What’s the Real Scoop on Lacuma Powder?

Dr. Lindsey Mcilvena, MD

In her day job, treating patients living with chronic disease, nutrition and lifestyle are not after-thoughts, they’re central to helping her patients get well. She’s also our go-to expert on plant-based diets.

Lacuma is being hailed as yet another all-star South American fruit, and you can find the maple-flavored fruit powdered at your local health food store.

Lacuma has been dubbed the “gold of the Incas,” and has been used in traditional medicine in many cultures.  It’s receiving a lot of attention here in the United States lately as an addition to baked goods, smoothies, and other recipes as a substitute for sugar.

But is lacuma powder a better choice than sugar?

The short answer is probably—unlike refined table sugar, lacuma does offer some nutrients instead of just containing empty calories. According to Navitas Naturals, a purveyor of this fruit, lacuma boasts a decent amount of protein, fiber, B3, iron, and calcium. Sunfood, another lacuma-selling business, notes that it has significant amounts of vitamin C and zinc. If lacuma really has all those nutrients packed within, then it’s definitely a step up from regular sugar.

But here’s another question: Is it better than honey as a sweetener? Most likely not, as honey has natural antibiotics, antioxidants, and prebiotics.

Wondering if it offers any other proven health benefits?

A search of the medical literature doesn’t reveal any scientific studies looking at lacuma, but we can see that it is certainly a lower glycemic, whole-food alternative to sugar. We’ll keep our eyes on the emerging literature and let you know what turns up. For now, give it a try if you like—but don’t expect it to taste anywhere near as sweet as refined sugar or honey; lacuma powder’s sweetness is much more subtle. And, owing to its powdery form, you most likely don’t want to stir it into your coffee or tea.

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