Thought you were all caught up on the latest superfruits? Guess again.
Hailing from Peru is the nutrient-rich fruit lucuma, and it looks vaguely like an avocado — but don't be fooled. Cut it open, and you'll be greeted by soft yellow flesh, one that might remind you of dry egg yolk. It might sound repulsive, but eat it, and your taste buds (and body) will thank you.
"Lucuma has a uniquely sweet, fragrant and subtly maple-like taste," Elissa Goodman, holistic nutritionist and lifestyle cleanse expert, tells SheKnows.
"Some people say that lucuma has a taste similar to that of a sweet potato, and I have to say, I agree with them," she continues. "I have made delicious sweet potato brownies in the past, and I know lucuma would go flawlessly in a sweet potato dessert."
This Peruvian fruit not only tastes great, but it's also packed with iron (B2 and B1), zinc, vitamin B3, calcium and protein. It's also an excellent source of carbohydrates, fiber and minerals according to Goodman.
"It boasts… plentiful concentrations of beta-carotene, which makes lucuma a powerful immune system booster," she says. "It is also said to reduce inflammation, lower blood sugar and even protect against some forms of cancer."
According to a 2010 study in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, lucuma oil could also aid in healing wounds, helping to promote skin regeneration. In addition, according to a 2009 study in the Journal of Medicinal Food, lucuma may help support normal blood sugar levels and could decrease side effects associated with hypertension.
“Its low sugar content even makes it a healthy alternative to sugar for people who have diabetes,” Goodman says, “and it is a great sweetener for women who are breastfeeding — as long as they take the correct dosage.”
Using lucuma as a sugar substitute in smoothies, baked goods or coffee is a great way to utilize the fruit, Goodman says.
According to VeryWell, when lucuma is used as a sugar substitute, the fruit is dried at a low temperature and then ground into a powder.
"You can whip up a quick protein shake with some almond milk and a scoop of PlantFusion protein powder and get a healthy serving of lucuma after a workout," Goodman adds.
Goodman also recommends using lucuma in baby food if moms are looking for a healthy way to sweeten otherwise bland baby food.
"Not only will the baby eat up every last bite because of how delicious it tastes, but all of the incredible vitamins and minerals are great for little growing bodies," she says. "As always, consult a doctor before giving your little one any food for the first time."
Typically and more widely available as a powder, lucuma is sold at most health food stores and sites, including Amazon and Whole Foods, which sell Navitas Organics Lucuma Powder ($15.18 at Amazon) — a product Goodman recommends.
"It is not so much about where you get lucuma, [it's] more so that you are getting high-quality lucuma without any fillers in it. To be sure you are getting the best kind, read the ingredients to ensure that the only one included is certified organic lucuma powder," she advises.
Ready to give it a taste? Goodman uses lucuma as a replacement for sugar in her aquafabulous chocolate mousse recipe.
"It gives it the perfect amount of sweetness," she raves. "It is a dessert you can feel great about eating since it uses aquafaba, which is chickpea juice, as an egg replacer, and the lucuma has so many health benefits."