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Pequi has benefits for heart and vision

Pequi has benefits for heart and vision

Pequi is a typical fruit from the Brazilian Cerrado, widely used in cooking in the Northeast and Central-West regions and also in the North of Minas Gerais. In addition, popular medicine attributes a number of uses to pequi.

The name pequi means "spiny skin" and is due to the feature of its lump, which is full of thorns. It is a fruit the size of an apple with the green bark, but inside it there is a seed covered by a soft yellow flesh, which is the edible part of this food.

Main nutrients of pequi

Nutrients of pequi (100 g)
Calories203 kcal
Carbohydrates4.6 g
Proteins1.2 g
Total fats20 g
Saturated fats9.8 g
Fibers14 g
Vitamin A20 mg
Vitamin B10.03 mg
Vitamin B20.46 mg
Vitamin B30.38 mg
Vitamin C12 mg
Copper0.4 mg
Iron1.5 mg
Phosphorus0,006 mg
Magnesium0.005 mg
Potassium0.018 mg
Sodium2.1 mg

Almeida et al., 1998; Cooperjap

pequi has good amounts of vitamin A and C, which has important antioxidant properties for the body. In addition, vitamin C helps in the immune system and also potentiates the absorption of iron from foods of plant origin.

pequi is also rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, good fats that are also found in oilseeds and oils. These fatty acids can reduce blood LDL cholesterol levels, preventing fat plaques from accumulating and bringing health benefits to the heart. The main ones are oleic, palmitic, linoleic and stearic acids.

pequi also has good amounts of fibers and antioxidant compounds, such as phenolic compounds.

Benefits of pequi

pequi began to be but there are already some studies that provide initial evidence of some of its benefits:

Heart ally The mono-unsaturated fatty acids of pequi can help to improve the cholesterol profile in the body by reducing the LDL cholesterol, considered bad for health. LDL when oxidized can accumulate in fatty plaques in blood vessels, which can lead to long-term clogging, which can lead to various cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack and stroke. In addition, because it is rich in antioxidant nutrients vitamins A and C), it reduces the chances that LDL cholesterol will oxidize, which further protects the heart.

Pequi still in shell - Photo: Getty Images

Finally, the combination of vitamins and pequi minerals benefits the blood pressure, bringing a balance in the retention of liquids. The presence of potassium, in particular, also helps relax blood vessels, which has a positive effect on blood pressure, a factor that assists in heart health, since it does not end up being overloaded by hypertension.

The biologist César Koppe Grisolia, from the Institute of Biological Sciences of the University of Brasília (UnB) conducted two studies to prove the cardiovascular benefits of pequi. The first was done in mice and the second in 126 marathoners who took the capsule with the fruit oil. After a battery of tests, it was proven that those who took the medication had less cellular damage than those who did not.

Vision protection

pequi is a good source of vitamin A because it is rich in carotenoids, substances which are precursors of this nutrient. They act as antioxidant mainly in the eyes, preventing the macular degeneration and cataract that are often caused by free radicals. The carotenoids present in this food are carotene, lycopene cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin, lutein and neoxanthin. Among them, lutein is the compound that most acts on the structures of the eyes. Cancer Prevention

Studies show that a diet rich in antioxidant foods, such as pequi, can prevent many types of cancer. This is because they fight free radicals, compounds that lead to processes of degeneration of body tissues, and cause mutations that can lead to cancer. Fighting against premature aging

Free radicals are also responsible for aging of the skin, so consuming foods rich in antioxidants, such as pequi, is beneficial in preventing premature aging and improving skin elasticity. Reducing joint damage in athletes

The anti-inflammatory properties of pequi are allied with athletes. In a study in which athletes were submitted to a diet with high amounts of pequi, there was a reduction in inflammation in the joints and in the musculature, something that occurs commonly after prolonged or intense training. Amount recommended

There are no studies estimating a recommended amount of pequi per day. However, as it is a caloric food, experts indicate consumption in moderation.

Contraindications of pequi

pequi has no contraindications. However, because of its high caloric value, especially of pequi oil, the ideal is that people who are overweight or who want to lose weight should consume it in moderation.

Risks of excess consumption

Due to the large amount of calories in the pulp and in pequi oil, too much consumption can lead to weight gain.

How to consume

The pequi has two consumable parts: the pulp that surrounds its shell and the chestnut inside its core. pulp should be consumed with the hands, using the teeth to scrape only the yellowish part. When this pulp begins to become whitish, it begins to reveal the spines and requires greater care.

To consume the chestnut, it is necessary to let the core of the pequi dry for a couple of days and then to roast it, so it is possible to access it . But it is much less used in recipes, even though it has excellent health properties.

The pequi pulp is widely used in salt preparations and in various forms: cooked, rice, chicken, pasta, fish, with meat and in milk.

Recipes with pequi

Chicken with pequi - Photo: Getty Images

pequi is more used in salty preparations than sweets. It is also used to make sweets and liqueurs. Here are some recipes with pequi:

Brown rice with pequi

Chicken with pequi

Juice of pequi

Where to find

The pequi is much more common in the Brazilian Cerrado, in the Midwest , Northeast and in the North of Minas Gerais. Therefore, it is much easier to find it in these regions, but it can also be bought in more specialized markets in other regions of Brazil.

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