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The Amazon's newest superfood, macambo

The superfood macambo
The Amazon strikes again!

Updated Jul 6, 2017 @ 10:50 am

From the looks of our pantry, you’d think we were Amazonian adventurers. Quinoa, maca, cacao, lucuma, camu-camu… there’s a rainforest’s worth of nutrition in there. But just when we felt like we’d discovered all of the Amazon region’s nutritional secrets, another superfood has emerged from Peru.

It’s called macambo, and Imlak’esh Organics, based in Goleta, California, is now bringing it to America.

The golden pods of the macambo tree contain seeds that have been eaten for centuries by locals to fuel them through the equatorial heat. In Andean medicine, they’ve been used to stimulate brain function, earning the brain-shaped seeds the nickname of “brain bean.”

Imlak’esh founder Tucker Garrison first encountered macambo seeds while traveling through remote Peruvian villages. He and co-founder Philip Richardson now source Imlak’esh’s macambo from a women’s collective in Peru that wild-harvests it sustainably, which allows the women to earn a living wage while protecting the rain forest’s fragile ecology.

The seeds are lightly toasted and salted with Andean rock salt. Their flavor is reminiscent of cashews but with more of a flaky texture and smoky essence. It’s a bit of an acquired taste but, from a nutritional standpoint, one that’s worth getting used to. Macambo seeds are powerhouses of fiber, protein, omega-9 fatty acids and theobromine, the same alkaloid that lends macambo’s cousin, the cacao bean, its mood-boosting buzz.

Macambo makes an energizing snack straight out of the jar or can be added to salads and smoothies. They’re perfect for when your slog through a workday (or workout) feels like a trek through the rain forest.