If you've never heard of it before, it's likely you'll see it mentioned a lot more soon. This small orange fruit is catching the attention of doctors and nutritionists as a super food with some exciting potential health properties. Here's a short guide to why the health professionals are getting interested.
Pequi fruit comes from the Pequi tree which grows in Brazil. Nearly every part of the tree can be used for food, medical or construction purposes. Pequi therefore has a very important role in Brazil's indigenous culture. Traditionally, rural Brazilians plant pequi trees round their village. As the seed takes a long time to germinate, harvesting has to be done sustainably with replacement trees carefully planted to keep the supply going. Pequi fruit has been used by Brazillians as a staple for years in food preparation and to flavor drinks, or simply eaten raw as a snack. Pequi oil, which is extracted from the fruit?s kernel, is also used as a cooking oil.
So what's exciting people about this fruit. Well not necessarily the taste. The fruit itself has a strong flavor which tends to divide opinion and is generally not favored by western palates. Instead what's got people paying attention is new research which suggests that the fruit and pequi oil have some significant health benefits. Pequi fruit is known to contain several antioxidants and the oil has been associated with anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, Pequi oil is full of monounsaturated fatty acids ? the same heart-healthy fat which is found in nuts and olive oil. Researchers think that these monounsaturated fats have an important role to play in lowering cholesterol and reducing blood pressure.
One recent study involving atheletes illustrates the promising results which are coming from this potential wonder fruit. A number of male and female atheletes with ages ranging from 15 - 67 were given supplements of pequi fruit oil daily for two weeks. The researchers found that taking this had an anti-inflammatory effect in the athletes and that both their blood pressure, total cholesterol and (the bad) low density lipoprotein cholesterol were lowered. The researchers theory is that the antioxidants in pequi fruit are responsible for the anti-inflammatory effects and that its monounsaturated fatty acids may explain the positive effects on the atheletes' cholesterol levels.
As well as the potential health benefits above, Pequi seems to be a natural and effective way to treat dry skin and eczema which is why it is starting to be included in skin and hair products as a moisturizer. The anti-inflammatory properties also seem as if they may help reduce skin inflammation naturally.
Pequi oil is not yet widely available on store shelves, but you are likely to hear more about it as both a supplement and an ingredient in beauty products.