As if there weren’t enough superfood berries around – here’s another one to add to your list. Incan berries, otherwise known as physalis or goldenberries - are an incredibly healthy treat packed with protein, antioxidants and vitamins. Dried or fresh, both are ideal healthy gym snacks well worth a munch.
WHAT’S THEIR HISTORY?
Incan berries are native to the Amazonian regions of South America but are now grown all over the world. The smooth yellow berry is exceptionally sweet on the outside with zingy seeds inside giving it a bittersweet taste with plenty of crunch! Unlike other berries, the health benefits of Incan berries have only recently been realised. In fact, they are still quite rare in the UK but are gaining recognition fast.
WHERE CAN I FIND THEM?
Supermarkets are catching on quick but grab them while you can. Waitrose and Ocado both currently stock fresh ones. Online wholefood stores and Amazon frequently stock dried berries.
They are also extremely easy to grow (some say easier than tomatoes) if you would like your own personal supply. Buy seeds now ready to sow in the spring.
WHY ARE THEY A ‘SUPERFOOD’?
- Their unique antioxidants include caratenoids and polyphenols which give them potent anti-inflammatory and other healing properties. They have been used to treat arthritis, diabetes, hypertension and even cancer.
- Incan berries contain a rare compound called ‘withanolides’ which some consider to have anti-carcinogenic benefits.
- They have a lower sugar content than most fruit. Being very low in fructose makes them a tasty source of nutrition for those on a weight loss or diabetic diet.
- At 16%, they are surprisingly high in protein (6.4g per 100g), although goji berries have 12g. Meat in comparison has 20g.
- Thanks to all those tiny seeds they have the highest fibre levels of all dried fruit (19 per cent). Just one handful delivers 8g, which is over one quarter of the recommended daily amount. What a great addition to your muesli mix!
- The high pectin levels have the ability to regulate our blood sugar levels. It also boosts our immune system, balances cholesterol levels and provides anti-cancer properties.
HOW CAN I EAT THEM?
Eat dried Incan berries just like you’d eat any other dried fruit:
- As a snack on their own
- Mixed with nuts, seeds, chocolate chips or cacoa nibs to make your own trail mix
- Throw a handful into couscous or rice salads
- As a topping for yoghurt or fruit salad
- Use to bake muffins, flapjacks or fruit cake
- Their sweetness makes a good addition to curries and Moroccan dishes.
Fresh incan berries are delicious just as they are. Or for the particularly sweet-toothed, unwrap them and dip them into melted dark chocolate before leaving them to set in the fridge.