9 Sensational Superfoods From Latin America You May Not Know About

From Mexico to the tip of South America, these foods are bursting with health benefits.

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Latin American woman selling fruits and vegetables.

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What is a superfood? This term is used to describe some of nature's most nutritious foods that come with a host of health benefits. While it seems to be a new trend, superfoods have been around for centuries and have been used in the traditional cuisine of people around the world.

Some of the popular  foods that you can find in health stores like quinoa or acai berries come from Latin America, according to NBC News. Indigenous people from Mexico to Tierra del Fuego –  the southernmost tip of South America –  cultivated and used these nine sensational superfoods. They are healthy, vibrant, delicious, and easy to add to your diet.

Black Beans

These tasty legumes are super nutritious and full of antioxidants, calcium, protein, fiber, and a host of other benefits according to Medical News Today.  Black beans can help strengthen your bones, lower your blood pressure, and promotes healthy digestion. With origins in Central and South America, black beans, frijoles negros, have been a staple in many of the popular Mexican dishes like refried beans, tamales, tortillas, and enchiladas.

Black beans are a suoerfood.

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Acai Berries

This purple Brazilian berry that grows in the Amazon rainforest is packed full of healthy fats, antioxidants, amino acids, vitamins A,B, C, and E, as well as potassium, calcium, magnesium, copper, zinc, and fiber according to NBC News. A really easy way to add Acai berries to your diet is to mix them into smoothies or you can use them as a yogurt topping.

Acai berries come from the Amazon rainforest.

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This protein rich gluten-free grain originates in the Peruvian highlands according to Best Health Magazine. Cultivated for over 5,000 years, quinoa was thought to be the "Gold of the Incas." That's because it is a complete protein and contains all nine essential amino acids. If you are a vegetarian or vegan, make this plant-based superfood a big part of your diet.

Quinoa is a superfood from Latin America.

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Maca Root

This nutritionally rich powder also comes from the Peruvian highlands and is said to increase energy and fight fatigue. That is why it is commonly used by athletes but those are just some of its benefits. According to mindbodygreen, maca is rich in fiber, vitamin C, fatty acids and is an adaptogen that helps support the health of your adrenal system. No wonder it has been cultivated for over 2,000 years. You can add maca to baked goods, pancakes, oatmeal, and lattes.

Maca root is a superfood from Latin America.

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This pseudo cereal is less well known than quinoa but has been cultivated in Mexico and Central America because it is easy to grow even in less fertile soils according to Best Health. Amaranth has a nutritional profile that is similar to its more well-known cousin, but it is also rich in iron. Amaranth is a popular snack in Mexico and is frequently paired with puffed rice and chocolate.

This healthy seed is cultivated in Mexico.

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This fruit that grows in Peru has been consumed for thousands of years according to NBC News. Lucuma resembles an avocado with sweet yellow flesh and a hard green shell. High in the antioxidant beta carotene that is found in yellow and orange fruits and vegetables it has anti-inflammatory benefits, wound healing properties, may help prevent some cancers, and has high levels of iron and vitamin B3.

Lucuma is a highly nutritious superfood.

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Cacao is the purest form of chocolate and originally grew in Brazil although now it is cultivated in many more places. The Mayas learned how to ferment cacao and the rest is history. While some people feel that chocolate is unhealthy because of the fats and sugar it contains, the opposite is true. Chocolate has a host of heart health benefits and the darker it is, the better. Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants, fiber, iron, copper, magnesium, potassium, and zinc.

Cacao beans are made into chocolate.

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Chia Seeds

These edible seeds date back to the Mayan and Aztec cultures and originated in Mexico and Guatemala. These tiny seeds have twice the protein of any other seed, five times the calcium of dairy products, and are chock full of Omega 3 and 6. Just one ounce of chia seeds gives you 10 grams of fiber which can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. You can put chia seeds into just about anything.

Chia seeds are a superfood from Mexico.

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Brazil Nuts

These Amazonian nuts are one of the best sources of selenium (an antioxidant). Just two Brazil nuts give you all the selenium you need a day. These super heart healthy nuts also contain protein, fiber, healthy fats, vitamin E, and a host of minerals. Just keep it to two a day!

Brazil nuts are superfoods.

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