4 South American superfoods you need to know about

South America is a continent rich in natural resources. It has plentiful fresh water and fisheries, vast mineral wealth and diverse agricultural products. Many farmers in South America grow foods that cannot be found anywhere else, and some of these foods happen to be superfoods. These superfoods are rich in essential nutrients and phytochemicals that offer considerable health benefits. And because these foods are what nutritionists call “nutritional powerhouses,” they can do wonders for your body. [1]

So, if you’re looking for something new to upgrade your diet with, here are four unique superfoods from South America that could give you the nutritional boost you need:

Four South American superfoods to add to your diet

From coffee and whole grains to antioxidant-rich fruits and nutty seeds, the fertile soils of South America produce them all. And these are the type of foods you need in your diet.

Whole grains are indispensable because they’re excellent sources of dietary fiber. Fruits, on the other hand, make wonderfully healthy desserts. There are also no better or healthier sources of antioxidants and vitamin C than fresh fruits.

Seeds, small as they are, can contribute a lot to your diet, if you’ll give them a chance. Although some seeds are known by other names in the culinary world (e.g., walnuts, cocoa bean and quinoa), this doesn’t take away from the fact that they’re as nutrient-dense as most foods twice or even thrice their size. [2]

Superfoods that come from South America include quinoa, acai berries, camu camu and cacao. Here’s why these foods are good for your health:

Quinoa

Quinoa is an ancient superfood that once graced the plates of the Incas, who dubbed it their “mother grain.” For hundreds of years, this crop has been cultivated in the Andes Mountains, where it remains the staple food of the locals. While it is popularly classified as a whole grain, quinoa is a “pseudocereal,” and what we actually eat are the tiny edible seeds of the quinoa plant scientifically known as Chenopodium quinoa. [3]

Quinoa has become one of the most celebrated health foods of modern times because it is naturally gluten-free and a great substitute for rice. With a low glycemic index (GI) of 53, quinoa isn’t likely to cause a dramatic spike in your blood sugar levels. Add to that the fact that it’s incredibly packed with important macro- and micronutrients and you have one of the best gluten-free foods to complement a healthy and sensible weight loss plan. [4][5]

In terms of macronutrients, quinoa is high in fiber and protein, both of which promote satiety. This means that eating quinoa can keep you feeling full for longer. Quinoa also contains a decent amount of healthy fats, such as oleic acid (omega-9) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3). These nutrients are not only good for your heart, but according to research, they also don’t get easily destroyed even if you boil, simmer or steam quinoa. [6]

According to the Department of Agriculture (USDA), a cup of cooked quinoa can give you the following: [7]

  • Calories, 222
  • Carbohydrates, 39 grams (g)
  • Protein, 8 g
  • Healthy fats, 6 g
  • Dietary fiber, 5 g
  • Sugar, 1 g

Besides these macronutrients, you can get plenty of essential micronutrients from quinoa. These include B vitamins, vitamin E, iron, copper, potassium, phosphorus, manganese and magnesium. You can also find all nine essential amino acids – the ones your body can’t produce on its own – in quinoa, making it one of the few plant-based complete proteins in existence. What’s more, quinoa contains powerful antioxidants like quercetin and kaempferol, both of which can protect your cells from damaging free radicals. [8]

Thanks to its impressive nutrition profile, quinoa offers the following health benefits:*

  • Supports sensible weight management plans
  • Promotes healthy cardiovascular function
  • Supports healthy digestion
  • Promotes a healthy metabolism
  • Supports strong and healthy bones

Acai Berries

Aacai berries have a lot in common with quinoa. Both are nutrient-dense, come from South America, are labeled as superfoods and are known for being things they – botanically speaking – are not. Despite the name, acai berries are not real berries. They are actually drupes, or stone fruits, meaning they’re made of an outer fleshy part that surrounds a single pit with a seed inside. [9]

Acai palm trees, from which acai berries are harvested, grow abundantly in the Amazon rainforest. Locals first mash these tough, dark purple fruits into a paste before eating them. But because they have a very short shelf life when fresh, acai berries are often exported as freeze-dried powder, frozen fruit puree or pressed juice. [10]

In terms of taste, acai berries are described as a cross between blackberries and unsweetened chocolate. And like them, acai berries are rich in anthocyanins that give them their dark purple hue. But that’s not all anthocyanins are known for. According to studies, these plant pigments also double as potent antioxidants that protect cells and DNA from oxidative damage and promote healthy immune function. [11]

