Lucuma is a delicious fruit with a unique flavor. It is rich in essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that help reduce the risk of several diseases. It has been valued as a fertility fruit and is a staple in parts of South America. The fruit can be consumed fresh or dried, and its powdered form can substitute table sugar.
In this article, we explore the health benefits of lucuma fruit, its nutritional profile, and how you can add it to your diet. We will also look at its potential side effects, if any. Keep reading.
What Is Lucuma Fruit?
Lucuma fruit belongs to the Sapotaceae family. The plant originates from the Andean valleys of Bolivia and Peru in South America, and is mostly cultivated during the summer. The fruits are small to medium and are oval-shaped. Their peel is very smooth and thin, and their color varies from dark to light green. Lucuma’s flavor is unique and sweet, and is best eaten fresh.
Let us look at the nutritional profile of lucuma in the following section. Keep reading!
Nutritional Profile Of Lucuma Fruit
100g of lucuma contain (1):
Lucuma fruit offers an array of health benefits. Continue reading to know them.
Health Benefits Of Lucuma Fruit
1. May Help Control Blood Sugar Levels
Lucuma’s low glycemic index (it digests slowly) helps maintain steady blood sugar levels. The fruit contains soluble fiber that keeps blood sugar from rising. The fiber in the fruit may also improve insulin sensitivity (2). It inhibits enzymes like alpha-amylase, alpha-glucosidase, and angiotensin I-converting enzyme (ACE). These enzymes break up carbohydrates and can significantly raise post-prandial (post-meal) blood glucose levels. Hence, inhibiting them helps manage hyperglycemia and hypertension linked to type 2 diabetes (3).
2. May Boost Heart Health
Lucuma is rich in antioxidants like polyphenols and carotenoids that may help improve heart health (4),(5). However, more research is warranted to understand this benefit of carotenoids. As stated, lucuma may significantly inhibit the production of angiotensin I-converting enzyme (ACE). This enzyme may increase blood pressure by constricting blood vessels. It may also increase thirst and the desire for salt, which may significantly elevate blood pressure (3). Inhibiting this action of ACE may help manage blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
People with hypertension have a greater risk of developing heart disease. The phenolic compounds and potassium present in the fruit have properties that reduce hypertension and prevent heart disease (3), (6). This health condition may be managed to some extent by consuming juices or smoothies mixed with lucuma.
3. May Reduce Constipation
Lucuma contains significant levels of insoluble dietary fiber (that does not dissolve in water). This helps food move through your digestive system and prevent constipation (7). Intake of dietary fiber was also shown to increase stool frequency in patients with constipation. Besides, healthy-eating behaviors and timely intake of recommended levels of dietary fiber may help manage constipation among adults (8). However, dietary fiber may not improve stool consistency and painful defecation.
4. May Reduce The Risk Of Cancer
A variety of antioxidants in lucuma may contribute to its ability to fight certain cancers. β-sitosterol, a component found in lucuma, is an anticancer nutraceutical. Unlike chemotherapy, it turns out to be non-toxic (though it is less powerful too). Besides, β-sitosterol was proven to show anticancer activity in animals (9). The gallic acid in lucuma also acts as an antioxidant and may protect against cancer. The fruit also contains pectin and tannins. Pectin has anti-tumor activity while tannins may significantly combat the formation and development of tumor cells (10).
5. May Promote Skin Health
Lucuma contains vitamin C and beta-carotene (a vitamin A derivative), which contribute to skin health. Vitamin C improves collagen production and protects the skin from UVB rays. Beta-carotene is a highly effective antioxidant and has photo-protective properties (11).
You can reap all these benefits by including lucuma in your diet. Here are a few ways to do it.
How To Add Lucuma To Your Diet?
- Substitute For Sugar: Lucuma has a sweet taste and is often used as a substitute for table sugar in various delicacies.
- Lucuma Ice Cream: Adding 1/4 cup of lucuma powder (as needed) to ice cream enhances its flavor.
- Baked Foods: Substitute table sugar with lucuma powder in baking. It enhances the flavor of cakes, cookies, and pastries.
- Beverages: Mix lucuma powder with tea or coffee. Use 2 tablespoons of lucuma powder instead of regular sugar to make smoothies.
- Flavoring Agent: Lucuma powder can act as a sweet flavoring agent for yogurt and oatmeal. Add it to your favorite meals and enjoy the treat.
Lucuma may also exert a few undesirable side effects in a few people. Continue reading to know them.
Potential Side Effects And Allergies Of Lucuma Fruit
- Mild Hypoglycemia
Anecdotal evidence indicates that lucuma may cause hypoglycemia (blood sugar levels lower than normal) in some individuals. Consult a doctor if you have hypoglycemia and want to add lucuma to your diet.
An itchy tongue, rashes, and headache were observed in a few people immediately after consuming lucuma. However, the medical literature has not shown any evidence for this. To be on the safe side, stop eating this fruit and consult your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms.
Lucuma is a sweet exotic fruit and tastes similar to a mix of sweet potatoes and butterscotch. The fruit is both delicious and healthy, and can be consumed as fruit or powder. It may control blood sugar levels, reduce the risk of cancer, promote heart health, improve skin health, and reduce fatigue and constipation. Lucuma has fewer side effects and may rarely cause mild hypoglycemia and allergic reactions. Follow the above-mentioned ways to add the fruit to your diet. Try substituting table sugar with lucuma powder wherever possible.
Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions
Does lucuma contain caffeine?
No, lucuma does not contain caffeine.
Is lucuma gluten-free?
Lucuma is gluten-free and is suitable for a vegan diet.
Is lucuma the same as maca?
Maca is a root while lucuma is a fruit. However, the dried powder forms of both maca and lucuma are low in fat, a good source of carbs, and are high in essential vitamins and minerals.
How do you plant lucuma?
Lucuma can be grown by pollinating two to three trees. They take six to eight months to grow.
In which season is lucuma available?
Lucuma is available throughout the year. However, it is abundant in summer.
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- Total Insoluble and Soluble Dietary Fiber Intake and Insulin Resistance and Blood Pressure in Adolescents
- Evaluation of antihyperglycemic and antihypertension potential of native Peruvian fruits using in vitro models
- The role of polyphenols in modern nutrition
- Carotenoids and cardiovascular health
- Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors 2012 – cardiovascular considerations and trial evaluation
- Diets for Constipation
- Dietary fibre intakes and reduction in functional constipation rates among Canadian adults: a cost-of-illness analysis
- Anti-tumour effects of beta-sitosterol are mediated by AMPK/PTEN/HSP90 axis in AGS human gastric adenocarcinoma cells and xenograft mouse models
- Lucuma ( Pouteria lucuma ): Composition bioactive components antioxidant activity uses and beneficial properties for health
- Discovering the link between nutrition and skin aging