Meet the Cerrado, home of the Baru.
Baru seeds have a very high nutritional value and are also part of an overlooked ecosystem. To talk about them is to talk about the South American Cerrado.
The baru tree or Baruzeiro (Dipteryx alata Vog.) is a leguminous tall tree, which once a year bears the baru fruit. It’s a tree adapted to its environment, with deep roots and dry fruits.
The Cerrado is the richest savanna in the world in terms of biodiversity and the second largest biome in South America, being home to some of the main water tables in the continent. It is 65 million years old and spreads over 2 million square kilometers in the heart of Brazil, parts of Bolivia and Paraguay (roughly half the size of Europe), but only 20% of its original vegetation remains.
The importance of the native vegetation is, the trees allow for rain to enter the soil, which is stored underground feeding water tables and important aquifers such as the Guarani, the second largest in the world, with a 1,200,000 km² territory.
Baru can only be found in the Cerrado and plays an important part in the keeping of these water tables. However, this biome is being deforested faster than the Amazon by intensive agricultural activities, such as soy crops and cattle ranching, and the burning of vegetation for charcoal, which allows for soil compaction, and thus the further desertification of the biome and collapse of water supply.
This happened mainly in the last 20 years, due to its low visibility next to the international pressure for the preservation of the Amazon jungle.
The Baru Fruit
The Baru fruit has a single seed inside, called “castanha de baru” or “amêndoa de baru” in Portuguese. It is a primitive branch of Legumes, being close to the Central American almendro (Dipteryx oleifera) . Although it resembles a nut, it shares no relation to tree nuts, and a very distant relation to peanuts.
It is a non-domesticated species, meaning that it is genetically untouched and highly diverse. Baru fruits when ripe fall on the ground, which are then consumed by the local fauna, dispersed, or hand-picked through extractivist co-ops made of local families before the rainy season.
These local communities rely on baru fruits as a source of income. The recent “discovery” of Baru seeds as a powerful food meant its extraction is now a profitable alternative to deforestation, creating jobs, international awareness for the Cerrado and stimulating the local economy.
If deforestation in the Cerrado continues, by 2050 we should have a hydric collapse in South America. This affects not only all the other biomes and biodiversity in the continent, causing extreme climatic change, but also the grains and cattle industry that took over its place.
The Cerrado Jewel
Famed as an aphrodisiac by Brazilians, the Baru seeds have been increasingly studied by the international scientific community for the last 15 years, due to their astonishing wealth of nutrients. Baru seeds have:
- Almost 30% of their composition as protein
- 94% of mono and polyunsaturated fats
- Massive amounts of α-tocopherol Vitamin E
- Over 70% of its carbohydrates composed of dietary fibre
For more interesting facts about baru seeds in your diet, click here!
In a Nutshell
In accordance to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency Nutrient Content Claim Requirements, Baru seeds have the following health attributes:
- EXCELLENT SOURCE OF VITAMIN E
- EXCELLENT SOURCE OF PHOSPHORUS
- EXCELLENT SOURCE OF MAGNESIUM
- EXCELLENT SOURCE OF ZINC
- HIGH SOURCE OF FIBRE
- GOOD SOURCE OF IRON
- GOOD SOURCE OF POTASSIUM
- SOURCE OF CALCIUM
- SOURCE OF PROTEIN
- SOURCE OF ENERGY
- SOURCE OF OMEGA 3
- SOURCE OF OMEGA 6
- FREE OF TRANS FATTY ACID
- FREE OF SODIUM
- CHOLESTEROL FREE
- PEANUT FREE
- NUT FREE
- GLUTEN FREE
Got interested? Get them!