Needing an average annual rainfall of between 1.9 and 3.0 metres Cupuacu is a small to medium tree in the rainforest canopy which belongs to the Cocoa family. It yields delicious melon-sized fruit that have a creamy white pulp that tastes like a combination of chocolate, bananas, pear, passion fruit and pineapple. Inside there are about 35 hazelnut-sized seeds.
Cupuacu fruit has been a primary food source in the rainforest for both indigenous peoples and animals.It is pollinated mainly by ants and aphids, it only flowers in the evening (the flowers are closed by morning)and birds, bats, and monkeys from the Amazon basin are the most important Cupuacu seed dispersers.
Common Name: Cupuacu
Botanical Name: Theobroma grandiflorum
Other Names: Food of the Gods
Growing area: Native to Amazon rainforest drainage basin in northern parts of Brazil
Nutrients & Applications:
The pulp and seeds of Cupuacu contain polyphenols called theograndins, Type 1 has, incredibly potent antioxidant properties discovered nowhere else on earth. There are nine other powerful antioxidants, including vitamins A and C, making Cupuacua a full spectrum antioxidant. Four of the nine other antioxidants are glucuronides, which act by binding to toxins that are trapped in the liver helping to flush them from the body. Another antioxidant is epicatechin, which acts like insulin, which helps to lower your blood sugar,even though Cupuacu is creamy and sweet to eat.Cupuacu also contains phytonutrients like vitamins B1, B2, B3, five essential fatty acids including omega 3, amino acids, and minerals like phosphorus, calcium, selenium, iron, potassium.
Traditionally, Cupuacu is used to treat skin problems, as a digestive aid, painkiller and to boost energy. The seeds were crushed by the Tikuna tribes and used as a cure for abdominal pain. In remote times indigenous peoples would trade the seeds along the Rio Negro and Upper Orinoco river, the shamans would bless the seeds and the juice would be drunk by newlyweds who wanted a child, or by women to ease childbirth and labour pains.
For thousands of years South Americans have used Cupuaçu for energy because it contains theacrines which produce similar mood and energy enhancing effects without the negative effects of caffeine found in its relative, Cocoa. Cupuaçu also contains quercetin, which can dramatically increase energy and endurance in active, healthy adults.Another reason Cupuaçu boosts energy is because it’s full of plant based saturated fatty acids which the body can pack together very tightly allowing it to store a lot of energy.
Cupuacu’s primary health benefits are stimulating the immune system thus supporting the body’s ability to prevent and fight disease, and providing gastrointestinal and cardiovascular support.
The fruit’s pulp is made into juice, smoothies, jams, desserts, tarts and ice cream or simply eaten fresh for breakfast.Nowadays seeds are pressed to release the oil to make Cupuacu butter from which a delicious caffeine free alternative to chocolate called Cupualate is made. Cupuacu butter is also used for cosmetic formulations which help keep the skin soft and elastic and create an effective barrier that stops moisture loss. It has an anti-inflammatory effect on the skin and has been used to help treat conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. Because of its low melting point Cupuacu butter is also used as a base for suppositories.