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Borojo, Amazonian Fruit of Love

By on February 8, 2014

   The ever growing search for new, exotic fruits from all corners of the globe is challenging the monoculture of fruit homogeneity that confines consumers to a relatively predictable selection of fruits. One exciting newcomer in this expanding repertoire is a South American superfruit known as borojo (pronounced bo-ro-ho).  This small tropical tree, native to Colombia, Ecuador and Panama grows best in humid rainforests under shady conditions. The tree produces a large green fruit roughly 7-12 centimeters in diameter, similar to a large grapefruit or a small melon with a dense brown, fleshy pulp containing anywhere from 100-600 seeds. Although the tree is found in the wild, it is increasingly being cultivated in Colombia due to its use as a functional food.

            Not a new discovery, borojo fruit has been prized by the indigenous peoples of Colombia, Ecuador and Panama for centuries.  The pulp has been used as part of the daily diet in the form of sauces, drinks, jelly and in a more modern context in ice cream, desserts and as an exotic flavour. A traditional drink known as “Jugo del Amor” or “Juice of Love” is made by using the pulp of the fruit, pointing to its common usage as an aphrodisiac and a folk remedy for energy, vitality and enhanced libido. In a traditional context, indigenous cultures of Central America have used borojo to stabilize blood sugar levels, improve hypertension and as an overall daily health tonic.

            Nutritionally speaking, the fruit contains fibre, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, vitamin C, a range of B vitamins and amino acids such as lysine, tyrosine, leucine and valine. Although much research has yet to be conducted on this fruit, a recent independently commissioned study at the Center for Advanced Food Technology (CAFT) at Rutgers University discovered a novel phenolic antioxidant compound unique to borojo.  In addition to the unique polyphenol identified, the antioxidative capacity or ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) Score of borojo was calculated at a value of 5,400 per 100 grams, which although is no where near a 30:1 concentration of camu camu at 60,000 per 100 grams or a freeze dried acai berry powder at 50,000 ORAC per 100 grams, it still exceeds the humble blueberry, which roughly weighs in at 3,000 per 100 grams.

            Whether it is green tea, cacao, acai berries, camu camu berries, maqui berries or red wine, polyphenols have been shown to positively influence health in a variety of ways. Polyphenolic antioxidants protect us from the onslaught of free radical damage that occurs daily to our cells, which inevitably accelerates the aging process. Research has shown that a diet rich in polyphenols offers benefits that go beyond the modulation of oxidative stress by demonstrating a potentially preventative role in the progression of degenerative diseases such as cardiovascular issues, cancers and osteoporosis, as well as, a decrease in inflammatory processes and blood sugar control.

            Borojo has a very unique combination of flavours that gives it a slightly tart taste with notes of citrus, plum and vanilla. Seek 100% pure Borojo powder with no added fillers, flavours or sweeteners. Add 1-2 teaspoons to yogurt, cereal, on top of berries or make exotic raw desserts, ice creams, puddings, jams, raw superfood truffles and power bars. To create a nourishing, low-glycemic energy smoothie combine borojo with other superfoods such as sprouted chia powder, cacao nibs, goji berries, coconut and acai berry powder. 

            It will be interesting to keep an eye on this emerging fruit as new research validates the traditional uses of this exciting food.  We do not need to wait however for the science to discover the myriad of beneficial compounds. We can enjoy this unique superfruit and trust in the intuitive wisdom of South American ancient cultures.

Renita Rietz is a health and nutrition writer who educates on the phytotherapeutic potential of indigenous foods and plants for prevention and regeneration.

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