Discovering Peru’s Nutritional Powerhouses: The Top 10 Superfoods to Try

Discovering Peru’s Nutritional Powerhouses: The Top 10 Superfoods to Try

Peru is known for its rich history, unique culture, and beautiful landscapes. Apart from that, in recent years it has gained popularity for its abundance of “superfoods,” nutrient-dense foods thought to provide considerable health benefits.

The country of the Incas is home to a plethora of superfoods that have received popularity worldwide, ranging from cacao to quinoa. Being loaded with vitamins, antioxidants and protein, these foods are frequently seen as a crucial component of a healthy diet. In fact, they are increasingly found in a variety of products, ranging from energy bars to smoothie bowls.

In this blog post, we’ll look at the top ten Peruvian superfoods, as well as their nutritional benefits and cultural significance. Whether you’re a health fanatic or simply trying to broaden your culinary horizons, the following info about Peruvian superfoods will be interesting for you.

Table of contents:

The Top 10 Peruvian Superfoods to Try

1. Quinoa

black and white quinoa on wooden spoon and in two white bowls

This grain-like crop has been cultivated for thousands of years in the Andean region of South America, specifically in Peru, Bolivia, and Chile. Back in the days it was a staple food of the Inca civilization that was already highly valued for its nutritional benefits.

Quinoa is considered a complete protein as it contains all nine essential amino acids, making it an ideal food source for vegetarians and vegans. It is also high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals such as iron, magnesium, and potassium. As it’s also gluten-free, it’s an excellent alternative for those who are sensitive to gluten.

There are various types of Peruvian quinoa, including purple, pink, yellow, gray, orange, red, green and black, each with its unique flavor and texture. It can be used in a variety of dishes, from salads to stir-fries and deserts. In general, it’s often used as a substitute for rice or couscous.


2. Cacao

cacao nibs next to wooden bowl and spoon on brown surface

Cacao is one of the oldest superfoods from Peru and is derived from the cacao tree. It has a rather bitter flavor and is used to make chocolate, cocoa butter, and cocoa powder.

It’s considered a superfood due to its high content of antioxidants and also of minerals such as magnesium, iron and calcium. Apart from that, it’s a rich source of flavanols, known to improve blood flow and lower blood pressure.

One of the most significant health benefits of cacao is its ability to boost mood and reduce stress. Cacao contains several compounds that promote the production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, which is why chocolate is often associated with happiness.

The most popular way to consume cacao is in the form of chocolate, cocoa powder and cacao nibs. By the way, did you know that dark chocolate with a high percentage of cacao is a healthier option? This is because it contains less sugar and more antioxidants than milk chocolate.


3. Chia seeds

chia seeds on wooden spoon and bowl

The chia seeds were once a staple food for the Aztecs and Mayans, who believed they had supernatural powers. Nowadays, the tiny black seeds are known as a superfood due to their many nutritional benefits.

Apart from being an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids that are low in calories and carbohydrates, they are also high in protein, fiber and minerals such as zinc, magnesium, calcium and phosphorus.

One of the unique properties of Peruvian chia seeds is their ability to absorb water and form a gel-like substance in the stomach. Believe it or not, but chia seeds can become up to 12 times their original size when soaked in water. This property can help to keep you feeling full for longer, reducing the urge to snack and promoting weight loss

In today’s diet, chia seeds are mainly used in smoothies, oatmeal, yogurt or sprinkled on top of salads or baked goods.


4. Maca

maca root

Maca is a root vegetable that is native to Peru’s Andes and has been cultivated for many years for its nutritional and medicinal properties. It’s considered a Peruvian superfood as it’s high in vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, copper, iron, potassium and also a great source of fiber.

Apart from that, maca is commonly used to improve fertility and sexual function

Its flavor is earthy and nutty, which is why it’s often added as a supplement to smoothies, oatmeal or baked goods. Maca can be consumed in various forms, including powder, capsules or as a beverage served as typical Peruvian street food for breakfast.


5. Kiwicha (Amaranth)

amaranth on wooden spoon

Kiwicha, also known as amaranth, is a superfood grain that has been cultivated in the Andes for thousands of years. It’s a rich source of protein, fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals, including magnesium, calcium, iron and vitamin C. As it’s also gluten-free, it’s a fantastic alternative for those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.

What’s especially striking about Kiwicha is its high content of amino acids, including lysine, which is typically lacking in other grains. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, which is essential for muscle growth and repair.

In addition to its nutritional benefits, this Peruvian superfood is also believed to have many potential health benefits. It is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and may help to reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Kiwicha can be consumed as a whole grain, flour, or popped like popcorn. It has a nutty flavor and is often added to salads, soups or used as a replacement for rice or quinoa. It can also be used to make bread or other baked goods.


