If you've never heard of buffaloberries, you're certainly not alone. Surprisingly, though, the tart, little fruit is native to North America and has long been a staple of Native American diets. It's a hearty berry that grows well in arid and unforgiving climates — like parts of North and South Dakota and the western U.S.
So, what makes the fruit so special? According to a study published in the Journal of Food Science, buffaloberries are a stellar source of cancer-fighting and heart-protective lycopene, phenolic antioxidants and other carotenoids that are known to slow cellular aging. Tomatoes, which are well known for their high lycopene content, don't even come close to the lycopene content of buffaloberries.
Clearly, the buffaloberry is a nutritionist's dream come true, but the berry's flavor is to thank for its sudden popularity. Unlike similarly tart cranberries, buffaloberries have a naturally high sugar content, so they're tasty in both fresh and dried forms. Their high acidity, meanwhile, makes them an ideal ingredient for unique wine blends.
In fact, wineries across the U.S. have started playing with heart-healthy buffaloberry blends. Prairie Berry Winery in South Dakota claims to have started the trend with its award-winning Buffaloberry Fusion, which they describe as semi-dry and similar to a very light Sauvignon Blanc. Buffaloberry wine blends tend to be fruity, light and perfectly paired with other healthy foods, like salads and grilled fish.
This trend is exciting for a couple of reasons. First of all, I'm totally on board with any superfood that can go directly in my alcoholic beverage, and I don't think kale is going to make the cut any time soon. Go home kale — no one likes you anyway. I'm also excited about the financial boost struggling communities may receive when they develop buffaloberry crops for commercial production. Since buffaloberries grow best in arid and neglected climates, they may bring financial vitality to communities that have few natural resources.
Happy drinking! And remember, it's for your health.
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