In Australia we are spoilt for choice when it comes to food. In addition to wonderful local produce, we’re able to enjoy a wide diversity of healthy foods from around the world. And the variety on offer keeps growing as I am constantly on a quest to discover…..so how exciting to bring you another food flash, incaberries. We caught up with dietitian Lisa Yates, incaberry spokesperson, to get the low down on this nutrient-rich dried berry from Ecuador with a unique sweet and sour flavour.
About our expert:
Lisa Yates is an experienced, Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian and nutrition writer. She runs an active private practice in Sydney and consults to the food and health industries, including Nuts for Life. Lisa is passionate about food and nutrition and just a little nutty about the health benefits of dried fruit and nuts!
Michelin-starred chef Raymond Blanc is a fan and incaberries are being seen as the latest, must-have addition to breakfast buffets at leading European hotels. So to find out what the fuss is all about, let’s go back to the start…what is an Incaberry? Incaberries are a member of the Solanaceae plant family and are related to the tomato, eggplant and potato. Sometimes you’ll hear them referred to as Incan Berries or Cape Gooseberries. Fresh incaberries are a beautiful small fruit with a glossy orange-yellow skin that is protected by delicate, papery leaves. Once dried, incaberries have a distinct bronze-orange colour and are a similar size to a raisin. In Ecuador, dried Incaberries have been eaten for centuries as a folk medicine just as we would use raisins – for snacking, in baking and to add flavour to a wide variety of dishes from stews to salads.
Incaberries are highly nutritious dried fruit providing a potent source of antioxidants and high on the list when it comes to dietary fibre. They are a source of vitamin C and 45g or a ¼ cup serve contains more potassium than a small banana. One handful of Incaberries (about 45g) provides more than a quarter of an adult’s recommended daily fibre needs just over 8g – that’s more fibre than a salad sandwich on wholegrain bread. In fact, dried Incaberries have double the fibre of most dried fruits, including the favourites we often turn to help keep us regular. What’s particularly impressive about Incaberries is not only the quantity of fibre, but the fact they contain both insoluble and soluble fibre. Insoluble fibre is vital for healthy bowel function, while soluble fibre has been shown to help control hunger and reduce cholesterol re-absorption.
The crunchy seeds preserved at the heart of the dried Incaberry makes this little berry a potent source of antioxidants. Incaberries actually have a higher antioxidant capacity than many well-known foods given the “superfoods” tag including Goji berries, green tea, broccoli and pomegranate juice. Incaberries have an ORAC level of 3874 umolTE/100g (the measurement of antioxidant capacity) compared to raw Goji berries, which have only 3290 umolTE/100g. In particular, Incaberries are rich in polyphenols. Research has found the antioxidants in Incaberries may also have anti-inflammatory qualities.
Incaberries are a very versatile ingredient and can be used for snacking, cooking or baking. They make a perfect addition to your trail mix, muesli or for a treat you can even buy divine chocolate-coated Incaberries. Keep an eye out for them at green grocers and health food stores. Dried incaberries are now available in Australia through a variety of distributors and packaged under several well-known brands including Natural Grocer, Trumps, Macro foods, Nocelle Foods, Natures Delight, The Nut Shop, JC’s Quality Foods and Trutaste Nuts, so, while the packaging may vary they will all carry the trademark Incaberry name and logo.
Here’s my favourite way to enjoy them in this recipe for Incaberry muesli slice – the combination of Incaberries and nuts is delicious!
For more information on Incaberries and recipes check out the website www.incaberry.com.au
Thanks Lisa. Somehow I’m not surprised there is a new berry on the block. But I’m very pleased to see an expert dietitian helping to support the launch, credible nutrition claims along with fair-trade farming practices. I’m going to look out for them in restaurants around town, as it’s often the chefs as you highlight that are the culinary crusaders. The taste is indeed an interesting combo, reminds me of the sweet-salty dried plums my colleagues in Hong Kong used to snack on. How about you readers? Have you tried an incaberry? Have you got a question for Lisa?