Peru: Ancient Superfoods for Vibrant Health

Apr 11, 2018 Food & Drink

Peru is already well-known as a tourist destination, and now it’s gaining a reputation on the superfood scene.

And for good reason – Peru is producing a range of nutrient-packed consumables with a difference. Here’s why you need to take a look at the planet’s hottest range of superfoods.

A natural history of production

Long before the term ‘superfood’ was coined, Peruvians were growing foods renowned for their health and life-giving benefits.

Thousands of years ago, the Incas combined their knowledge of food production with their county’s natural assets, producing foods that were natural and nutrient-dense.

Because of the quality of their food, the Incas had long and healthy lives, says Mario Vargas, Peru’s Trade Commissioner. Many of these foods are still produced today.

One of these is purple corn, which Vargas calls “The superfood of the ancient Andes”. It was discovered by the Incas a millennia ago, and now contemporary science is revealing why it has such powerful health benefits.

Purple corn

Purple corn

“The healing properties of purple corn reside in the massive amounts of two phytonutrients contained within the plant: anthocyanins and phenolic,” Vargas explains.

“Studies show that plants rich in these particular nutrients also contain the highest amount of antioxidants.”

Japan has already embraced the superfood benefits of purple corn, and Australia is set to be next.

Peru is ideally positioned for producing superfoods

With its location on the west coast of South America, Peru has everything from beaches to rainforest to the soaring Andes mountains, and 28 of the world’s 32 climates.

This includes 90 microclimates, Vargas says, meaning Peru has a huge capacity for agrobiodiversity.

”We can produce different products almost the whole year,” he says. “We know that Australians like asparagus very much, and this is one of the vegetables we can produce the whole year around.”

Unique superfoods

Asparagus and purple corn are just two of the superfood vegetables grown in Peru. Others include artichoke and capsicum; and root vegetables including sweet potato, yacon, mesquite, yuca and maca.

Perhaps best known are Peru’s superfood grains, such as quinoa, cacao, chia seeds and Brazil nuts, which are all recognised for their nutraceutical properties. Lesser known but equally beneficial grains include amaranth, cañihua, white giant corn and sacha inchi.

Cacao

Cacao

Originating from the Peruvian Amazon and grown exclusively in Peru, sacha inchi is known as the Inca peanut because of its importance during that empire. Its seeds are one of the best sources of omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids in the world.

Sacha Inchi

Sacha Inchi

Peru’s harvest also includes a bountiful range of superfruits, including exotic tropicals like soursop, pomegranate, mangos, avocados and passionfruit.

Unique to the region is the lucuma, a deep orange fruit rich in the antioxidant beta-carotene. Incan legend tells of an Andean goddess that refused to feel love, until a mythological being dressed as a beggar seduced her with a lucuma.

An offering from Peru’s virgin rainforest is the herbal medicine cat’s claw, which is used for its powerful anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties.

Muña, a herb grown high in the Andes, has more calcium and phosphorus than maca, making it ideal for maintaining healthy bones and teeth.

Moving from the mountains to the sea, the waters of Peru provide a plentiful harvest of nutritious seafood, including fish high in healthy oils like mackerel, tuna and trout, and protein-packed shellfish such as shrimp and scallops.

Quality products at a competitive price

In addition to offering such a wide range of unique superfoods, Peru’s point of difference is their ability to offer quality food at competitive prices, Vargas says.

He explains that Peru currently exports to 150 countries worldwide, and is looking to partner with Australia to manufacture their products using Australian food technology.

“Peru wants to offer its healthy and ancient food to the world.”

Producers of these products will be exhibiting at Stand H04 at Naturally Good 2018. Visit the stand to chat with the team and see how it these can be incorporated onto your shelves. Register to attend Naturally Good now.

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