According to the USDA, a teaspoon (3 g) of acai berry powder can provide the following nutrients:

  • Calories, 20
  • Total fat, 1.5 g
  • Carbohydrates, 1 g
  • Fiber, 1 g
  • Calcium, 6 mg

As shown in its nutrition profile, acai berries are rich in fiber and healthy fats, which promote good heart health by maintaining healthy cholesterol levels already within the normal range. And while they contain quite negligible amounts of protein, acai berries are home to 19 different amino acids. They also provide more antioxidants than other commonly eaten berries, along with trace minerals like chromium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. [12]

Because of their abundance of essential nutrients and phytonutrients, acai berries offer the following health benefits:*

  • Support a healthy immune system
  • Promote healthy digestive function
  • Support healthy cardiovascular function
  • Help maintain optimal cognitive function
  • Promote healthy, glowing skin

Camu Camu

Another South American berry – this time, a real botanical one – that you should consider including in your diet is camu camu. Also native to the Amazon rainforest, this sour berry is widely known as one of the most concentrated natural food sources of vitamin C. This is an essential nutrient that promotes healthy collagen production, acts as an antioxidant and plays an important role in maintaining optimal immune function. [13][14]

Camu camu grows from a low-growing shrub and is described as a red- or purple-colored cherry-like fruit. Like tart cranberries, camu camu’s taste is too acidic to be enjoyed on its own; hence, it works better as an ingredient to be added ito blended juices, smoothies and other kinds of food. And because it’s a great source of vitamin C, camu camu is used just as often as a supplement as it is as an ingredient in skincare products.

Like quinoa and acai berries, what makes camu camu deserving of its superfood mantle is its abundance of essential nutrients, as well as active plant compounds called polyphenols that support healthy gut, heart and immune system to combat external threats. The antioxidants in camu camu can also help your body fight oxidative stress, so you can maintain the health of your eyes, skin and other organs. [15]

Here’s what you can get from a 100-g serving of camu camu powder:

  • Protein, 0.4 g
  • Vitamin C, 2,145 mg
  • Manganese, 2.1 mg
  • Copper, 1.2 mg
  • Calcium, 15.7 mg
  • Potassium, 83.8 mg
  • Iron, 0.5 mg
  • Magnesium, 12.4 mg
  • Zinc, 0.4 mg
  • Carotenoids, 355 micrograms (mcg)

You can enjoy the benefits of these nutrients, plus a whole lot more by adding just a teaspoon of camu camu powder to your favorite smoothies, sauces, salads and desserts. Here’s what this superfood can do for you:*

  • Support healthy liver function
  • Promote healthy digestion
  • Uplift and elevate your mood
  • Support a healthy immune system
  • Support healthy, glowing skin
  • Promote healthy cardiovascular function
  • Support healthy vision

Cacao Nibs

Cacao nibs are small pieces of crushed cocoa beans, which are harvested from the small evergreen tree known as Theobroma cacao. This tree is native to Central and South America and is widely known for producing the raw materials for chocolate. Although cocoa beans are referred to as beans, they are actually seeds that, when processed, can be turned into cocoa and chocolate products. [16]

But unlike chocolate products, cacao nibs are naturally low in sugar and rich in essential nutrients as well as phytonutrients. The raw cacao used to make cacao nibs is untreated and unprocessed, so you can be sure that cacao nibs contain all the nutrients found in cocoa beans that you can rarely find in chocolate bars and other processed cocoa products. [17]

Like the other South American superfoods in this article, cacao nibs are rich in phytonutrients with health-promoting properties. For instance, researchers have found that cacao nibs contain the highest flavonoid content of any food on the planet. These polyphenolic compounds are considered by experts to be the most potent antioxidants in the human diet. [18][19]

Here are some other nutrients you can find in cacao nibs:

  • Calories, 175 (per 1-ounce serving)
  • Protein, 3 g
  • Fat, 15 g
  • Dietary fiber, 5 g
  • Sugar, 1 g
  • Iron, 6% of the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI)
  • Magnesium, 16% of the RDI
  • Phosphorus, 9% of the RDI
  • Zinc, 6% of the RDI
  • Manganese, 27% of the RDI
  • Copper, 25% of the RDI

Cacao nibs also contain modest amounts of essential vitamins, such as B vitamins and vitamins E and K. B vitamins are important for overall health, as well as the maintenance of healthy energy levels and the proper functioning of your nervous system. Vitamin E, meanwhile, also acts as an antioxidant, while vitamin K is important for supporting strong and healthy bones. [20][21][22][23]

