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Lucuma is the fruit of the Pouteria lucuma tree native to South America.

It has a hard, green outer shell and soft, yellow flesh with a dry texture and sweet flavor that’s often likened to a mix of sweet potato and butterscotch (1).

Nicknamed the “gold of the Incas,” lucuma has been used as a traditional remedy in South America for centuries (2).

It’s most commonly found in powder supplement form and touted for its many potential health benefits.

What’s more, due to its sweet taste, it’s used as a healthier alternative to table sugar and other popular sweeteners.

Here are 6 surprising benefits of lucuma powder.

1. More nutritious than most sweeteners

Lucuma can be eaten raw but is most commonly found in a dried, powdered supplement form that’s often used as a natural sweetener.

One tablespoon (7.5 grams) of lucuma powder provides (3):

  • Calories: 30
  • Protein: 0 grams
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Carbs: 6 grams
  • Sugars: 1.5 grams
  • Fiber: 2 grams

Lucuma contains less sugar but more nutrients than table sugar. More specifically, it has about half the carbs and 75% less sugar than the same amount of table sugar (3).

Lucuma powder also offers a relatively good amount of both soluble and insoluble fiber, unlike most other common sweeteners, such as table sugar.

Insoluble fiber adds bulk to your stool and prevents constipation by helping food move smoothly through your gut (4).

Soluble fiber feeds your beneficial gut bacteria, which, in turn, produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) like acetate, propionate, and butyrate. These are then used as food by cells in your gut, keeping them healthy.

These short-chain fats also protect against inflammation and improve symptoms of gut disorders, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis (5, 6).

One tablespoon (7.5 grams) of lucuma powder also provides some calcium, iron, potassium, niacin, and vitamin C — though these amounts generally cover less than 1% of the Daily Value (DV). Still, it’s more nutritious than other popular sweeteners (2, 3).

Summary Lucuma powder is low in sugar yet relatively
rich in fiber. It also contains smaller amounts of other nutrients, including
calcium and iron.

2. Contains a variety of antioxidants

Lucuma contains a variety of antioxidants, which are powerful compounds that help protect your cells from damage caused by highly reactive molecules called free radicals.

Consuming a diet rich in antioxidants may help protect against health conditions like heart disease and certain cancers (7).

For instance, research shows that lucuma is particularly rich in polyphenols and carotenoids, two groups of antioxidants known for their anti-inflammatory, cancer-fighting, and heart-health-promoting properties (8, 9, 10).

It’s especially high in xanthophylls, a group of carotenoids responsible for lucuma’s yellow color that’s thought to promote eye health and good vision (8, 11).

Lucuma is also packed with vitamin C, a nutrient with antioxidant properties that plays many important roles in your body, such as supporting vision, a strong immune system, and heart health (12).

Additionally, the polyphenols in lucuma are thought to offer strong protection against chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease (13, 14).

However, research on the specific types of antioxidants in lucuma is limited, and more studies are needed to fully understand the potential antioxidant benefits of this fruit.

Summary Lucuma is rich in antioxidants, such as
carotenoids and polyphenols, which may offer protection against various
conditions, including diabetes and heart disease.

3. May benefit blood sugar control

Despite being rich in carbs, lucuma may offer some protection against type 2 diabetes.

In part, this may be because most of its carbs are complex. Carbs can be split into three categories (15):

  • Sugars.
    These are short-chain types of carbs found in many foods. Examples include
    glucose, fructose, and lactose. They’re quickly digested and can lead to
    spikes in your blood sugar levels.
  • Starches.
    These are longer chains of sugars that get broken down into sugars in your
    gut. They take longer to digest and are less likely to spike blood sugar
    levels drastically.
  • Fiber.
    This is a type of nondigestible carb that’s broken down and used as food
    by beneficial gut bacteria. It helps maintain stable blood sugar levels.

Sugars are considered simple carbs, while starches and fiber are thought of as complex. Complex carbs, such as the starches and fiber making up most of the carbs in lucuma, have been shown to promote healthy blood sugar levels (16).

What’s more, the soluble fiber in lucuma may protect against diabetes by improving insulin sensitivity and preventing blood sugar spikes after a meal or snack (17, 18).

Moreover, test-tube research shows that the blood-sugar-lowering mechanisms of lucuma may be comparable to those of certain antidiabetic drugs (13, 19).

It prevents the action of the alpha-glucosidase enzyme, which is responsible for breaking down complex carbs into simple sugars that tend to spike blood sugar levels (13).

Lucuma is often claimed to have a low glycemic index (GI), which means that it would raise blood sugar levels to a much lower extent than other sweeteners like pure sugar.

If true, this would be another reason why lucuma may benefit blood sugar control. However, no studies have confirmed lucuma’s low GI score. As with all sweeteners, it’s likely best consumed in moderation.

Overall, more research is needed on the potential beneficial effects of lucuma on blood sugar control.

Summary Lucuma is rich in complex
carbs and fiber and may reduce your body’s ability to absorb simple sugars.
This may help prevent blood sugar spikes and regulate blood sugar levels,
though research in this area is limited.

4. May promote heart health

Lucuma may offer some protection against heart disease, likely due to its polyphenol content.

Polyphenols are beneficial plant compounds thought to protect against high blood pressure and heart disease (14).

One test-tube study found that lucuma may prevent the action of the angiotensin I-converting enzyme (ACE), which is involved in regulating your blood pressure.

By doing so, lucuma may help lower blood pressure (13).

Though preliminary results seem promising, research is lacking, and more studies are needed to confirm these heart health benefits in humans.

Summary Lucuma contains heart-healthy polyphenols.
Its ability to act as an ACE-inhibitor may further promote heart health by
lowering your blood pressure. Still, more research is needed.

5. Can be used for baking or desserts

Lucuma powder can be used as a substitute for sugar in pies, cakes, and other desserts or baked goods.

Lucuma’s texture is comparable to granulated sugar, but its taste is more similar to that of brown sugar.

You can use a 1:2 ratio by volume to substitute brown sugar for lucuma. For instance, use 1 cup (120 grams) of lucuma for each 1/2 cup (200 grams) of brown sugar.

Still, you may need to experiment a little, as it may not work well for all recipes (20).

Lucuma is also a popular flavoring for dishes like ice cream and other desserts.

Plus, it can be added to yogurt, oatmeal, smoothies, and homemade nut milks to provide a hint of natural sweetness sure to please adults and children alike.

Summary Lucuma powder can be used as an alternative
to brown sugar to prepare pies, cakes, and other baked goods. It can also add
flavor to other foods, such as ice cream, oatmeal, and yogurt.

6. Easy to add to your diet

Fresh lucuma fruit may be difficult to find, but lucuma powder is widely available, both online and in health food stores.

You can easily give lucuma powder a try by sprinkling a little over muesli, oats, or cereals. Alternatively, add some to smoothies or use it instead of sugar in your dessert or baked good recipes.

While lucuma can be added to your diet in many ways, keep in mind that research on this supplement is limited, and its potential side effects are currently unknown.

Summary Lucuma powder can be found online or in
health food stores. It can be added to a variety of foods and drinks, such as
muesli, smoothies, or baked goods.

The bottom line

Lucuma is a fruit native to South America that’s most commonly found as a powdered supplement.

It may offer several health benefits, such as regulating blood sugar levels, improving heart health, and providing a powerful dose of beneficial antioxidants. Still, research is limited.

If you’re curious about this exotic fruit and powder, try replacing table sugar in your drinks or foods with a small quantity of this natural, healthy sweetener.