Here are some of our favourite Brazilian medicinal foods:
1. Cupuacu (pictured)
This tropical fruit is found on rainforest trees and has a juicy taste, similar to a pear and a banana. Being a strong antioxidant, this fruit contains many beneficial polyphenols as well as vitamins A and C. The superfood also contains essential fatty acids, amino acids, phosphorus, fibre and vitamins B1, B2, and B3.
This plant is one that the athletes may well be eating in the run up to the games as it’s known for it’s natural energising and fat-burning qualities. In fact, guarana has over twice the amount of caffeine than coffee, gram for gram. As athletes often use caffeine containing sports drinks or supplements, they may well choose to go for the natural option of guarana instead.
Now well known in healthy cafes across the world, the Acai berry is a small reddish-purple fruit, native to Central and South America. Extremely rich in antioxidants, it is said to promote weight loss and is certainly considered a key part of any healthy Brazilian diet. In fact this fruit has the highest Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity value of all fruits and vegetables - and contains 10 to 30 times more anthocyanin (a type of antioxidant) than red wine.
This superfood has been popping up in shakes, food supplements and new health food products much more over the last couple of years. The reason it’s so good? Camu-camu contains high levels of ellagic acid - linked to boost the immune system and potentially have anti-cancer effects. It is also packed with vitamin C and lutein (an antioxidant which promotes healthy eyes amongst other things). As the berry has a naturally tart flavour, it’s rarely consumed as a fruit and instead is added as a powder to other foods or taken as a supplement.
Written by Ruth Tongue