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From the Amazon to the Andes, Peru has a number of different types of naturally-growing food products, which are super-high in nutrition and flavour. Health food stores back home are full of Amazonian products to cure all ailments and offer the next food fads, so why not give some of them a try on your Peru vacation for a fraction of the price?
Oca (Peruvian tubers)
Quinoa is one of the newer health food fads worldwide, due to it being the only vegetable-based protein that contains all 9 amino acids as well as a high amount of fibre. This native Peruvian grain has been a constant food source for thousands of years and revered by the Incas as their most important grain, to take their soldiers into combat. This has now, of course, become a staple for the vegan diet throughout the world due to its high protein content. While we use this superfood a lot back home, we generally only have one variety, whereas in Peru there are several different types, all delicious and are used in a number of different dishes such as soups, salads, breakfast cereals, drinks burgers, bread and biscuits to name but a few.
Amaranth, as we more commonly know this grain, is the smaller version of quinoa to look at, in fact, they do come from the same family of grains and is similar to quinoa in that it contains a high level of amino acids and fibre as well as being high in vitamin B, manganese and phosphorous. This grain was also revered by the Incas and used in ceremonies and offerings. Today it is used for bread and also for breadcrumbs to cover certain types of meats.
Andean Kiwicha plantation
This potato- like vegetable helps to regulate hormones in both men and women and has been used in the Andean region for thousands of years to help with menopause, infertility and even sex drive. More recently the root vegetable has been found to have energetic properties similar to caffeine yet stronger and should be taken over a period of weeks to feel the full effect.
Andean "ginseng"! (Maca)
4. Camu Camu
This incredible fruit is found in the Amazon region of Peru and Brazil and is used to cure many ailments including mouth ulcers and even cancer. Scientists have discovered that this fruit contains 60% more vitamin C than the average orange, as well as flavonoids, antioxidants and even protein, helping to boost the immune system. You can find this fruit in the jungle regions at the markets and it is commonly used in juices and ice creams in the region.
Aguaymanto or maybe more commonly known as the “Inca berry” and is loaded with vitamin A, B and E and is known to boost the immune system and the metabolism. Peruvians love this fruit which is native to the Andean region and looks similar to a tomato. You will see it as a decoration in the Andean fusion cuisine and is used both in desserts and main dishes.
6. Purple Potatoes.
This purple variety of the classic potato is full of antioxidants which do not allow the body to digest the carbs, only all of the other “goodness” and nutrients of a potato. You can only usually find them in organic markets back home and they are quite expensive. However, when you travel in Peru, they are widely available, so a must-try on your Peru vacation.
This toffee flavoured fruit is a popular flavour for ice cream and yoghurt in Peru. It is loaded with iron zinc, vitamin B3, protein and beta- carotene and is said to have anti-ageing properties and even improves cardiovascular strength. Look out for it in Peruvian markets during the summer months… its similar looking to an unripe mango!
8. Coca Leaf.
This cure-all for altitude symptoms is also a nutrient-packed leaf, offering a high vitamin c content and contains all of the vitamins from A to E as well as being high in zinc, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, fibre and phosphorous….. the real superfood out of this bunch of amazing foods.