People in the Amazon refer to it as “the pharmacy in a fruit,” because of its numerous health benefits.
It’s called cupuaçu (pronounced “koop-oo-ah-soo”) and it’s the Amazon rainforest’s secret to radiant, youthful-looking skin.
I first encountered the super fruit a few years back while trekking through a remote part of the Brazilian rainforest.
I was in search of healing herbs for patients at my wellness clinic when my tour guide stopped before a small tree and grabbed from it a brown, melon-sized fruit.
She cracked it open with a machete and handed a sample to me. It was delicious – like tropical fruit with a hint of what I believed to be cocoa.
I wasn’t far off…
My guide told me that the cupuaçu tree is closely related to the cacao (cocoa) tree, whose fruit pod seeds are the source of chocolate.
Cupuaçu has been a traditional Amazon food source for centuries. Locals use it to make all different kinds of delicious drinks, ice cream, jams and desserts.
But as enjoyable as it was to eat, I was more interested in the healing power of its seeds…
If cupuaçu seeds were similar to cocoa beans, I thought it was likely that they were also jam-packed with powerful antioxidants and nutrients.
My hunch proved true. I researched cupuaçu when I returned home to Florida and found out about how powerful an anti-aging source its seeds were – especially for your skin.
For skin-care applications, cupuaçu seeds are pressed to form a nutrient butter that has a similar look to cocoa butter. But cupuaçu butter has a softer, smoother texture, and it doesn’t have any known allergic reactions.
Cupuaçu butter has many therapeutic benefits for your skin. As a skin hydrator, it’s a great plant alternative to animal-based lanolin. In fact, it can attract and hold more than twice the amount of moisture in the skin than lanolin.
Cupuaçu is also rich in a type of antioxidant called flavonoids. Flavonoids help fight off one of your body’s biggest enemies: free radicals.
Free radicals are rogue molecules that start a damaging chain reaction in your cells, the results of which have been linked with premature aging and disease.
Two of the most powerful antioxidants you’ll find in cupuaçu butter are quercetin and kaempferol. Both are exceptional at protecting your skin.
Quercetin helps maintains your skin’s elasticity and help improve the appearance of scars. In clinical studies it has also significantly reduced skin sensitivity to sunlight and it decreased skin inflammation known as dermatitis.1
Studies have also shown that kaempferol is a potent preventive agent against skin cancer and skin inflammation in human and mouse skin.2,3
Plus, cupuaçu also contains a number of beneficial fatty acids, including oleic acid that protects and moisturizes skin and hair, and a combination of palmitic and stearic acids that are essential for improving skin texture and tone.
That’s an impressive list of ways in which cupuaçu butter can help your skin look fresh and young. Yet I believe cupuaçu’s greatest anti-aging benefit has to do with its impact on collagen…
One of the main contributing factors in the aging of skin is the breakdown and loss of collagen –the fundamental component in connective skin tissue. As the body ages, it’s not able to produce collagen as it once did.
Slow down the loss of collagen production and you’ve found a way to slow down the aging of your skin. That’s exactly what phytosterols can do … and cupuaçu butter has an abundance of phytosterols.
In fact, one German study showed that topical treatments containing phytosterols not only stopped the slow-down of collagen production, they actually encouraged new collagen production – suggesting that they can reverse the effects of aging.
The research on the restorative powers of cupuaçu butter was so strong that I added it to my mineral-based sunscreen called Solis. It combines cupuaçu and shea butter to soothe and protect your skin while boosting your antioxidant protection and beating back the damage that can be done by the sun.
If you want to turn back the hands of time with the beauty secret of the Amazon rainforest, I recommend adding cupuaçu butter to your beauty regimen today.
To your good health,
Al Sears, MD
1. Weng Z1, Zhang B, Asadi S, Sismanopoulos N, Butcher A, Fu X, Katsarou-Katsari A, Antoniou C, Theoharides TC PLoS One. 2012;7(3):e33805. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0033805. Epub 2012 Mar 28.
2. Lee KM, Lee KW, Jung SK, Lee EJ, Heo YS, Bode AM, Lubet RA, Lee HJ, Dong Z. Biochem Pharmacol. 2010 Dec 15;80(12):2042-9. doi: 10.1016/j.bcp.2010.06.042. Epub 2010 Jul 1.
3. Alison F. Stallings, MDa and Mary P. Lupo, MD, FAAD J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2009 Jan; 2(1): 36–40.Grether-Beck S, Mühlberg K, Brenden H, Krutmann J. Hautarzt. 2008 Jul;59(7):557-62. doi: 10.1007/s00105-008-1554-7.