Here’s what you can expect cacao nibs to do for your health:*

  • Support healthy immune function
  • Promote optimal cardiovascular health
  • Support healthy cognitive function
  • Promote good digestive health
  • Help uplift your mood
  • Maintain healthy, glowing skin

Where to get these four amazing superfoods

Truly clean, organic products are hard to find these days, especially when labels can easily be slapped on products without much regulation. But we at the Health Ranger Store understand the importance of good nutrition, and we believe that high-quality nutrients can only be derived from clean, high-quality and truly nutritious food products. That’s why we’re offering four superfoods from South America that are clean, nutrient-dense and sourced from trusted sources.

Health Ranger Select Organic Red Quinoa is a nutritional powerhouse that offers a wide variety of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Unlike most grains, it contains all nine essential amino acids, making it the perfect protein source for vegans, vegetarians and meat eaters alike.

Compared to other quinoa varieties, red quinoa has a stronger flavor and a firmer, crunchier texture. It also has more dietary fiber, calcium and potassium than white quinoa. Our premium red quinoa is highly versatile and can be mixed with almost anything or added directly to salads, casseroles, burrito bowls, pastas and more.

Health Ranger Select Organic Red Quinoa is vegan, non-GMO, non-China and certified Kosher and organic. It is also extensively lab tested for glyphosate, heavy metals and microbiology.

Health Ranger Select Freeze-Dried Organic Acai Powder is a dark purple powder that’s rich in antioxidants and important nutrients, such as dietary fiber, protein, iron, healthy fats and electrolytes. It is made by freeze drying organic acai puree and is completely water-soluble, making it convenient and easy to add to smoothies, shakes, fruit juices and other beverages.

Enrich your diet with our delicious and nutritious Health Ranger Select Freeze-Dried Organic Acai Powder. Our premium freeze-dried organic acai powder is vegan, non-GMO, non-China and certified Kosher and organic. It also contains no gluten and is lab tested for glyphosate, heavy metals and microbiology. 

Groovy Bee Organic Camu Camu Powder is derived from the fresh berries of the camu camu plant that grows in the rich soils of Peru. A rich source of natural flavonoids, vitamin C, anthocyanins and other powerful antioxidants, this premium powder can support your body’s natural immune defenses and promote healthy eyes, skin and digestion.

Groovy Bee Organic Camu Camu Powder has a slightly tangy flavor that works well with smoothies, homemade ice creams and other snacks and beverages. It is vegan, non-GMO, non-China and certified organic and Kosher. It contains no artificial flavors, sweeteners or fillers and is lab tested for glyphosate, heavy metals and microbiology.

Imported from trusted vendors and growers in Peru, Groovy Bee Organic Raw Cacao Nibs are some of the cleanest and purest cacao nibs you will find on the market today. You can trust that our raw cacao nibs contain no added sugars, sweeteners, emulsifiers, thickeners, other additives and preservatives. And because our cacao nibs come from unprocessed cacao, you can be sure that they contain all the nutrients and powerful phytonutrients responsible for the health benefits of cocoa.

Groovy Bee Organic Raw Cacao Nibs are vegan, non-China, non-GMO and certified organic and Kosher. They are also lab tested for glyphosate, heavy metals and microbiology.

Boost your nutrient intake with these four South American superfoods and enjoy the health-promoting properties of their phytonutrient content!

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose any diseases.

Do you know of other superfoods that should be on this list? Share them in the comments below.

 

References

[1] https://www.nationalgeographic.org

[2] https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk

[3] https://www.britannica.com

[4] https://www.everydayhealth.com

[5] https://www.healthline.com

[6] https://www.livescience.com

[7] https://www.medicalnewstoday.com

[8] https://www.hsph.harvard.edu

[9] https://www.healthline.com

[10] https://www.betternutrition.com

[11] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

[12] https://www.medicalnewstoday.com

[13] https://www.health.com

[14] https://ods.od.nih.gov

[15] https://www.healthline.com

[16] https://www.britannica.com

[17] https://www.healthline.com

[18] https://realfoodrn.com/

[19] https://www.hindawi.com

[20] https://www.nutritionadvance.com/

[21] https://www.healthline.com/

[22] https://ods.od.nih.gov/

[23] https://ods.od.nih.gov/

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