6. Lucuma

lucuma cut in half on wooden surface

Lucuma is a sweet, subtropical Peruvian fruit that has a unique flavor and many health benefits. It’s low in sugar, contains a unique blend of vitamins and minerals, including beta-carotene, iron, zinc and calcium and is also high in antioxidants.

What’s most likely the most unique property of lucuma is its caramel or maple-like flavor. That’s why this fruit is often used as a natural sweetener in smoothies and desserts.

Lucuma is also known for its anti-inflammatory properties that may help to reduce the risk of chronic diseases and for its property to help to reduce inflammation in the digestive system.

This superfood can be consumed as a fresh fruit, dried fruit or as a powder in smoothies and yogurt or used as a sweetener in baked goods.

To learn more about Lucuma and other Peruvian superfood fruits, we recommend the following video:


7. Camu camu

camu camu plant in red and green on tree

Camu camu is a small, tart fruit growing in Peru’s Amazon rainforest. It has been used for centuries by indigenous people for its medicinal properties and as a source of food.

Did you know that this Peruvian superfood is a rich source of vitamin C? In fact, it has up to 40 times more vitamin C than an orange. It is also very rich in antioxidants, which can help to protect against oxidative stress and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.

Camu camu is also thought to have numerous potential health benefits. It has anti-inflammatory qualities and may help reduce the risk of chronic diseases as well as support healthy skin and immunological function.

The tiny, red fruit can be consumed in various forms, f.e. as a fresh fruit, frozen pulp, or as a powder. In Peru’s jungle, it’s most common to drink it as a smoothie or juice. It can also be used as a natural food coloring in baked goods or other dishes.


8. Sacha Inchi

sacha inchi in star form

This superfood is also known as the Inca peanut and is known for being a rich source of protein, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. Omega-3s are important for brain function and typically found in fish and seafood, which is why sacha inchi is a great alternative for vegetarians and vegans.

Apart from that, it is believed to have many health benefits, such as supporting a healthy digestion, reducing inflammation and lowering the risk of chronic diseases.

Sacha inchi is usually consumed as a snack or as part of a nut mix or granola bar. It’s also used as an oil.


9. Aguaje

fruit that looks like avocado with spikes

Aguaje, also known as the “fruit of life” is a superfood from Peru’s Amazon jungle. It’s a rich source of antioxidants, vitamin C, and vitamin A contents (beta-carotene), which are important for healthy skin, eyes, and immune function. In fact, aguaje has more vitamin A than spinach and carrotsApart from that, it contains essential minerals and is high in fiber.

As the previous Peruvian superfoods, aguaje is also believed to have many potential health benefits, namely antibiotic, analgesic and anti-inflammatory functions. According to research, women consuming aguaje in their diet have a late menopause and fewer disorders.

Today, aguaje is mainly used in smoothies and juices but can also be consumed as a fresh fruit, frozen pulp, or as a powder.


10. Pichuberries (Aguaymanto)

orange aguyamanto on table

Aguaymanto, also known as goldenberry or pichuberry, is a small, orange fruit that is very popular in Peru. It is a rich source of antioxidants, vitamin C, is high in fiber and contains essential minerals.

The consumption of this superfood that mostly grows in clay soils provides important nutrients contributing to health. Its high content of antioxidants help delay cellular aging, improve cardiovascular performance and fight the negative effects of stress.

The pichuberry is mostly used in juices, jams, yogurt and also in liquor. It’s especially popular for deserts.


Peruvian Superfoods  – There’s Something for Everyone!

Peru is home to a variety of superfoods that have already been consumed back in the day by the Inca people for their unique flavors and many health benefits. The ones listed above are just some of the large varieties that originate from Peru and have gained popularity internationally.

These superfoods from Peru are believed to provide numerous potential health benefits and are rich in nutrients, including antioxidants, protein, fiber and essential vitamins and minerals.

Incorporating them into your diet can be an easy and delicious way to make sure your body gets what it needs. Apart from the Peruvian superfoods, there is a lot of delicious Peruvian food you must try when visiting. Enjoy your trip and enjoy your meal!

  • 12 September, 2023 at 12:46 pm

    Thanks for this great overview! I am a huge fan of camu camu. Started taking this supplement since January and I haven’t gotten sick once! I always mix it with my protein powder and spirulina (another great superfood btw). Tastes good and does what it should – keep me healthy!

    • 12 September, 2023 at 6:58 pm

      Hey Isaac! Camu camu is also one of my favourite superfood! You’re absolutely right, Spirulina is another incredible one. Just like Moringa, have you heard of that one before?

      Thanks for your comment and all the best for you!

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