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The Amazon rainforest is home to dozens of unique foods, some of which are quickly gaining popularity in the United States and elsewhere.
One such tropical plant is cupuaçu, a tree that produces a rich, delicious fruit.
This article tells you all you need to know about cupuaçu, including its benefits and various uses.
What is cupuaçu?
Cupuaçu is commonly used in desserts or pressed into a juice. In addition, its seeds are pressed to extract a nutrient-rich fat that’s used as a cooking oil or beauty treatment (1).
Cupuaçu is related to cacao. Its fruit has a fleshy, white pulp with a chocolatey, fruity flavor and is popular throughout Brazil.
What’s more, its seeds produce a rich fat used in cooking and cosmetic products.
Potential benefits of cupuaçu
Cupuaçu and products made from it are becoming more commonplace in Western countries. The fruit and its butter are prized for their versatility in both food and beauty products.
In fact, cupuaçu may have a number of benefits.
May support healthy skin
Cupuaçu butter is rich in healthy fats and serves as an excellent emollient that may help restore your skin’s natural moisture barrier.
Due to its low melting point, cupuaçu butter softens when applied to the skin, allowing for quick absorption.
Moreover, its high antioxidant content may protect your skin from harmful compounds, such as ultraviolet (UV) radiation, environmental pollutants, and cigarette smoke (
Keep in mind that you may tolerate cupuaçu butter differently depending on your skin type. For example, if you have oily skin, opt for using it only on drier body parts, such as your hands, feet, and elbows (
May keep your hair soft and healthy
Cupuaçu is commonly used as a hydrating ingredient in hair products.
Dry hair results from a lack of moisture in the hair shaft, which can lead to damaged, dull, or frizzy hair.
One study treated dyed hair samples with either cupuaçu butter, argan oil, or a traditional conditioner.
Both the cupuaçu and argan products significantly restored hair hydration and curbed protein loss — a common result of dying hair (8).
Rich in antioxidants and numerous nutrients
Cupuaçu is rich in antioxidants and nutrients that may benefit your health.
Cupuaçu butter is rich in fats that contribute to healthy hair and skin. What’s more, its fruit is a great source of antioxidants and fiber.
How to use it
Cupuaçu is available in many forms and can be used in food products as well as cosmetics.
Delicious alternative to chocolate
If you’re looking to try something new, cupuaçu is a great alternative to chocolate.
Since it comes from the cocoa family, it has many similar characteristics and can be processed like cocoa to make delicious treats. In fact, it’s sometimes added to energy bars, drinks, and other snacks (1).
Moreover, thanks to its naturally high fat content and slight sweetness, it can be processed into bars much like dark chocolate.
Cupuaçu has gained popularity as an antioxidant-rich food.
The raw fruit has a slightly acidic taste and chewy texture. However, it may be difficult to find outside of South America, as it’s not commonly exported — though some specialty stores may carry it.
You can use cupuaçu fruit or powder in both desserts and smoothies. In addition, the raw fruit is sometimes pressed into a juice.
Furthermore, you can use cupuaçu butter as a cooking fat.
Though cupuaçu supplements are available, no human studies support their use.
Though these results are promising, human research is needed, and the safety and side effects of cupuaçu supplements are unknown.
You should always consult a healthcare provider before adding any supplements to your routine.
Given its hydrating and moisturizing properties, cupuaçu is added to many cosmetics. These include:
- body butters
- skin lotions
- hair masks
- lip balms
Most cupuaçu products contain other ingredients, such as:
- shea butter
- argan oil
- other plant oils
They may likewise include:
- other ingredients
Be sure to read the label carefully if you’re sensitive to ingredients commonly found in hair and skin products.
Cupuaçu can be eaten raw and is commonly added to smoothies and desserts.
It’s also found in an array of cosmetic products, including body butters and soaps.
Furthermore, its powder is an alternative to cocoa powder.
The bottom line
Cupuaçu is a chocolaty, nutrient-dense fruit native to Brazil.
It’s widely used in skin and hair products due to its high fat content, which can help moisturize your skin and hair.
It’s also quite versatile as a food.
- eat the fruit raw
- use its butter as a cooking oil
- add cupuaçu powder to desserts and smoothies
Although cupuaçu is sold widely in South America, it can be hard to find elsewhere. Depending on your location, products like powder, butter, and cosmetics may be your best bet for trying this unique tropical food.