Inca berries are sometimes called the South American goji berries. These highly nutritious berries fit well into this era, in which more and more people are becoming aware of healthy food. Superfoods, or extremely healthy natural foods that also have a health-promoting effect, fit in with this trend. Inca berries are an increasingly popular member of this food group because they are not only very healthy but also very tasty.
Origin Inca berries
Inca berries, also called Inca berries or golden berries, are the berries of the Physalis pruviana , an annual plant from the nightshade family up to 2 m high. The Inca berries originally come from the high plains of the Andes mountains where they occur in Ecuador, Colombia and Peru. In this area the plant was and is never grown commercially on a large scale.
At the end of the 18th century, Inca berries were introduced to the Cape of Good Hope by colonists. There, the berries quickly became a (commercial) success because they are easy to grow. The berries soon made their appearance in other British colonies. They were planted in Australia, New Zealand and on several other Pacific Islands. South Africa is currently the largest producer of Inca berries in the world, where the berries are used for jam, or are pickled and dried. to be subsequently exported.
The Inca berry
The Inca berry is related to several other plants native to South America, such as the tomato, potato and eggplant. This comprehensive family is also called the nightshade family. The berries are yellow or orange in color and about 1.5 to 2 cm in diameter. The fruit itself is surrounded by brownish colored bracts that give the fresh berries a decorative appearance.
The nutritional value of Inca berries is extremely high. The berries are full of daily vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin B1, B2, B6 and B12 and vitamin C. They also contain thiamin, important for carbohydrate metabolism, phosphorus and calcium for strong bones. Vitamin P or bioflavonoids are also present in high levels. Bioflavonoids have a strong anti-inflammatory and antiviral effect. The Inca berries are also rich in proteins, the most important building blocks of the body.
Nutritional value of dried inca berries per 100 g:
- Dietary fiber 22.2 g
- Energy value Kcal 397
- Fats 8.4 g
- Carbohydrates 62.5 g
- Proteins 6.8 g
Inca berries effects on health
Inca berries were traditionally used as a healthy natural medicine. The berries are especially full of antioxidants. Antioxidants are substances that are able to scavenge free radicals formed in the cells. In this way, antioxidants can prevent DNA damage and indirectly have a preventive effect against aging of the body cells and the development of tumors. Inca berries were originally used against a wide range of diseases and conditions, such as hepatitis, asthma, malaria, dermatitis and rheumatism. Modern scientific studies have shown that in addition to antioxidants, Inca berries contain many more health-promoting substances, such as polyphenols and carotenoids. These substances have anti-inflammatory effects and therefore have a positive effect on asthma and allergies and they are important in the prevention of cardiovascular disease. Another substance that occurs in high doses in Inca berries is pectin. Pectin is a polysaccharide or a multiple sugar molecule that has a strong supporting and stimulating influence on the immune system. Polysaccharides can also prevent mutations in cellular DNA, which would protect against cancer. The natural support of the immune system provided by pectin gives the body a cheerful and energetic feeling. Last but not least, Inca berries also have a healthy effect on intestinal function. The berries have a very mild laxative effect (so be careful when eating large amounts of dried berries). This can be positive for sluggish intestines.
Side effects of inca berries
As far as is known, there are no harmful side effects associated with the use of inca berries. Consumption of large quantities may lead to mild diarrhea.
Buy Inca berries
Inca berries are becoming increasingly popular. Most berries you encounter in Dutch stores come from Turkey, where they are very popular. If you want to be sure that the berries have been grown in a responsible manner, Inca berries from South Africa are preferable to those from Turkey. It is best to buy them from a health food store that can guarantee that they have been grown organically. A reliable online store, for example, is Terrasana.
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