January 8, 2019
By: Ana Cristina Jurczyk
Discovering the Health Benefits of Lulo
As a Registered Dietitian that grew up in a multicultural household, I nurtured a special fondness for different Latin foods. Each trip to visit my mother’s home country of Colombia always included the experience of eating traditional dishes. As much as I enjoy the daily arepa, I look forward to the fruit the most. Similar to other tropical countries, Colombia boasts a fruit selection that is brag worthy.
Lulo is my all time favorite Colombian fruit. Native to the Northwest region of South America, lulo is referred to as “naranjilla” in other countries like Panama and Ecuador. Lulo stands out in comparison to other fruits due to its distinctive tart and tangy taste. Its flavor is unique, exotic, and it is also known for its equally enticing scent. It can be eaten raw or cooked, but the most common way to consume lulo in Colombia is as a juice. A surprising detail about lulo is that the juice itself comes out a green color! The fruit pulp can also be used to make jams and jellies or as a topping.
Lulo also packs a nutritious punch.
Aside from the deliciousness, many carotenoids and phenolic compounds have been identified in each part of the fruit. In particular lulo has been found to be high in beta-carotenes, lutein, flavonol, and other bioactive compounds (1). Lulo is also known for its strong antioxidant properties.
In one cup of thawed, unsweetened lulo pulp there are 7 grams of carbohydrate. Of those 7 grams of carbohydrate, 2 are made up of fiber and 4.5 are sugar. In one cup it has the highest concentration of the following nutrients:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin K
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin C
So what are the health benefits of this powerful little fruit?
Due to the high vitamin C and vitamin A content, lulo is associated with boosting the immune system. Vitamin C and the carotenoids present are antioxidants that can help fight oxidative stress and clear free radicals from damaging the system. Fighting oxidative stress is crucial in prevention of diseases such as cancer. The fiber content of lulo can be beneficial for the digestive tract, blood sugar management, and cholesterol reduction. And in traditional medicine lulo has been used as a diuretic substance and in detoxification protocols.
Depending on where you are in the world access to lulo may be limited. I encourage you to seek out lulo in your local Latin or multicultural market. If that is not accessible, look online where you are most likely to find the lulo pulp in frozen packets. This makes it simple to blend it up at home into your (soon to be) favorite fruit juice!
- Gancel, AL, Alter P, Dhuique-Mayer C, Ruales J, Vaillant F. “Identifying carotenoids and phenolic compounds in naranjilla (Solanum quitoense Lam. var. Puyo hybrid), an Andean fruit.” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 56.24 (2008): 11890-11899. PubMed. Web. 3 January 2019.