fruit nectar, smoothies, fruit juice drinks, as well as candies, sorbets, and ice cream flavorings.
Soursop is widely promoted (sometimes as “graviola”) as an alternative cancer treatment. There is, however, no medical evidence that it is effective.
The fruit contains significant amounts of vitamin C, vitamin B1 and vitamin B2. By brewing a tea from the leaves of the fruit, you can cleanse your gut and ensure that your gastrointestinal system is running smoothly. If you are suffering from joint pain or inflammation, then rubbing a decoction of soursop on the affected area can be away to find some relief. The anti-inflammatory compounds found in soursop can quickly speed healing in affected areas, while also soothing pain and improving flexibility.
Soursop tea has been used as a stress relieving strategy for centuries. There are certain anti-inflammatory and soothing properties of soursop that make it very effective if you are suffering from excessive stress and anxiety.
You can pulverize the seeds of the soursop fruit into a powder, which can then be formulated into a skin astringent, helping you to reduce lines and wrinkles, and improve the appearance of age spots and blemishes.
More commonly known as achiote, this fruit is known for the food coloring and condiment that is extracted from its seeds called annatto. The achiote tree is a tropical shrub or small tree that grows in Central and South America. Many cuisines traditionally use annatto to give the rice a yellow color. In Venezuela, annatto is used in the preparation of hallacas, perico, and other traditional dishes. Annatto seeds are also a component of some local sauces and condiments, such as recado rojo in Yucatán. Annatto paste is an important ingredient of cochinita pibil, the spicy pork dish popular in Mexico. It is also a key ingredient in the drink tascalate from Chiapas, Mexico.
The high carotenoid content in kusuwe functions as antioxidants in your ocular system keeping your vision strong for years. If you’ve been looking for an anti-aging solution for your skin, annatto pastes made from the seeds can be topically applied to reduce the signs of wrinkles, blemishes, and other imperfections, while also tightening up the skin and making it look younger. There is an impressive amount of folate (folic acid) found in annatto, and while there are many important benefits of this vitamin, preventing neural tube defects in newborn children might be the most important.