A country defined by its dramatic landscapes, fertile rainforests and vast wetlands, Brazil’s natural terrain is a bounty of superfoods – foods known for their nutrient-rich content and immense health properties. Here’s our pick of the 12 Brazilian superfoods that the health world is buzzing about right now.
A staple part of Brazilians’ diet for centuries, this has since become one of the most praised superfoods. Acai is a small purple berry that grows naturally in the Amazon rainforest. It is packed with antioxidants, far more than in other berries such as blueberries and strawberries. It is also a good source of fiber and healthy fats. Finding acai berries outside of Brazil can be tricky, but it’s easy to buy it in powder form to add to smoothies or yogurts.
A close relative to the cocoa plant, the cupuaçu has a chocolate flavor mixed with a slight citrus undertone. In addition to its great taste, the white pulp is rich in antioxidants and amino acids. It is sold as a butter that can be added to smoothies or used as an alternative to oil when cooking. It can also be rubbed directly onto the skin and hair to leave it soft and smooth – and smelling wonderful.
In Brazil, the most common type of coconut is the Anao coconut, which has a smooth, green shell. The water inside is low in calories and rich in potassium, making it an ideal healthy way to stay hydrated on the beach or simply as an occasional alternative to water.
Brazil nuts are a great source of selenium and eating just three of them will give you your recommended daily amount. Selenium is good for those with an underactive thyroid and it has also been linked to helping to combat depression, boosting the immune system and even impeding the development of cancer.
Brazil has several types of banana from huge bananas known as plantain to smaller, sweet ones known as silver bananas. All of them are a great source of potassium and contain resistant starch, which is a healthy carb that helps fill you up and prevents snacking. Bananas have also been linked to lowering blood pressure.
The unusual taste of camu camu takes a little time to get used to, yet the health benefits are enormous – camu camu contain 100 times more vitamin C than lemon and is great for supporting the immune system. It’s also high in beta-carotene, protein and good fatty acids. The most popular way of eating camu camu is as a powder that can be added to a smoothie or as a supplement pill.
Cassava is a popular root in Brazil that is often eaten fried at bars. It is considered a superfood as one cup of raw cassava root contains one-half of your daily recommended amount of vitamin C. It also helps replenish collagen, which is vital for anti-aging and has significant quantities of folate, fiber and potassium. It’s also a great option for those that prefer to eat gluten-free.
Guarana is a red plant that grows in the Amazon and contains a superfood seed that has twice as much caffeine than a coffee bean. As a result, it is considered a rich source of antioxidants and its caffeine-properties speeds up metabolism that burns fat quicker.
Watermelons grow naturally in Brazil. They’re mostly made up of water, a characteristic that gives them low sugar and calorie properties. They are high in vitamin A and C and have been linked to lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of heart disease.
A key ingredient in the Brazilian diet and often eaten at lunch and dinner, the black bean is a fantastic superfood. They are high in protein that helps fill you up for longer, as well as being a great source of fiber, folate and magnesium. They have also been linked to lowering cholesterol.
Passionfruits are delicious when mixed with a smoothie or granola bowl, making it an easy way of enjoying the benefits of this superfood. One cup contains a quarter of the recommended daily amount of vitamin A which is crucial for good skin and good vision. They are rich in vitamin C and fiber, also being a natural remedy for reducing anxiety and stress.
Sweet potatoes are popular in Brazil and are sometimes eaten as part of a smoothie. Just half a sweet potato contains an enormous quantity of Vitamin A – 450% of the daily amount. This is good for the skin, hair and the immune system.