When it comes to superfoods, a vast majority have been traditionally cultivated around the amazon basin for thousands of years. The modern usage of many of todays top superfoods date back to the ancient rainforest tribes who used them to support the immune system, ward off viral infections, boost vitality and help maintain good health. Whether you're looking to improve everyday health and wellbeing, boost energy and vitality, or even help ward of an infection - the amazon basin is home to a wide and diverse range of nutrient-dense, antioxidant-rich powerhouses.
1. Camu Camu
This small riverside shrub grows in swampy or flooded areas of the Amazon Rainforests of Peru, Brazil, Venezuela and Colombia - producing a red/purple cherry-like fruit commonly referred to as Camu Camu Berries. By fresh weight, the berries contain between 2–3% vitamin c - which equates to roughly 60 times more vitamin C per serving than an orange. Traditionally, the berries have been used for viral infections including herpes, cold sores, shingles, and the common cold. Due to their rich antioxidant content, camu camu has also been used to help treat chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, gum disease, headaches, and osteoarthritis. Camu Camu is an excellent energy booster and has been proven help maintain healthy gums, eyes, and skin.
Maqui (pronounced "mah-kee") is an evergreen shrub native to Chile and Argentina. Its berries and juice have been used traditionally by the Amazonians for medicinal purposes to help weight loss, diabetes, heart disease, fatigue, detoxification and general health and wellness. High in antioxidants, these potent berries are renowned for their immune-stimulating, energy-boosting qualities. These antioxidant-rich fruits contain over 10 times more antixodants than red grapes, making them an incredible defender against harmful free radicals. Like most berries, they're also low in sugar which makes them a great choice for anyone on a low sugar/carbohyrdate diet.
Ahhh, the famous acaí berry. The self-proclaimed king of superfoods, Acaí berries come from a palm tree in South America. While a traditional food in South America for centuries as well as a treatment for diarrhea, acaí has recently become popular in western diets because of its wide range of health benefits. Acaí have very high levels of antioxidants - comparable to cranberries, but higher than blueberries, strawberries, and other fruits. In lab studies, antioxidants appear to protect cells from damage that can lead to diseases like cancer. Acaí berries also contain healthy fatty acids, such as oleic acid, one of the same oils found in olive oil.
Known as the “Gold of the Incas” by its native Peruvians, this subtropical fruit contains almost everything the body needs with an abundance of antioxidants, fiber, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. While you'll definitely be hard pressed to find this little gem at your local supermarket, the pulp of the lucuma fruit is dehydrated to produce the lucuma powder. Lucuma has been used for centuries in South America for its medicinal properties. Studies also show that lucuma is an excellent anti-inflammatory with anti-aging and skin-repair effects. Lucuma is also very high in fiber, making it an excellent contributer to gut health.
5. Maca Root
Legend has it that Incan Warriors consumed maca root before going into battle, such was it’s purported positive effect on vigor and stamina. It’s sometimes referred to as “South American Ginseng” and is one of the most widely studied Superfoods. Although technically referred to as a herb, maca root is more similar to a root vegetable. It's a starchy tuber that resembles a radish or a turnip but tastes more like a potato. Along with a host of health benefits, maca has been shown to increase mental clarity and improve stamina by supporting blood sugar levels and strengthening the adrenals.
Native to South America and the Southwestern United State, the mesquite plant produces a pod like fruit similar to peas or broad beans. Mesquite is a good source of protein (~17%), along with vitamins and minerals. As the sugar carbohydrate in mesquite is in a form which doesn't require insulin, it has a very low glycemic index (GI).
7. Sacha Inchi
Sacha Inchi is a star-shaped seed from the Amazon rainforest and is an excellent source of protein and micronutrients. Comprising of some 60% complete protein it's an excellent source of high quality, digestable protein and amino acids. Additionally, the sugar carbohydrate in mesquite is in a form which doesn’t require insulin, meaning it won't spike blood sugar levels. Along with a being a complete protein, Sacha inchi is extremely high in Omega-3, with around 50% of the fat from seeds. It's also highly digestible, easy on the stomach and has unique nutty taste.
8. Yacon Root
Used as both a food and natural sweetener, yacon root’s potential health benefits have led to its use as a dietary supplement as well. Yacon root can be beneficial for weight related health such as high cholesterol due to it being a natural laxative.
Additionally, yacon root contains important compounds that act as prebiotics in the body, improving digestive health and treating certain types of colitis. The increased bowel movements regularity associated with yacon root could be attributed to this prebiotic effect.
9. Chia Seeds
These little powerhouse seeds are an outstanding source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids but it’s the “gooeyness” of chia seed after being added to liquid that creates one of its best-known health benefits. The seed’s outer husk is hydrophilic, meaning it draws in fluid. When mixed in water, chia seeds can absorb 10 times their weight in fluid, making them an excellent way to pre-hydrate the body.
Often overlooked as a superfood, raw cacao is actually the highest source of magnesium and antioxidants in any food. Cacao is also a great source of serotonin, anandamide and phenylethylamine (PEA), four well-studied neurotransmitters, which are associated with feelings of well being and help alleviate depression. We have all experienced the positive feelings associated with eating chocolate, now we have access to pure raw unadulterated chocolate in the form of Organic Raw Cacao. This is much more potent than the processed chocolate and doesn't have any sugar or dairy products blocking the positive effects of all the goodies in Raw Cacao.
Consuming a highly varied diet of earth grown foods, particularly amazon superfoods can help provide the foundation to good health and wellbeing. While our lifestyle and taste buds don't always allow the inclusion of such vital vegetation, adding a superfood powder such Amazonia will help cover all your bases.